Thamkrabok Monastery gives drug addicts their life back



Located about 140 kilometres north of Bangkok, the renowned Thamkrabok Monastery Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in the central province of Saraburi has for decades been providing a herbal detoxification answer to drug addicted locals and foreigners alike.

This cheerful music is to give moral support to those going through drug rehabilitation at Thamkrabok Monastery. The detoxification is not only for Thais; but around 100 foreigners, of whom 80 per cent are British and German, also flock to the centre every year to get treatment.

Brian from Ireland came to Thailand with five of his friends for treatment. He said he knew of the centre through a radio show and an anti-drug network in his home country.

After having gone through the rehab for 10 days, he said his health condition had obviously improved. The process was simple and without pain, so he was confident he could stop using drugs for good.

“This medicine works. It works better than at home now. I would still be going through withdrawal symptoms from the heroin. But when I come to Thamkrabok, I take this medicine and it speeds up the process,” said Brian, a drug addict under treatment.

Monk Julien from Belgium has been ordained for 6 years after he was completely cured from drug addiction. He admitted Thamkrabok’s treatments were different from those in Europe and truly helped drug patients to become clean once again.

“Hospitals back home will give you drug substitutes or tranquilisers like methadone or Valium, and you’ll become addicted to those pills, and that doesn’t help. But here you’re treated with herbal remedies to which you won’t become addicted. It takes only 5 days and you can stop using drugs,” said monk Julien.

The whole rehabilitation processes, divided into 2 parts, takes around 15 days.

Physical detoxification, taking only 20 per cent, or the first 5 days, of the whole process, includes vomiting, taking strong herbal medicine and bolus or herbal black pills, and a steam bath.

The other 80 per cent is purely about mental detoxification through dhamma conversations, meditation and a vow to build up one’s will power or mind’s strength.

“It’s not about curing headaches, fevers or stomachaches. It’s about the mind of the drug addict. If the person stops using drugs but has nothing to hold onto, then he or she’ll go back to drugs again. So, having a strong will is important, and that’s why our treatments are different from others,”said Monk Boonsong Thanacharo, Thamkrabok Monastery abbot.

In October, a conference on Buddhism and drug rehabilitation will be held in the United States, where the treatment methods of Thamkrabok Monastery are to be officially introduced to the world stage. It will be a good opportunity for Thailand to show how drug and alcohol addiction is cured through Thai folk wisdom and the teaching of Lord Buddha. (TNA)