Kamilla Marjai, addictologist: “Nowadays, people feel awkward about reaching out for help, unfortunately.”

“We are in sore need of role models in Hungary. The mentors of the 50 Young Hungarian Talents program are such leading figures who can share their intellectual and social capital, not only supporting the development of these 50 extraordinary young people, but they also take part in forming a society in which all the members are open and feel responsible for the newer generations.” – said Zsolt Barta, the founder of the project.

Kamilla Marjai, a consultant in the field of addictology, a therapist of behavioural difficulties, theatre educator, was only 15, when she decided she wanted to study addictology. She first heard about theatre pedagogy in a supporting group for troubled young people dealing with addictions. Her mentor is musician, actor and director Péter Novák.

Péter Novák – Photo by Tamás Kőszegi

Why did you decide to apply to this program? What was your main goal?

On one hand, I wanted to learn about the effective ways of connecting theatre with therapy and I was also curious about what the value of my specialty would be in such a competitive situation, if my field of study can get attention or not, if such an important sociological and psychological problem as the matter of addictology is able to get a positive feedback.

How can Péter Novák help you and what is your co-operation like?

I was very happy to have him as my mentor as he has a very deep sense, too. He adds an artistic quality to my knowledge of addictions and addicts. We are both open to create something out of this. We would like to work with recovering addicts and we would like to capture the process in a way, maybe in a form of a play. I look up to him in a great deal, but we have become a bit less formal, like to colleagues working together.

What is the professional viewpoint with regards to the recovery: do you advise complete isolation or some legal drugs are allowed to be used?

I think it would be unrealistic to expect a young person not to use sort of drugs at all, especially because the theory stating that marijuana would be the gateway to other drugs has been overthrown. Plus, the first psychoactive drug we reach out for is alcohol which is an accepted drug by both social and cultural standards. It’s the extent of usage that we have to be careful about. It might be easier with drinking, but in case of other things, it may be more difficult to keep it under an alarming level. There are various methods and answers in connection with this question, but there are several open arguments in the field of addictology. What I would definitely suggest to a recovering addict is to stay away from designer drugs as those are the least predictable ones that can trigger a serious addiction in a very short time and they can cause psychiatric issues or illnesses even.

Kamilla Marjai – Photo by Tamás Kőszegi

Which age-group do you consider to be the most endangered?

There is not certain answer for that. Young people are obviously in great danger and the earlier they try something out, the bigger risk they take in connection with developing an addiction. Sometimes it happens that children have their first encounters with drugs at the age of on 8 or 9.  For me, it’s a very new experience to see older men and women who are already retired, they might have lost their partner and their children are already left the family nest, and they suddenly feel lonely and helpless – that’s when they start to have problems with drinking, for example.

How can someone cope with their addictions?

One of my teacher said it once: You need a crisis to be able to make a change. That is something that has been on my mind since then and that’s what I see around me, not only in case of addicts, but just in life generally. Our clients usually reach the point when the abuse of drugs become completely unbearable, when their lifestyle that is distorted by their addiction is no longer sustainable. For most people, that is the time they realise the urgent need of changing their circumstances. Sometimes, their loved ones want the recovery more than the person with the addiction. But as they are unable to articulate the problem, as long as they don’t feel motivated enough to make a change, nothing will happen. That’s not the kind of trouble you are able to get out of by yourself.