Finding Balance

Shruti Nambiar
Posted: Mon Oct 31 2011, 00:59 hrs

Santulan de-addiction centre has been running a successful dabba service operated by recovering addicts. It will soon open a free clinic to provide them counselling and medication

Javed Pathan was a down-and-out brown sugar addict in Surat, Gujarat, when one day he got to know about Santulan. The Pune-based NGO helps addicts recover from their habits and finds them sources of employment and self confidence. Pathan was drawn to this idea and came to Pune for a 15-day de-addiction session. That was six months ago. The 43-year-old has stayed on at Santulan with eight other recovering addicts.

Today Pathan makes a living out of filling and delivering tiffins that are prepared by the Santulan catering service. “I have become an all-round driver here,” he chuckles. “I thought of staying on here because going back would have meant life on a footpath and more drugs. I have deeply hurt many friends and family members due to my addiction. I wanted to reform. Here they take good care of us, give us all facilities. I am as good as a normal earning man now.”

Santulan de-addiction centre was founded this year in June by six recovering addicts when they realised that there is no protocol in place to help them beyond detox camps. “So we decided to adopt a three-pronged approach – make a directory of all the details and skill-sets of the addicts who come to us; train them in tailoring, mechanic work and catering; and help them become independent by finding them work,” says Dwijen Smart, one of the founding members, and a former multiple-substance addict who has been clean for the last 16 years. Santulan now successfully runs a catering service that provides 49 lunch and dinner dabbas around Gokhale Nagar, overseen by Smart’s wife, Shilpa. “There are no non-addicts working in Santulan,” says Smart.

The next step in Santulan’s programme will be realised on November 3 when it inaugurates a de- addiction clinic at Gokhale Nagar. The clinic will provide a mix of counseling and OPD medication, helmed by one psychiatrist, two psychologists and one general practitioner. “We didn’t want it to lose importance by making it completely free, so we will charge Rs 5 or 10 to whoever can afford it,” says Smart. The clinic has been bolstered by support from local corporators to NGOs, doctors, HIV activists and Wake Up Pune, an initiative of which Smart is a co-founder. “The clinic is open to all addicts, but within a year we want to start a female-specific counseling group,” says Smart.

An important pipeline project for which Santulan awaits funds is a research on volatile solvents, like whiteners, and youngsters who use them. “We want to analyse what are the short-term and long-term effects of sniffing whitener and why these kids use them repeatedly. We ultimately want to devise a treatment module for them, because many of these addicts start when they are eight years old. A module for adults cannot help them,” explains Smart. He feels a six-month long research on 100 kids from Pune and Mumbai will reveal good results.

(Santulan clinic will be inaugurated on November 3, at 5 pm. To support their dabba service, contact – 9404962479)

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Shruti Nambiar Tags : Javed Pathan, Santulan, de-addiction session, mechanic work Posted: Mon Oct 31 2011, 00:59 hrs

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