Leading RAG’s de-addiction initiative

Rtn Yogesh Zaveri, with the VTT group, attending the Unplugged programme at the Ghent University, Belgium.
Rtn Yogesh Zaveri, with the VTT group, attending the Unplugged programme at the Ghent University, Belgium.

Two clubs that have really taken the bull of substance abuse by its horns are Rotary Club of Mumbai ­Ghatkopar (RCMG), RID 3141, and RC Hyderabad Midtown, RID 3150.In Mumbai, a cause-based hybrid club titled RC Addiction Prevention has been sponsored by RCMG, with 30 members, and 20 more in the pipeline. It has also started a de-addiction centre at Spandan Hospital in the metropolis.

Yogesh Zaveri, a member of RCMG, who is passionately involved in fighting substance abuse for many years says this ­de-addiction centre was started by their club about a year ago and OPD services are available here for all four types of addiction. Meetings are held here in partnership with the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and “about 25 people, in the age group 35–40, attend these meetings.”

An electrical engineer by profession, Zaveri is a charter member and past president of RCMG. He says at these meetings in Spandan Hospital, “people share stories of how they are not respected by their family members because of their alcohol addiction, and are counselled by people who have successfully quit.”

The counselling sessions are very effective and “two doctors from the hospital were so impressed by this programme that they have both been made Rotarians and are now members of the cause-based club RC ­Addiction Prevention.” The new club has already established three OPD clinics for treatment, ­counselling and awareness for all types of addictions, including Internet addiction.

People share stories of how they are not respected by their family members because of their alcohol addiction, and are counselled by people who have successfully quit.

Himself a college teacher, Zaveri says that initially, concerned about the manner in which youngsters were getting addicted to tobacco, gutka and alcohol, “our club initially started working against substance abuse through street plays done by youngsters on addiction. When Johan Maertens visited India in 2008, I was our district’s TRF chair, and he said if you are interested, we can organise a VTT (vocational training tour) to Belgium’s Ghent University. The VTT materialised in 2012, and I took two faculty members from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and one from the
Bombay University.”

The group of four underwent Unplugged, a beautiful, school-based intervention programme to tackle substance abuse among adolescents. It is a comprehensive social influence programme for addiction prevention, and is compulsory for all schools in Belgium. “Since then RCMG has trained over 200 teachers for this Unplugged programme,” says Zaveri.

His club has also conducted training programmes for family physicians in combatting substance abuse, and treating the addicted. “This project is being undertaken under a global grant, and so far, over 1,000 family physicians have been trained.” Other activities done by the club include holding AA meetings at a hospital in a Mumbai suburb, and at the Spandan Holistic Mother and Child Care Hospital in the metro.

The club has also developed a programme for training post graduate Psychology students to be school counsellors for addiction prevention conducted by the SNDT University, Mumbai.

RID 3150 has been one of the active districts in combating substance abuse, and has already conducted a mental health awareness seminar for a joint Rotaract club meeting, where addiction awareness formed an important topic of discussion. RC Hyderabad Midtown has been in the forefront of the RAG work for tobacco cessation, and at a multi-district conference organised by the club, ‘Ican’ care programme for tobacco de-addiction was introduced.

A joint meeting was ­conducted by the Bareilly International ­University, Gujarat University and RC ­Hyderabad Midtown (host club) with eight co-host clubs. This club has also been conducting joint meetings with clubs across Rotary districts in the Punjab, Odisha, ­Himachal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Eighteen meetings with 30 ­participating clubs have been held and distribution of tobacco cessation booklets has begun.

 

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