In December last year, I visited my very first rehab centre in Indonesia- Yayasan Breakthrough Missions Indonesia, Bogor. My high school arranged a voluntary visit to Jakarta’s very first private rehabilitation centre for people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction. As a student of psychology, I knew this experience would be unparalleled so I didn’t hesitate to wake up at 4am on a rainy Saturday morning, grab a notebook, a pen and my camera and head out to the bus that took me to the the rehab centre located 3 hours from where I lived.
Upon arrival, we were welcomed by an extremely wealthy-looking 23 year-old Chinese man named Andika. The very first thing I noticed about him was the huge collection of tattoos he featured all over his arms and his legs. Andika started off our seminar in a closed room resembling a study hall, where he held a mic and stood on a makeshift stage set up in front of a large projector screen. Needless to say, he had a lot to share. He told us about how Yayasan Breakthrough was his first-ever rehabilitation experience, one that he was forced into by his family after a long, tumultuous experience with drug and alcohol addition that started off in his late years as a teenager. He called his addiction days his “dark days” because he began wasting his time, wasting large sums of money on small amounts of drugs and his family and friends turned their backs on him because he chose the path of profanity over the people who loved, cared and cherished him- including the woman he loved.
Andika studied from a well-regarded high school in Jakarta, attended university in Hong Kong and rotated between Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand as a part of his job. He told us how initially, it pinched him to spend so much of his own, hard-earned money on drugs- but eventually it turned into a ritual. Twice a week after work he would take a detour before heading home, knowing that the money in his pocket would soon be replaced by little sachets of poison.
Just like the other 25 people attending the rehab centre, Andika labelled his experience an “addiction cycle for escape.” I found this paradoxical- a ‘cycle’ generally connotes endlessness, yet the word ‘escape’ suggested the opposite. Clearly curious, I asked why. He mentioned how drugs have a long-standing illusory effect on the consumer that makes them feel like it is pulling them away from reality; he used the words ‘stairway to heaven’ to describe the utopian feeling. Slowly but surely, they made him feel like he was living a better, happier and more appealing life- one that didn’t create bruises from the bitterness and the harshness of reality. He was living in another dimension altogether, and he didn’t realise this until his sister held up a mirror in front of his face and all he could see were the beat-up, zombie-like remnants of a once perfect man.
Yayasan Breakthrough specialises in cases like Andika’s, where well-todo men and women come to seek healing after realising that their lives are spiralling downwards. With 25 attendees and 15 facilitators who were once victims of drug abuse themselves, a 15-18 month long, spiritually-led program helps pull the addicts out of their plummeting condition. Once admitted, newbies are kept in an isolated, barred, jail-like compound known as the ‘Cold Turkey’ for a week, where even their food is served to them in trays that are pushed under the door of their cells. According to Mr. Alex Nio, the founder of Yaysan Breakthrough, the Cold Turkey stage makes addicts feel stressed, guilty and scared because they get time to ruminate and realise the severity of the situation they’re in; it literally forces them to think about all they have lost and all they could have gained instead. The next three months are spent in the cleaning area, where addicts are in charge of completing chores and duties that involve washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, tidying beds, hand washing clothes and preparing meals on a daily basis.
After 3-6 months, addicts join workshops that help them build on transferrable life skills that will help them assimilate back into reality once they’ve completed their rehabilitation program. The workshop involves activities such as catering, doing the laundry, landscaping, gardening, carving and framing paintings. Some of the facilitators even taught us how to carve our own wooden ornaments using a hammer and a nail!
The healing-process that Yayasan Breakthrough specialises in revolves around religion; specifically, Christianity. Addicts are required to spend at least an hour in the library daily, where they get to choose from a range of books that feature elements of Christianity. The commitment and dedication towards God helps the addicts recenter their focus towards more positive things in life, so much that they start expressing gratitude for everything they have. Biweekly seminars encourage discussions about the Bible and about God in general, which last for roughly 2 hours each time.
As I waked through the rehab centre I got the chance to visit the rooms of the addicts: arranged in bunkers, 4-8 people stayed in a single room that had nothing but a bed, a cupboard, a table, a few chairs and a ceiling fan. Considering the fact that most of the addicts came from wealthy families, these rooms gave form to the feeling of being snatched from all the luxury and comfort they were used to. The rooms presented nothing but the bare minimum, which made this feeling even more tangible. Some of the tables feature photographs of the families of the addicts- a small memoir to motivate and remind them of what is waiting for them after their battle.
My experience at Yayasan Breakthrough Missions Indonesia was one that has etched itself into my memory. Besides the obvious struggle of being addicted to drugs and alcohol, the rehab centre has taught me how there is opportunity to heal in even when this struggle may seem endless.