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A medical student trained as a NADA ADS has been traveling to her native India to assist with the continuing growth of NADA’s activities in South Asia. She is Shonali Saha, a Lincoln Recovery Center-trained ADS who made two trips to India this year before beginning her studies at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Her interest in addiction treatment grew out of her work in New York with the Gay Men's Health Crisis organization, which is headed by former NADA president Ana Oliveira.
Before leaving for India, Shonali spoke to NAD co-founder Michael O. Smith, who arranged for her to meet Suneel Vatsyayan, director of NADA India. After working in Calcutta and west Bengal, Shonali joined Suneel at NADA headquarters in Delhi, where he was already providing acu detox and trainings at a police-run drug treatment facility.

NADA India comprises a network of programs that works collectively towards providing holistic, education centered treatment. The organization opened its office last summer, and according to Suneel an ADS and social worker, new services are being added regularly. He reports that Shonali is among a number of volunteers from India and abroad who are providing services to various communities in Delhi and beyond.

While in Delhi, Shonali gave acu detox trainings to various local addiction treatment-related programs, including a needle exchange program, a drop-in detox program, and a residential rehab center. Meanwhile, Suneel trained various providers from satellite programs that represented 15 areas of India in NADA’s five needle protocol. Together, Suneel and Shonali also helped set up new acu detox clinics, and provided technical support as the clinics took off on their own. During this time they developed preliminary data sheets to help gather data on the new clinics. The focus of data collection was for the clinics to track outcomes for their own patients, which Shonali found was much easier in the more long-term, residential facilities.

In addition, NADA India works closely with peer-led drug treatment centers, where people who have previously been in treatment and who have trained with Suneel learn to start up their own treatment centers. NADA India supports the ARPAN (Association of Recovering Peer Action Network) project, a network of peer-led treatment facilities working to reduce high-risk behavior related to persons affected by drug use and HIV/AIDS.

The project aims to establish and implement a standard of care among the members of the network. As the NADA India website states, “this network is of a major strategic significance because it provides a platform for the first time to bring peer led rehabilitation facilities together in a systematic way to discuss and improve the quality of care they provide. This network reaches out to more than five hundred drug users daily.” Nine different facilities comprise the ARPAN network.

Shonali monitored and evaluated these new facilities, and she emphasizes the importance of peer-led education and treatment. Many of the individuals served by NADA India are illiterate, and only find out about prevention and treatment options through friends and family members. As described in its mission statement, NADA India aims “to establish and mobilize a network of community based services to empower and develop leadership among marginalized and vulnerable populations, especially adolescents and women, through the promotion of education, employment, supportive services, and healthy living.”

One clear example of NADA India’s ability to empower individuals is the organization Pehachaan, a youth driven initiative that aims to provide a variety of services to young people in Delhi. Pehachaan, a word which means “young person’s identity”, supports adolescents in their goals to be self-reliant. Pehachaan originally selected and trained 11 young women who met weekly to discuss health topics that they chose, such as food and water accessibility, HIV, diabetes, and drug use.

The young adults of Pehachaan produced and broadcast a radio show addressing topics ranging from identity to HIV/AIDS to sexuality, and they use radio to target youth listeners. Pehachaan also conducts vocational and self-empowerment groups in Chattarpur Urban Village for young women, with the goal of providing employable skills and exploring social and emotional issues.
Source: Guide Point a NADA (US.) publication

Now Dr.Shonali Shah is CEO & Founder Whole and Healthy Youth· July 2014 to present · Atlanta, Georgia Adolescent and Young Adult Addiction Specialist

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