Empowering Rehabilitation: An Initiative to Combat Substance Abuse

In the tranquil village of Paro, the story of Sonam echoes the struggles faced by many in rural communities across the nation. With job opportunities scarce, Sonam found himself grappling with the harsh reality of unemployment, a predicament that led him down a perilous path.

Desperate to provide for his family, Sonam resorted to selling controlled substances, a decision that would ultimately alter the course of his life. His arrest, alongside a friend, marked the beginning of a tumultuous journey, culminating in a five-year prison sentence for engaging in illicit trade.

However, amidst the shadows of despair, a beacon of hope emerged with the launch of a groundbreaking initiative by the PEMA Secretariat at the Central Prison in Lungzor, Trashigang. Timed to coincide with the birth anniversary of His Majesty The King, this initiative aims to address Substance Use Disorder (SUD) among inmates, including Sonam and 42 others.

For individuals like Sonam, this program represents more than just a chance at redemption; it signifies a lifeline toward rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Combining self-help principles, mindfulness practices, and vocational training, the program offers a holistic approach to recovery.

Dorji Tshering, representing The PEMA Secretariat, underscores the urgency of such initiatives, citing the alarming statistic that the majority of inmates with SUD have never accessed professional services. With Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen advocating for compassionate care, the program aligns with broader public health interventions, recognizing SUD as a mental health issue deserving of attention and support.

Central to the program’s objectives is the reduction of recidivism rates among drug convicts and the facilitation of their seamless reintegration into society. Given that a significant portion of the prison population is incarcerated for drug-related offenses, the need for effective rehabilitation measures cannot be overstated.

Sonam’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of such initiatives. Despite his past struggles, he views the program as a catalyst for positive change, offering him the support needed to overcome addiction and rebuild his life.

Echoing Sonam’s sentiments are fellow inmates like Sangay and Kuenga, who express gratitude for the opportunity to embark on a journey of self-improvement and redemption. As they embrace the prospect of a second chance, law enforcement agencies continue their vigilance in combating substance abuse, with a notable increase in arrests over recent years.

The battle against substance abuse is far from over, but with initiatives like the one pioneered by the PEMA Secretariat, there is hope on the horizon. As Bhutanese society rallies behind the cause of rehabilitation and compassion, the journey towards a drug-free future takes another significant step forward.

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