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Serenity Foundation

Serenity Foundation
Himabindu Chitta / fullhyd.com
Background
True to the name, the premises of the Serenity Foundation in a quiet corner of Secunderabad are bathed in peace and calm. Inside, a group of 9 men sit in a semi-circle; they listen, take notes and some even venture to speak out. With their enthusiasm and willingness to learn, they look more like students than like men fighting for their lives.

A relatively new organization, the Serenity Foundation was begun in August 2004 to help people with a problem of alcohol addiction and chemical dependency. It is one of the very few inpatient de-addiction centers in the city. This 25-bed facility has helped 48 patients until now, of whom 21 continue to be sober today.

Chetan, the Management Trustee, is the founding member and guiding force behind the organization. His background in psychology, coupled with the fact that he himself was a recovering alcoholic until a few years ago, makes him an effective friend, counsellor and guide.

Activities
Those who come seeking help stay at the Serenity Foundation for 2 months, during which they undergo intensive individual and group counselling. Chetan, whose own recovery came through the Alcoholics Anonymous' 12-step program, follows the same approach at Serenity. Once in a few weeks, the "boys" attend AA meetings and share their experiences with others.

The classroom sessions give patients practical advice on how to begin the process of recovery, while their emotional and spiritual well-being is ensured through prayer and group therapy sessions. Some time is devoted every day to articulating their thoughts and feelings to their fellow patients, which helps them destroy their negative insticts. However, the Foundation gate is still locked at all times for fear that inmates might try to escape.

Membership And Volunteering Opportunities
Alcohol and drug addiction is still a taboo subject in India. Discussions on the issue are always hush-hush, and people are afraid to come out of the closet for fear of being ostracised. Society's stubborn refusal to allow people with a history of addiction back into the mainstream kills the spirit of openness that alone can encourage more people to seek help.

While it is heartening to see more people seeking help for their addiction problem, a concerted effort needs to be made by the community to help these individuals. Donations are always welcome, but those willing to actually devote their time and be volunteers for Serenity should fall into at least one of the following three categories:

(a) Recovered addicts
(b) A person of a family where another member is/was an addict
(c) A person with a degree and some experience in social work

If you qualify, you could contact the Foundation and offer to be a counsellor. If a friend or a family member is an addict, encourage him/her to seek help. Instead of distancing yourself from such people, try to be empathetic and helpful.
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