Traditionally, Thailand has been associated with terms like “meditation” and “reflection.” With famed Buddhist temples throughout the country, it is a common destination for people undertaking spiritual journeys. Well interestingly enough, it has now become a popular mecca for people looking to overcome addictions. So much so, in fact, that CNN produced an entire expose on the subject.
The article, written by CNN contributor Julie Zaugg, focused on a few key destinations within the country that are seeing the largest recovery surge. One particular temple (named Thamkrabok) sits about 80 miles north of Bangkok and has gained international acclaim for its treatment success.
People from all over the world have sought out Thamkrabok, with a growing population stemming from the United States. Patient director Mae Chee Katrisha spoke to Zaugg about the growing interest in her “recovery temple.”
“We usually have around 50 drug addicts and alcoholics traveling here each year, including about 10 Westerners,” Katrisha explained. “And we treat all major addictions, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and alcohol.”
Thamkrabok is unique because it incorporates spiritual practices into its regimen. Chants are part of the daily mantra (specifically a repetitive chorus of the word “overcome”), as well as cymbals and tambourines. There are also unique herbs that patients ingest, which, as Katrisha explained, help with the detox process.
While many have found success in an environment like Thamkrabok, the article warns that their are risks involved when it comes to detoxing in a foreign land. Being away from your base and family can create problems and certain homesick paranoias can set in.
On the flip side, though, the article also called out several luxury treatment centers located throughout Thailand. One such center, known as The Cabin, is located in the region of Chiang Mai. Here residents can enjoy multiple swimming pools, a modern gym with personal trainers and Thai boxing classes (all in the mountains of a tropical paradise). There are even Thai cooking classes.
The Cabin is known to cost quite a bit of money, but it too has has a high success rate. Their head therapist, an American named Mike Miller, went on to describe its appeal.
“Most of our clients are high-functioning individuals who lost their way,” Miller explained. “We use cognitive-behavioral therapy, as well as trauma management tools. We try to understand the underlying causes of addiction, not just free the patients from their substance of choice. We also have everyone hand over their mobile phones and money, to completely disconnect from life back h0me.”
Though the jury is still out on whether international recovery has better result rates than facilities close to home, stories like this are quite interesting. Hopefully both sides can learn and improve from each others’ lessons.