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‘Replace Addiction With Connection’: Dr Yusuf Merchant on Drugs

International Day Against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking: Give drug addicts a chance, says the addiction expert.

Updated
Fit
3 min read

On the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Dr Yusuf Merchant, a psychiatrist based out of Mumbai, shares with us his ideas on fighting addiction. Dr Merchant, who is also known for his work with helping drug addicts, shares with FIT his idea of happiness. The doctor defines it as an ongoing process and not as a destination. In his recently published book, Happyness, he talks on great length about what led him to pursue and finally achieve happiness.

The pursuit of happiness often leads one down dark paths and one of them happens to be addiction. Dr Merchant, who established his first formal rehab centre in the late nineties, has been working with drug addicts for close to three decades. For the first 15 years, he lived with the patients of substance abuse.

What Led to the Fight Against Addiction?

“I was more keen to be with those who were suffering”.
“I was more keen to be with those who were suffering”.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Dr Merchant says his childhood was mired in familial upheavals. He was resentful towards his parents, he jokingly calls himself “deviant”. As a result of all the turmoil, his father threw him out of the house and it was on the streets that he got sensitised about drug abuse and addiction.

“I was more keen to be with those who were suffering”, says Dr Merchant, remembering how he started working with substance abusers.

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Depression and Addiction

Depressed people do drugs and drug abusers get depressed - it is a cycle.
Depressed people do drugs and drug abusers get depressed - it is a cycle.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The two have a direct correlation. Depressed people do drugs and drug abusers get depressed - it is a cycle.

Additionally, addiction is only a symptom of the problem.

Substance abuse is only a symptom of the disease. If I’m coughing, the disease is tuberculosis, not coughing. 
Dr Yusuf Merchant
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‘Replace Addiction With Connection’

 Give him another solution, replace the drug with it and he will overcome the addiction.
Give him another solution, replace the drug with it and he will overcome the addiction.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

A drug addict views the drug as a solution to his problems. Give him another solution, replace the drug with it and he will overcome the addiction, says the doctor. A drug addict feels isolated which pushes them towards the drugs in the first place. Therefore it’s important to build strong, personal connections to ensure the patient does not seek those connections in substance abuse.

Dr Merchant further adds that it’s important for the family and friends to approach the patient with love and care and not view him as an outcast. It’s important to look at him like a sick person and get him professional help, he concludes.

Camera: Athar Rather, Shiv Kumar Maurya
Editor: Rahul Sanpui

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