AMIT KAREKAR’S story is one of deep inner challenge and triumph over darkness. With help from loved ones and professionals, and the determination to live, he turned his own life around and is helping others to do the same at Turning Point Rehab, a safe haven for all souls who have lost themselves to substance abuse.
My story has been a roller-coaster ride. A lot of ups and downs. As a child, I was obedient and soft natured. During my school days, I became rebellious, probably because I always liked to be the center of attention. I was so obsessed with certain things that I couldn’t really strike a balance, and as I grew older, I became stubborn. During my college days, I could not tell my parents that I did not want to do an engineering degree, and so I wasted two years of my life instead. They said I shouldn’t be wasting time and that I had never known responsibility in life. Taking things for granted and being stubborn took me downhill.
I was born with a silver spoon, having everything at my disposal. I just had to enjoy life, or so I thought. My parents loved me a lot, but I took undue advantage of their feelings. Instead of using my privilege for my benefit, I abused it. That’s how it all began.
I had a girlfriend in school, and breaking up with her gave me one big reason to start self-sabotaging. In college, the drugs and alcohol started. First beer, then marijuana, then “brown sugar,” the kind of heroin we get in India. And so I became a hardcore “smackie” within a period of six months.
I was completely powerless over that addiction. I didn’t realize it and my parents didn’t intervene because they thought I would be okay, and obey them one day. They kept waiting for that day, while my addiction went to another level, and I became suicidal. 18 months down the line I was completely messed up. They took me to a psychiatrist and I took medication. I did a drug detox, but it didn’t work. I relapsed and was taken to rehab when I was 18. I did a program for around 35 days, but me being me, I picked up all the notorious guys from there, got their contacts and planned what I would do after getting out: more drugs. That was how I was.
I had a long journey of rehabs and relapses, seven to eight rehabs, and every time it was the same thing: I went to rehab, got clean, did the program well, and all the counselors were very impressed with me. I liked to be in their good books. And I was good at sports. I would never receive any punishment and everything was pretty smooth. So fear of rehab was not something that worked in my case. This went on for around 20 years.
Finally I got married, and one fine day my wife told me, “You know, this is not working out. Let’s just stay apart for six months and I’ll see what you do. Take your time to decide whether you want to carry on with our life or you want to live your way.”
I packed up everything and thought, “Wow, this is amazing. I’m gonna be free from today. No responsibilities. Super. God works.”
I met a friend and told him, “Just set me up in some ashram where I can stay. I just want to disconnect from everything.”
Escapism was everything for me.
I wanted to escape from each and every situation in life. I did not want to face it; I did not want to fight it; I only knew “flight” and that’s what I did. But for some reason, my friend didn’t comply.
He said, “You’ve gone nuts. I’ll set you up in a rehab facility. Go there and do some service work, help them out, and you’ll be able to figure something out. Do it for 20 days.”
That’s how my journey of recovery began.
Service is one of the final steps to recovery. You are supposed to motivate others that recovery is possible, and give hope and strength to the people who are suffering with addiction.
They accepted me in a rehab center in Mumbai, and I started taking sessions, but I was just faking it. There’s a slogan, “Fake it till you make it,” and it’s been true in my case. I started helping people to realize what was wrong, why they should turn their lives around, and how to learn the concepts of balance, etc.
And then I was shifted to Surat to start a center there. The adventurous me said, “This is it! You’ve got to go there. Whatever you will do in the future doesn’t matter at this point in time. This is the best you have in front of you – just go for it.” Honestly, I didn’t have anything else in front of me, and my parents and wife had also given up hope.
So I packed my bags, moved to Surat, and stayed at the rehab house to set things up. People said the house was haunted, but that’s what kept me there – I was all in for the adventure. I hung around for some time and then we got a client. And so my journey began with that connection with another person, who arrived fresh to recovery. He compelled me to stay, and I stayed for around 8 months.
I was working for True Care in Surat. My father figured out that this is what I did best, so he encouraged me to start up a center. That’s how Turning Point was created.
My wife came back to me, and has supported me a lot. She’s the backbone of the center. She’s always been the backbone in every walk of my life, and if not for her I would not have become a responsible man. I look at it this way.
In a nutshell, I had everything at my disposal, but I took things for granted. I had never understood my responsibilities, and I was never left alone. Even if I was busted by the cops, my father would bail me out. I didn’t have anything to worry about. These things allowed me to hold on to bad company, and I did not know where to strike the balance.
I was enjoying life and ruining it at the same time. I thought I was having fun, that I was happy, but I was not.
We have a slogan in our program,
“If you want to keep what you have,
the only way is by giving
it away to others.”
The events of 8 years back changed everything for me. Taking responsibility for myself and my life was a turning point. When my parents and my wife backed out, that’s when I realized, “I’m on my own. I have to sort it out. I have to get it together.”
Now I’m going well. It’s fun. Doing the same thing that got me back to life 8 years ago keeps me going. We have a slogan in our program, “If you want to keep what you have, the only way is by giving it away to others.”
Illustrations by LAKSHMI GADDAM
Amit founded the Turning Point Rehab in Surat, Gujarat, in 2015. A recovering addict himself, he works with clients to help them recover physically, mentally, and spiritually. Turning Point is a pioneer in world-class holistic programs and amenities.