5 years in, Serenity House of Flint continues raising awareness of eastern medicine’s rehabilitation

FLINT, MichiganThe Serenity House of Flint (SHF) will be turning five years old in March. Since its founding, SHF, which focuses on addiction recovery, has established itself as a beacon of hope for those whose traditional rehab experiences proved unsuccessful.


The house, which is located inside Flint’s Stockton Center, does not offer the typical, more clinical rehabilitation approach. Rather its staff and volunteers use their knowledge of Eastern medicine and healing practices to offer a less traditional rehabilitation experience.


Tara Moreno, the house’s founder and executive director, considers herself lucky. In 2007, Moreno found herself in traditional treatment for her alcohol addiction. While one walk through the 12-step recovery program was enough for her, Moreno suffered from anxiety and depression until she came across holistic healing.


“When I found holistic [practices], my recovery really took off,” Moreno said.


Moreno immediately decided to share this with her community. “ ... Oh my gosh, I found something that really really helps me and it’s a natural approach, … how can I get it to the people of Flint, Michigan?”


Upon its founding, SHF was immediately met with skepticism. Many of the house’s programs like acudetox—a form of acupuncture with drumming circles where the constant beat of the drums is supposed to bring on a trance-like state—were seen as questionable practices at best and snake oil at worst.


SHF has tried to strike a balance between traditional rehabilitation methods and the methods it offers. The house’s situation is doubly complicated due to the fact its members are fighting both misperceptions of drug addiction as well as Eastern medicine.


“We have a double whammy, because it’s not just the stigma around addiction, it’s the stigma around holistic options … What we do is we provide options. We let the community know, ‘we can refer you out to treatment, we can give you an AA meeting,’ but we provide these holistic options,” Moreno said.


On top of programs like acudetox and drum circles, The Serenity House of Flint also hosts a weekly Holistic Healing Hour, which integrates the practices of mindful meditation and reiki. The hour focuses on increasing awareness of oneself and acknowledging the factors in life that may cause stress.


Morgan Gross, SHF’s reiki master and Holistic Healing Hour facilitator, was an IV (intravenous) heroin user for five years before successfully ending her addiction by using prescribed Suboxone, an opioid pain reliever. Though this form of harm reduction worked for her, Gross says being introduced to holistic rehab programs like the one offered at SHF had a deep impact on her recovery.


“That concept of healing your body, your mind and your spirit all together, it’s not something that is often approached in the current recovery treatment models … They do not include a holistic approach to healing the whole person.”


She says SHF’s programs offered her new perspectives and skills to deal with the rehabilitation process as well as other aspects of her life. “The meditation helped me learn how to process my emotions, [and] the Reiki really helped me learn how to connect with people...”


SHF will be hosting the Flint Recovery Arts and Music Show at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 13. Free Reiki services will be provided. The event will also feature a bake sale, live art demonstrations, and free Narcan distribution.


Moreno believes it is important for people to come together and connect. SHF is about building community and providing support. “There is so much hope, people leave … with hope in their heart, with this new found sense of passion about their lives and what they’re doing and that they can be the best version of themselves.”


Read more articles by Santiago Ochoa.

Santiago Ochoa is a freelance reporter looking to write about all things Flint. He especially enjoys investigative reporting and human-interest stories. A communications student at UM-Flint, Santiago currently serves as The Michigan Times' (the university's student-run newspaper) Editor-in-Chief. He has worked with publications and organizations like The New York Times and the Interamerican Press Association in the past. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @santi8a98 and can send any tips or comments to [email protected] Santiago is the project editor for Brownell-Holmes' On The Ground community reporting series.
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