Visit to India

AUK's recent visit to India

Addictions UK's managing director has recently visited India with a view to establishing India-based Spiritual Learning Journeys and Training Programmes. Here is the full blog of his visit.
To be kept up to date with our developing plans for Spiritual and Learning Journeys or Recovery and Training Courses in India in 2015 please contact us now

Day One

3rd September 2014

Hyderabad

Hyderabad

I flew from Newcastle International Airport today to Hyderabad via Dubai on an eleven year old 777 Emirates flight which was full in both the Business and Standard class cabins. I have rarely seen so many people drinking so heavily - How many people were heavy drinkers of alcohol and how many people could have benefitted from addiction treatment and support!

A taxi was waiting to take me to my hotel and I soon settled in to the comfortable surroundings of one of the five Taj Hotels in the City of Hyderabad. After a quick shower I travelled to The Hope Trust rehabilitation centre where we had a constructive discussion about recovery from addiction through a residential treatment service including detox services and how our partnership can continue to involve our respective former clients in ongoing addiction recovery. India is the crucible of the world's spirituality and one of the "test beds of the world" in a variety of social, economic and scientific advances.

The Hope Trust and Addictions UK will be researching during this week whether we can offer further Indian based training for people who have achieved significant progress in recovery in the United Kingdom. The best way to maintain sobriety and clean time is to follow a programme of continuous and day to day study. Hopefully we will be able to publish soon a series of courses in 2015 that will permit more opportunities of examining in depth further details of different recovery programmes all of which will be based on abstinence.

See more about our work in India letter this week. The opportunities for people to examine issues relating to recovery and spirituality are immense.

Day Two

4th September 2014

Hotel Staff

A member of the Hotel Staff

Friday is a beautiful morning here in Hyderabad and the day starts well with a good breakfast. It will be another busy day programme of events most of which will focus on the positive aspects of addictions recovery, good mental health with an even better understanding of how I am powerless within this massive Indian City.

My first visit was to the Hyderabad Social Care Centre - a multi purpose charitable mission. I met Fr. Charles who has experience at working in both India and the United States and who is very aware of the challenges facing people with drug and alcohol problems many of whom receive no treatment or support for their illness. It is the view of many that alcoholics deserve so special assistance. I was grateful to Fr.Charles for sharing information with me and providing me further contacts with people in recovery and medical doctors/hospitals and other rehabs and De-addiction Centres.

Thanks to being introduced by Charles, I met a wonderful man who was 15 years sober and clean who worked as a professional in the city of Hyderabad. He has arranged for me to meet the staff and patients of three hospitals/rehab centres in different parts of the city. These treatment agencies treat people on very low incomes and I look forward to learning from their experiences.

The day concluded with a visit to the well known Historian, Author and Retired Civil Service Mandarin, Mr. Narendra Luther, who has written extensively on he history and culture of Hyderabad. Mr Luther is the Chairman of The Hope Trust Rehabilitation Centre and enjoys a great deal of understanding about addiction within the family as the proud parent of a long tern addict in recovery. I was ultra affixed by the anecdotes he shared with me during the evening session and I cannot wait to read his latest book Legendotes of Hyderabad on my return to the United Kingdom.

Day Three

5th September 2014

Chowmahalla Palace

Chowmahalla Palace Watchtower
Bernard Gagnon - CC BY-SA 3.0

Day Three started on a warm but rainy Saturday - my diary presented a healthy mixture of visits to recovery related social projects or cultural centres of importance including The Chowmahalla Palace - once regarded as the centre of Hyderabad.

The palace was the seat of the Asafoetida Jahi Dynasty where the Nizams entertained Royal visitors. It was built over 200 years ago and is renowned for its unique style and elegance. The Palace has recently been restored and was an amazing site to see with a mix of architectural styles and influences.

I visited The Laad Bazaar - a massive market that was crammed full of people, stalls and shops. I was able to buy most of my souvenirs here and remembered the void advice to sharpen up on my bartering skills. Often Englishmen abroad are spotted from many yards off and receive high pressure sales tactics! The shops sell fabrics, saris, local scents, jewellery and food.

My last visit for retail therapy was FabIndia which is India's largest private platform for products that are made from traditional techniques, skills and hand-based processes. No bartering is required here as all prices are fair and clearly labelled.

My last meeting was with Dr Vijay Seshadri, Consultant Psychiatrist, who specialised in addictive disorders including addiction treatment. He advises the The Hope Trust in Hyderabad on alcohol addiction treatment and a variety of drug addiction treatment issues including medical detoxing. He is part of a group practice operating from both community locations and hospital settings. Dr Seshadri talked fluently about his role in offering treatment through traditional medical models whilst incorporating spiritual and eclectic methodology.

Day Four

6th September 2014

Small Temple

Small Temple

Meditation is for some people an extremely beneficial part of pursuing recovery from addiction. Our brain sometimes becomes so full of day to day tasks that we cannot function efficiently without resorting to our old behaviours.

Today we visited a spiritual community that teaches meditation and helps people with their own spirituality. Their members come from all over the world and this group have absolutely no interest in converting people from their religion or changing the God of their understanding. It is uncanny how much synergy there is between some spiritual recovery programmes and the main aims and objects of this particular organisation.

A second meeting was arranged today with another highly experienced person in spirituality and recovery from addictions who liaises closely with The Hope Trust in Hyderabad who will be advising Addictions UK on various aspects of our Training on addictive disorder and Spiritual Journeys. She will be able to provide a joined-up analysis of the different choices regarding meditation and other kinds of Spirituality. We plan to visit Ashrams and Meditation Centres. It is hoped that we will be able to incorporate some of the problem areas and taboos which may be identified in some therapeutic methodologies and practices in the addiction treatment organisations.

Today was a National Day of Celebration with major festivities and country wide activities so it was difficult to navigate through the local streets to attend meetings. We were disappointed that some of our meetings had to be cancelled because of the impossible logistics of navigating through the streets.

There will be more to say about our work in India later this week. The opportunities for people to examine issues relating to recovery and spirituality are immense.

Falaknuma Palace
Falaknuma Palace
Bernard Gagnon - CC BY-SA 3.0

Day Five

7th September 2014

My day began with breakfast with a charming Narcotics Anonymous member from London - a pleasant start for the day. International hotels attract some amazing people. Yesterday I had breakfast with two international citizens with homes in the USA, Philippines and India. They too had a child who was in recovery from addiction.

Later that morning we met a small group of men and women who had a great deal of knowledge about alcohol treatment and support in Hyderabad at the Falaknuma Palace - now a luxury hotel managed by the Taj Group. The Palace has extensive grounds and is a stunning example of the best of Hyderabad. Hopefully this Centre of Excellence might be used to host some sessions in the forthcoming Spiritual Learning Journeys and Addiction Treatment Training sessions.

Not far Way from the Palace lies the Salarjung Museum, India's third largest museum housing a very significant and substantial collection of antiques from all around the world.

After lunch we visited a major Gandhi Organisation and I was thoroughly impressed at the educational materials, digital records and overall structure of the centre. It was interesting that we were given a list of the qualities attributed to the great man and I could not help but think that these were all very good for people in recovery: The list includes Courage, Truth, Peace, Non Violence, Conscience, Integrity, Compassion, Equality, and Service.

The rest of the day was spent shopping, meeting with the staff group at The Hope Trust and enjoying a good evening meal with my fellow hotel companion, the Narcotics Anonymous member from good old London Town. We were able to share some excellent information on supporting addicts with drug and alcohol treatment including detox, and general issues about recovery from addiction.

Day Six

8th September 2014

Staff at the Roman Catholic Rehab

Staff at the Roman Catholic Rehab

I still cannot believe the richness of India's Spiritual life. There is so much to see here and surely India must be the crucible of the world"s spirituality. Addictions UK has been allowed to see just a few glimpses during the last few days but it has been enough to know that many people in recovery from addiction within this vast country have found not only sobriety and clean time but true serenity. Importantly, we have seen little evidence of evangelism but people can exercise a pick and mix concept to believe in anything they want.

One of India's richest Buddhist sites is Nagarjunakonda, a historic Buddhist town, now an island 150 km away from Hyderabad. It lies under the Nagarjunasagar Dam. But once was the location of many Universities and Monasteries. The archaeological sites there were dug up and transferred to higher higher ground on the hill which had become an Island. This morning I met a Buddhist follower and enjoyed hearing her stories.

This meeting was followed by a visit to three rehabs in the City of Hyderabad. The first was The Hope Trust, an International Rehab Centre of excellent standard. Addictions UK has been liaising with Rahul Luther and his team now for several months.

The second was at a private hospitalin the city that mainly dealt with detoxification but also manages a de-addiction ward and rooms.

Finally, we visited a rehab managed through the Catholic Church. Sadly, the RC Rehab lacked resources and training for their staff and I was deeply concerned at the plight of the residents and the (very) small staff group.

In the evening, I went to a Fellowship Meeting in Hyderabad and had fantastic meeting in the Anonymous Group.

Day Seven

9th September 2014

Taj Banjara Hotel

Hotel Taj Banjara

This is my last day in Hyderabad during this trip. It has been highly successful and I have deeply appreciated the friendship and hospitality of my hosts. The Hotel Taj Banjara has been an ideal location to set up an office and the suite of rooms that I have rented has been an ideal location in the city for people to come and meet me in the comfort of my office base. All the staff members have been very friendly and I have no hesitation of coming back to this Hotel when we return in 2015.

My first trip of the day was to LV Prassad, an established Social Enterprise specialising in medical/health for people with eye problems. It is a comprehensive eye health facility with its flagship campus in Hyderabad leading a network of 107 tertiary secondary and primary care centres across India. It has assisted 15 million (50 percent free of charge with complex medical help and surgery. It is one of the largest social enterprises in Hyderabad and was a great inspiration to Addictions UK, a very much smaller social enterprise in the UK and which seeks great inspiration from projects such as LV Prassad and the Aravind Eye Hospital – India and the World’s largest social enterprise.

The next visit was to The Hope Trust where we were able to sign an agreement together to continue to work together and to seek to provide even better drug and alcohol support to people in both India and the United Kingdom based on a professional addiction medical intervention and treatment. We discussed in great length the programme for our new 2015 India based Spiritual Learning Journeys and Training Programme which we will be announcing shortly.

The rest of the day was spent with general house-keeping tasks, some last minute shopping and packing. My flight to Dubai left at 10.00 pm and then onto the UK arriving the next day at lunch time. Coming home always seems to take longer because of the time difference and it does not help having a seven hour wait in Dubai.

I was grateful to all the kind friends who made my week in Hyderabad so successful. I cannot wait to return – but next time with other people in recovery from the United Kingdom.

Reflections

I am Gandhi Exhibition

I am Gandhi Exhibition

I have now safely returned home in the United Kingdom after an amazing Learning Journey to India. I was totally inspired by some many of the people whom I was able to meet who shared their strength, experience and hope with me. I met people from all walks of life involved in diverse subjects but the common factor of the journey was "recovery"

Our visit to the major Gandhi exhibition was one of the beacons of my journey. Some people who practice abstinence based recovery believe in powerlessness. For some people they interpret that concept as being totally passive and avoid world changing attempts. The Serenity Prayer teaches me that I should have "the Courage to change the things I can" and that is what Gandhi practiced. His qualities enabled him to live in the moment, not hold resentments and live a life that was an example to us all. Interestingly Gandhi’s son was an alcoholic and eventually died through this illness.

Another great influence during my visit was to look at one of the examples of spiritual communities that practice meditation. I spent half of one day holding meetings with a spiritual Yoga Community that practiced Meditation. There were so much synergy between the 12 Step Programme and this particular spiritual community that we thought it would really very helpful if we could incorporate a visit here during our next Learning Journey to India. For those people who would like to live in the moment, practice their meditation, then India is the place for you!

Link to this article: www.addictionsuk.com/Visit-to-India

Published 18th September 2014 at 11:00

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