…𝑨 𝒕𝒆𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆, 𝑻𝒂𝒔𝒉𝒊 𝑻𝒐𝒃𝒈𝒂𝒚’𝒔 𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒖𝒎𝒑𝒉 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒅𝒅𝒊𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒏𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒑 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑯𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒊𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝑪𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒍𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝑨𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒉𝒐𝒍 𝑼𝒔𝒆 𝑫𝒊𝒔𝒐𝒓𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒐𝒘𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝒔𝒖𝒑𝒑𝒐𝒓𝒕 𝒔𝒚𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒎𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚.
Embarking on the journey to reclaim normalcy after succumbing to Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is an arduous task. While some manage to abstain temporarily, many grapple with the persistent threat of relapse. Tashi Tobgay’s narrative stands as a testament to resilience, as he steadfastly refused to surrender to the challenges posed by AUD. His unwavering determination to resurrect a semblance of normalcy in his life serves as an inspiring beacon for those navigating similar struggles. Tashi Tobgay’s story not only reflects his personal triumph but also carries the potential to motivate individuals facing the seemingly insurmountable challenges of addiction. If Tashi Tobgay could surmount AUD, it beckons the question: why not you?
Enduring the clutches of AUD, Tashi Tobgay has successfully emerged from the shadows, attributing his transformation to the unwavering support of his elder sister and the pivotal role played by the Happiness Centre. His journey from the depths of addiction to a state of sobriety stands as a testament to the transformative power of resilience and external support. Through Tashi Tobgay’s experience, the narrative unfolds not only as a personal victory but also as a source of encouragement for those grappling with their own battles against AUD.
Tashi Tobgay is a 25-year-old from Samcholing village in Dakteng Gewog, Trongsa Dzongkhag. He is one of four siblings, with two elder sisters, one younger sibling, and himself. Unfortunately, his mother has passed away, and his father resides in a village where he works as a farmer. Taking on the responsibility of looking after Tashi, his elder sister manages everything through her employment in a karaoke.
Tashi recounted, “My first encounter with alcohol was at the tender age of 6. While I didn’t develop a habit of drinking then, I did start sampling small amounts during that period.”
“However, my journey took a turn in 2016 when I became addicted. Subsequently, if my body lacked alcohol, my hands would tremble, and I would experience severe headaches. Only through consumption would I attain a sense of calmness. This marked a significant shift from the earlier, more casual engagement with alcohol”, he added.
He went on to share some of the challenges he encountered during that period. “Once I realized I was already addicted, it became challenging for relatives, friends, and family to trust people like us. We were not considered trustworthy by employers, making it difficult for us to secure jobs. Even if we managed to find work, we would often labor for just one day, as the wages earned were promptly used to purchase alcohol, leading to inebriation and subsequent inability to attend work the following day. Upon regaining consciousness, our primary concern shifted to the pressing question: ‘Where would I get the money to buy alcohol?’ These thoughts often prompted us to engage in unethical activities such as lying, stealing, and betraying others in order to obtain the necessary funds”.
His most distressing memory from that stage occurred in February when he found himself inebriated, brandishing a knife, making it extremely challenging for his family to manage the situation. Faced with no other option, they had to summon the police, who subsequently escorted him back to the Happiness Centre. This incident took place during a relapse.
“Nevertheless, my family has been remarkably supportive throughout my journey. The most significant pillar of support has been my elder sister”, he added.
The Happiness Centre, established under the Nazhoen Lamtoen and supported by Phuentsholing Thromde and the Royal Bhutan Police, functions as an After Care home dedicated to offering pre-rehabilitation and comprehensive aftercare services for individuals struggling with Substance and Alcohol Use Disorders. The overarching vision is to transform those affected into productive and self-sufficient contributors to society. The mission revolves around providing effective intervention, referral, and aftercare support to individuals dealing with substance and alcohol use disorders. The objectives include delivering aftercare services to prevent relapse, creating societal awareness about the disorders, reintegrating recovering individuals into society, offering intervention and aftercare in prison facilities, and fostering collaboration and referrals. The diverse range of activities encompasses aftercare sessions, skill development for reintegration, referral and liaison services, outreach programs, intervention, individual motivation, safe spaces for seeking motivation, introduction to self-help group meetings, family support and counseling, free food and shelter for the destitute, and immediate aftercare for vulnerable children and youth.
The Centre’s efforts address a critical need, particularly in Phuentsholing, where many vulnerable children, youth, and elderly individuals facing destitution and abandonment often struggle with addiction, lacking familial support or societal inclusion. This dire circumstance heightens their vulnerability, leading to a potentially devastating spiral. To counter this issue, an interim shelter home was constructed with the support of Thromdey, providing a crucial refuge for those in need. Through these multifaceted activities, the Happiness Centre endeavors to make a meaningful impact on the lives of individuals grappling with substance and alcohol use disorders.
Bhup Dhoj Ghaley, Founder and Project Director, Happiness Centre Aftercare Home said, “He was admitted here for the first time when his sister brought him for AUD treatment. Initially, we recommended admitting him to a rehabilitation treatment center, but due to financial constraints, we were unable to send him there. Consequently, we admitted him here for detoxification after consulting with a doctor from Phuentsholing Hospital, as there was no family member available to stay as his attendant during the detoxification process. Subsequently, we provided pre-rehabilitation and aftercare support. Following the completion of his treatment, he moved to Trongsa after getting married and commenced work there.”
He continued, “Later, he experienced a relapse there, and his sister informed us. Consequently, we readmitted him here in August 2022. We administered a relapse course of treatment and reintegrated him into JB Workshop as a caretaker. However, after three months, he experienced another relapse, leading to his readmission to the centre. During this period, we provided a relapse prevention course and social reintegration support at the Bhutan Institute of Wellbeing in Thimphu, along with other members who offered their support. Additionally, we facilitated skill development training in tailoring, and soon, he will be sent on a field attachment with My Tailoring Shop in Phuentsholing Town.”
He shared, “I experienced two relapses while in the center itself. Following the completion of my treatment, upon leaving the center, I faced three additional relapses.”
Having maintained nine months of sobriety, he has successfully avoided any relapses. He expresses a strong desire for personal improvement and positive change.