Thamkrabok Monastery Rehab Is it Right for You? (Pros & Cons)
Generally speaking, the quality of addiction treatment has been steadily rising as the world comes to better understand the challenges of addiction. Yet this trend towards extravagance is by no means universal. One Thailand monastery rehab is standing out by sticking to tradition – a tradition that is as intriguing as it is uncompromising. Its no-nonsense approach, where everything old is indeed new again, attracts a steady stream of addicts searching desperately for a path to sobriety… however uncomfortable it might be.
Abandon All Drugs, Ye Who Enter Here The Methods of Wat Thamkrabok
Modern comforts at this Wat Thamkrabok monastery are few and far between, and people entering addiction treatment are encouraged to bring their own long socks (as a guard against mosquitoes) and an extra blanket or sheet for a better sleeping experience.
What to Expect from buddhist rehab in thailand
How Thailand’s Extreme Rehab “Cures” Addiction
Physical Detoxification - Vomit-Inducing Solution
Spiritual Purification - Taking a Vow
Pros & Cons of Thailand's Buddhist Rehab
Even if ultimately effective, however, few will enjoy the experience. Very strict rules, a lack of creature comforts, and generally mediocre living conditions make for a less-than-ideal stay. Moreover, as we discuss below, professionals in the field of addiction treatment fear that treatment of the kind given at this Buddhist rehab in Thailand may merely treat the face of addiction itself, rather than the underlying causes which created it in the first place. Such treatments are considered incomplete according to a modern understanding of addiction, as they open the door to an increased likelihood of relapse.
A side-by-side comparison of monastery rehab vs quality residential rehab can be illustrative of the different choices that these two disparate approaches represent.
|Monastery Rehab||Residential Rehab|
|Accommodation||Bare, minimalist, crowded rooms||Private and sharing beds (possibly in dorm)|
|Length of stay||Minimum 7 days||Minimum 30 days|
|Cost||Free (plus food and donation)||From $6,000 to $60,000 – depending on quality, location, and length of stay|
|Treatment model||Intensive purification techniques based on a Buddhist understanding of imbalance||CBT, medical attention, and a holistic approach to addressing underlying causes|
|Rules||Austere; not based on the social / emotional needs of the participants||Allows personal freedom as long as it does not interfere with the likelihood of successful treatment|
|Peer support||Fellow addicts provide moral support by cheering and singing spiritual songs during detoxification||Group therapy, including AA / NA meetings|
|Supervisors||The programme is administered by the monk and ex-addict assistants||Trained, certified and experienced addiction counsellors|
|Setting||Traditional Buddhist temple||Isolated locations, often with a natural backdrop|
|Detox process||Time and emetics||Careful monitoring by certified professionals, over time|
Traditional vs buddhist approaches to addiction
Is this Buddhist Rehab right for you?
- Are comfortable with basic accommodation and amenities
- Do not have a complex dual diagnosis which requires a multidisciplinary approach
- Have no health complications that may require medical support
- Have an addiction to opioids and stimulant drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine
- Tried and failed to get clean at several traditional rehab clinics (Wat Thamkrabok might be worth a shot)
- Can’t afford treatment in a traditional residential setting, although here you will only get detox alone and no psychological therapy
- Are ready and willing to change – the treatment only works if you are serious. The vow taken at Wat Thamkrabok is considered unbreakable; there are no ‘second chances’ given in case of failure
Final Thoughts on monastery rehab
Despite these caveats, many who came to the extreme rehab for treatment insist that it saved them. The spiritual dimension added by the monastery’s Buddhist approach may have benefits akin to the ‘belief in a higher power’ that is a central pillar of the traditional approach taken by AA.
Detox from central nervous system depressants such as alcohol, opioids (heroin or morphine), and Benzodiazepines (e.g. Valium, Temazepam) is not recommended with this method. Attempting the Wat Thamkrabok method in such cases could be very dangerous and even life-threatening, as detox from these substances require substitute drugs, which then need to be tapered off rather than forcing the addicted person to go cold turkey.
- “Classifying Drugs by Their Effect on the Central Nervous System.” Australian Government: Department of Health, www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-publicat.htm.
- “General Information about Wat Thamkrabok.” Wholehearted Living, hungryghostretreats.org/thamkrabok-assistance-and-recovery-advice/wat-thamkrabok-general-information/.
- “Wat Thamkrabok.” Official Wat Thamkrabok Homepage, wat-thamkrabok.org/.