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Drug Abuse


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taken from sikhnet.com... Very Touching Story!!!!

Dear SikhNet members:

SUBJECT: DRUG ABUSE - From the perspective of an Indo-Canadian Punjabi Sikh

I feel very privileged to live in a time and age where one can communicate with so many Sikhs around the world.

I am writing to request some suggestions, some information and to also make others aware of issues surrounding drug addiction amongst Sikh.

Because this is a world wide web posting, I have not used my real name. Please forgive me for I do not intend to mislead - just to protect my family's identity.

My brother, a handsome, intelligent young man is severely addicted to drugs. I come from a family of Sikh faith. He has been in several treatment programs. Some of his addiction stems from the identity crisis that plagues many first generation children in western countries.

My parents are heart-broken. They have aged so much over the last three years. They are hard-working, good people who have, despite very difficult times, managed to keep their faith in God and in Sikhism.

The reason I am writing is to discuss the problem of finding good treatment centers for addicts who espouse, to whatever extent, the Sikh faith. My brother has attended a very effective treatment program (he has been in several). He did well after completing this program. The only problem for my family and I was that he became Christian. The program that he attended was a faith based one. It is an excellent program - a long term residential treatment program with educational and vocational counselling. This type of program has been found to be very effective. I don't want to criticize the program. The individuals who ran the program were very loving and supportive to my brother. The program was affiliated with one of the churches in the city and my brother started attending the Church. Soon, he formed a wonderful community of friends who were Christian. There was a youth group. They did many activities together. For the first time, my brother had some very good friends who did not smoke, drink or take drugs. However, he relapsed. He now advertises that he is Christian. I think that he is fooling himself. I know he is. I don't really mind that he changed religions. The problem is that ge did not really convert to Christianity - he just fools himself and others to thinking he has. He did remain drug free for quite a while and that is because he had a very supportive network of friends.

One of the main reasons that our youth are troubled in western societies is the that we don't have effective youth programs. I realize that some of the larger Sikh populated cities do have some of this but not in smaller Sikh communities. As such, my brother and I grew up to learn about our culture, our traditions and our religions through our parents and through our own learning. But, that was not enough. The other problem I have found amongst many Punjabi-Sikh families is that when they know that someone's child is troubled, they don't try to help the family. Instead, they keep their children away for fear that their child will become the same. In fact, my parents have not had any community support. Along with that, when you tell people in our community that you are having some personal or family problems, they don't help, they just gossip about it. I have grown up almost disliking Indo-Canadians. I have isolated myself from the community because the community is not really a healthy one.

Punjabi Sikhs, Indo-Canadians, from my perpsective (I am generalizing but I know that not every single person is like this), are very suspicious of each other. They think that you are jealous of their success, of their children's success so they try to hide from each other. I know this is a reality for many. I know of several other young adults who have the same belief of our people.

So, there are no community supports in place to help my family and, most importantly, my brother. My brother will be entering another treatment facility - another Christian based residential treatment program. I don't believe it will truly help him. He will be told that he must surrender to Jesus Christ - and he will in the hopes that he can live a clean and sobre life. I always hoped he would come back to Sikhism. I don't think he can. It is hard to separate the religion from the people who espoused to be Sikh. His experience with other Sikhs has been so negative. Other Sikh families left my parents when my brother started "acting up" for fear their kids would do the same. I wish there was a Sikh-based treatment program. I don't think my brother can truly be free of his addiction until he is able to accept his identity. For the time being, he will continue to surrender to Jesus Christ because the positive support networks are there. The supportive Christian community will help him remain sobre - at least for a while - because he will believe that he is a converted Christian --- until the next bout of anxiety over his identity.

I realize that his identity issues around being Punjabi, Sikh, of Indian origin are not the only issues that have caused him to become a drug addict. I just wish that with all the Gurdwaras across the world that collect money to keep them in operation, that we could use those funds to help the next generation of Sikhs so that we could perpetuate the Sikh religion and the Punjabi language for the future.

If I have offended, please forgive. My pain, my parents suffering, my love for my brother overwhelms me. I long for the day to be able to tie a rakhri on my brother's arm and to know that he will be alright.

Many blessings to all of you, especially the wonderful people who keep this site running. Sat-sri-akal.

- SKD.

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