Hope Trust’s treatment program with a recommended length of stay of at least three months, self-admittedly caters to those who can afford it – it is a comfortable facility with modern amenities.
However, Rahul and Rajeshwari Luther, Founder Directors at Hope Trust, look beyond their Hyderabad-based centre – in fact beyond India – when it comes to spreading the word about effective treatment.
Hope Trust does not believe that their mission ends with providing world-class treatment at their facility only for those who can afford it. Hope Trust spends a significant amount of resources – both time and money - travelling to other places in India and abroad, talking about how to help individuals and families suffering from addiction.
“We are deeply committed to ensuring every addict wherever they are gets treatment,” says Rajeshwari Luther, when we spoke with her in December, soon after she returned from a tour of the state of Punjab in northern India.
Unique business model
Describing their business model as altruistic, she said: “We do not recover the money spent on such tours, but believe it is spent on a good cause and gives us great satisfaction in fulfilling our business goals which go beyond profits”. Rajeshwari describes her organization’s work as altruistic.
Such work is not meant to promote the Hope Trust model; in fact, most people in India perhaps couldn’t afford it. But Rajeshwari, who like Rahul has devoted their lives to the cause, says she views it as Hope Trust’s responsibility “to educate the world about what works.”
Rahul and Rajeshwari have been travelling and networking with treatment providers for over a decade. They have also visited neighboring countries and Middle East, most notably Sultanate of Oman, and seen a variety of treatment systems. “While these are shaped by historical, cultural and governmental perspectives, we have seen these evolve over the years”, observes Rahul.
“As the drug scenario changes, the affected society sometimes is late in responding to the situation and then they have to go into a fire-fighting mode, as we recently saw in Punjab”. High demand and low supply of treatment options also leads to unscrupulous elements getting into the picture”. Rajeshwari and Rahul Luther interact with providers about how to use available resources. “Sometimes, one has to be really creative in designing solutions”.
She adds, “We need to sensitize families and treatment providers about what works and what doesn’t. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that people who can’t afford our treatment center still get the best care they possibly can.”
The duo from Hope Trust is often accompanied with Raisa, a UK-trained therapist at Hope Trust. She is able to translate and integrate effective approaches into practical tools that can be used wherever she is speaking. “I take the best evidence-based, cost-effective, resource-efficient therapies and put them together in a culturally appropriate package,” she says.
She looks at what other researchers are finding in other parts of the world - UK, Europe and US. “I look at what they’re doing and how it can be adapted to local scenarios. apply to addiction treatment,” says Raisa. “I look at therapies that are inexpensive and relevant to the social and cultural context of addicts, wherever they come from”.
Stigma is universal
A key issue, particularly significant in developing countries, involves stigma. “Families are not aware or accepting of the fact that addiction is a “disease’ and social stigma makes them delay or even avoid treatment. In some countries, family honour and reputation are most important, sometimes even overriding the well-being of the addicted individual”.
“Family dynamics is a very important factor in treatment”, says Rajeshwari who is oversees the family therapies at Hope Trust. Many rehabilitation centres ignore this part of the treatment process. “We believe the members of a family are as, if not more, affected by an addict in the family. We have a highly evolved family support program that deals with issues such as co-dependency, restoring communication and healing broken relationships. This is vastly more important in countries such as India and the Middle East, because the family is paramount. The complex relationships between family members are culturally diverse and the therapists need to be aware of this”.
Unending experience for ever-improving treatment
Raisa and her colleagues also keep abreast with research being done on the subject. However, she feels that “the most research is being done in clinical settings, which are sometimes far removed from ground realities and may not prove to be practical in real-life situations. We go through journals and try and integrate evidence-based holistic therapies and adapt these to local settings and situations. For instance, Yoga and mindfulness are now proven to be highly beneficial in addiction recovery and we have integrated these into the rehabilitation program at Hope Trust”.
Hope Trust continues to travel extensively in India and overseas, striving to teach and in the process learn more about the best treatment options for addictions and dual diagnosis.
Moreover, “we love to travel, it is fun. We combine both passions – addiction treatment and travel – and it is a fulfilling life”, says Rajeshwari.