I Want People To Know That With Competent And Compassionate Care, Anyone Can Recover From Addiction.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE GREENHOUSE COMMUNITY SERVICES, MAYBANK MOMENTUM GRANTEE
Rama, as he implores his students to address him as, is a marketing professor known for the close relationships he has with his students. The effort he invests to go the extra mile for his students has earned the respect and admiration of his students. Rather than being addressed as Prof, advice he gives to his students are all in the spirit of friendship.
1) Why did you start your organization? What got you started on doing what you do? I personally struggled with drug use for many years. I wanted very much to stop but was not able to do it. This was even though I was fortunate enough to afford the best care. It made me realise that the reasons behind drug use arent always well understood, and that peer support is essential to recovery. It was important to me as someone who managed to get better to create more safe and supportive environments for other to also get better. As someone who faced so more stigma and discrimination during my recovery journey, it was important to me to help ensure that competent and compassion care is always available to those who need it. 2) When you look back on your work so far, what touches you most or what compels you to want to do more? I feel privileged to be a part of Singapores addiction recovery landscape. Even though the work is mentally and emotionally demanding, I get to be a part of helping people reclaim the best lives that they were always meant to lead. There is no greater joy than watching someone learn to love and accept themselves again. To watch them realise that they are good people who want to get better and deserve to get better that addiction isnt something that happens because they are bad or weak, that addiction is not a moral failing. Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is very much a spiritual process in that it requires us to believe in something greater than ourselves, greater than our pain. It requires us to create some kind of meaning or purpose from the often traumatic experiences that we’ve had. Those of us who recover go on to help others do the same. It is deeply meaningful as people who have been empowered to take charge of our narrative and rewrite the ending, to empower other to do the same. It is the gift that keeps on giving. 3) What was one set back you experienced? What do you say to your naysayers? Coming out publicly with who I am and my struggle with drug use was a very difficult decision to make. As someone who values my privacy and does not enjoy attention, it has been quite challenging. Setting up and maintaining The Greenhouse also meant that I had to stop driving, move back in with my family and watch my spending I do miss these freedoms occasionally. But it is the unwillingness of people to understand the struggles of those who have been marginalised which is often hurtful and confusing to me. Strangers have sent me death threats and made comments on social media about how I deserve to hang. And even though I’ve learnt to take it in stride it was definitely hard to accept in the beginning. Now I just see it as a sign that more work needs to be done in de-stigmatising addiction and building awareness of recovery, and that is okay. More people are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction every day, and will be ready to carry the message of recovery. 4) What keeps you going? I am fortunate to be part of a recovery community. A community of people who firmly believe in the importance of loving, accepting and supporting each other, even though this isn’t always easy. The understanding that I will always have a safe space to return to where I am loved, accepted and supported is very empowering. It helps me speak my truth and be at peace even in challenging situations where people may fundamentally disagree with who I am, what I’ve done or what I do. I dont need their approval to be okay. And I can love and accept them too, even if we disagree. 5) What is one highlight / experience / message you would like to share with the public? Why? Addiction is often a maladaptive coping mechanism for pain. People in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction are good people who want to get better. With competent and compassionate care, anyone can recover. It is our duty as a society to help those who wish to stop using drugs and alcohol get better, regardless of our believe about addiction, or about them. 6) Who inspires you and why? People in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction beat the odds and get better, despite overwhelming stigma, discrimination, fear and shame, everyday. Every one of our beneficiaries who step through our door wanting to get better is a hero that deserves to be celebrated. They keep me believing in the cause. They keep me going. 7) What does thriving mean to you? Thriving means living the best life we can possibly live, with the cards that weve been dealt with. It means coming to terms with the experiences weve had, so we can take control of our narrative and write a better ending.