Sikh community urged to face ‘taboo’ issue of addiction
Sikhs needs to start talking openly about addiction to tackle the problems of “shame” and “stigma”, a recovering alcoholic has said.
Jaz Rai, who runs the Sikh Recovery Network, said there was a growing problem with all kinds of addiction within his community and people were not getting the help they needed.
He said addiction was “condemned” in their faith.
Mr Rai is holding several events at Derby Gurdwara to help rid the “taboo”.
He said he wanted to help people “get out of the misery” he had suffered.
A study found alcohol-related hospital admissions in the Punjabi community had risen and it noted a loss of status was feared more than health issues.
Lakhwinder Chahal, who attends the same Gurdwara, said: “When I was growing up we had some family members who were alcoholic.
“It was so hard at times, when they didn’t know what they were doing… the whole family suffered because there was some violence as well.
“I know of so many people who have suffered because of alcohol, with domestic violence. The people get hurt, the children are scared.”
At one point Mr Rai was drinking a litre of vodka a day, which put his job at risk and saw him convicted of drink driving.
He quit when given an ultimatum by his wife to choose their family or alcohol.
Mr Rai said: “Drug and alcohol addiction is a problem in every community, but in the Sikh community it is taboo.
“There is a lot of stigma attached to it and addicts are quickly labelled and ostracised by our community.
“It’s condemned in our faith and in our holy scriptures.”
He added: “I am willing to do anything to get people out of that misery and give them the chance of having what I have.”
The weekend Derby programme will consist of talks, workshops and open sessions where people of any background or faith can discuss their issues.