Crystal meth, or ‘ice’ as it is also known, is a devastating drug that is continuing to destroy the lives of many people all over the world. Ice is a powerful form of the drug methamphetamine, which produces intense highs followed by severe comedowns. A methamphetamine addiction is a serious illness and one that is extremely difficult to beat due to the intense cravings that users experience. However, ice addicts in Indonesia are using boxing as a therapy to keep themselves on the straight and narrow.

Kicking the Habit

Jundullah Muhammad Fauzan is an Indonesian national featherweight champion who admits that it was tough to beat his methamphetamine addiction. Fauzan struggled with an addiction to crystal meth for nearly ten years and said that conquering his demons was far from easy.

Nevertheless, he is part of a unique rehab programme in Indonesia where boxing has become a valuable therapeutic tool to help recovering addicts on their journey to a clean and healthy life. Fauzan said, “Staying clean is a hard journey. I don’t want to have too many expectations, but boxing has definitely helped my life.”

Tough Laws

Addiction in Indonesia often results in premature death or time spent behind bars, with the country adopting some of the toughest drugs laws in the world. Nonetheless, many recovering drug addicts are benefiting from the same programme as Fauzan and are using the boxing gym as a haven to help them stay clean.

Getting caught with drugs in Indonesia will usually mean a tough prison sentence, even if the drugs were for personal use. In 2015, the country executed 14 people who were found guilty of drug trafficking. This is what makes programmes like this all the more important to those struggling with illnesses such as crystal meth or methamphetamine addiction.

Drug Crisis

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has said his country is facing a ‘drug crisis’ and has used this statement to justify the harsh laws on drugs. The Indonesian Narcotics Agency estimated that there were 4.2 million drug users in the country in 2015, with the highest number of users based in West Java province.

However, because of a lack of rehab services in the province, five recovered addicts decided to open their own centre, Pine House. Their aim was to use sports and counselling to help drug users to overcome their illnesses. The centre also works with those living with HIV or AIDS.

Initially, the group of founders opened up soccer clinics, but when they branched out to boxing in 2013, they knew they had found a programme that works.

Boxing Enthusiasts

Pine House soon began to attract a large number of boxing enthusiasts to a Bandung outdoor gym that they fitted with simple boxing equipment such as skipping ropes and punching bags. Those who attend can spend their time between boxing training and counselling sessions.

Eva-Dewi Rahmadiani is one of the patients at Pine House, and she said that after years of illness brought on by HIV and addiction, she now feels much stronger and fitter. She trains a number of times every week and said that although she found the sessions tough initially, she has a lot of energy despite the drugs she takes for HIV. She also said that her urge for illicit drugs has faded thanks to the programme, and added, “It just makes me happier. It elevates my spirit and reminds me that life isn’t over.”

Addiction Stigma

Indonesian drug addicts are often stigmatised, according to one of Pine House’s founders Ginan Koesmayadi. He said, “The stigma drives drug users deeper into despair, and their health ultimately worsens.”

He added that Pine House offers recovering addicts a place where they are free from harassment and free from prejudice.

Campaigners and activists within the country, for the most part, do not agree with how the government is tackling the drugs problem. They say that it focuses more on law enforcement and religion than it does on the issue of rehabilitation. Nevertheless, a government spokesperson stated that although there was a lack of addiction facilities in the country, the narcotics agency vehemently denied that its focus was to punish drug users. Slamet Prbadi said, “The government has been trying recently to strike a balance between rehabilitation and law enforcement, but perhaps it can seem like we only care about prosecutions.”

Success Stories

There is no denying that Pine House see Fauzan as one of their true success stories considering he is now a national boxing champion having overcome a crippling ice addiction. Nonetheless, he is not the only success story; Resnu Sundava began drinking alcohol at the age of ten and by the time he was a teenager, he was dabbling in drugs. His subsequent drug and alcohol addictions saw him abandoned by his family, but since joining the gym in 2015, he has made so much improvement. He is now twenty-two years old and is a professional boxer, just like Fauzan. He has already taken part in a number of professional fights in Indonesia and East Timor. He said, “Now I have the courage to dream again. I want to be a world champion.”

Source: Daily Mail