Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Drug addiction is a major social evil in Bangladesh, affecting thousands of young people and their families. In 2007, Catholic Howlader Barnard, a former drug addict, founded the NGO Freedom From Addiction in Trusted Home (Faith), to combat the phenomenon and help people rehabilitate.
"I was an addict - Howlader tells AsiaNews - and did not attend church. I took every drug available. One day an addict friend of mine died suddenly and I, out of fear of death, started reading the Bible and I can say that Jesus on the cross healed me".
After that experience, Howlader succeeded in overcoming his addiction and founded Faith along with other former addicts. To recover from drug addiction, the centre has two steps: detoxification and rehabilitation. "We have had success - says the founder - in 100% of cases. All those who came to our centre, they are clean from drugs”.
Rehabilitation aims to prevent relapse, developing the ability of each individual to allow reintegration into society. But sometimes former addicts have trouble on leaving the centre.Bangladesh has no facilities to ensure social reintegration and prevention from relapse. For this very reason, some former drug users began to form in different parts of the country support groups to help lead a life free from drugs.
The war on drugs “is nothing but extra-judicial killing". More than 12,000 people have died in police operations. Church outreach towards addicts and families includes relief and rehabilitation. Government figures about drug addiction are inflated.
The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro and local authorities plan to work together on a programme to help prevent and treat drug abuse. Although the Church does “not have the facilities for scientific rehabilitation,” said Archbishop Ledesma, it can provide “spiritual healing”, adding “we cannot solve a crime by committing another crime”.
The Archdiocese of Colombo calls for broad partition in mass rally on 30 July. Drug abuse is rapidly increasing even among Catholic students. The island nation has about 45,000 heroin users as well as 200,000 cannabis users. It is a transit point for drug trafficking originating in India.