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In a desperation move we gave our son a $20 bill and a one way ticket to Bangkok. It seems like the last thing you would do with an addict. And it was the last thing, because he’d been through most traditional Western forms of treatment without lasting success.  So why not do the most outrageous thing possible? Send him to a treatment monastery in Thailand.  By himself.

I learned about Thamkrabok years before we sent our son there.  The monastery has been around since the 1960’s and many people claim it has the highest success rate for sustained recovery in the world.  Basically  it is a detox center.  The Medicine Monks cultivate an exclusive plant that they make into a drink that induces vomiting.  For several days the addicts puke and steam bath out their toxins.  Then they take their sacred sanjja vow.

Our son spent 30 days at Thamkrabok and then moved on to New Life, a working rehab commune associated with Thamkrabok which uses yoga, mindful thinking, Buddhism, and other forms of Eastern traditions to work on recovery.  Several months later he returned to Thamkrabok and took his vows as a “temporary” monk to work with addicts.

One day, dressed in his brown monk’s robes with his shaved head, he was walking to town.  A car pulled over, a man got out, bowed, and handed him a cold drink and a granola bar.  These acts of kindness to monks are common in Thailand. But imagine that my son may have felt he actually deserved and had earned that small gift through the work he was doing to help others.  Imagine the shift that might have caused in his self-worth.

In all, our son spent 15 months seeking recovery abroad in Thailand, India and Nepal. We feel it is a success story (so far, please God let it be forever) because we took him so far out of his environment that he had to truly consider sobriety in order to make his way in foreign places.  In the next article, our son will share his experiences in his own words.

Also, it was very inexpensive compared to Western treatment centers which allowed us to afford a lengthy rehab.  Websites: and

I am not suggesting that traditional Western recovery doesn’t work.  I know it does, and I want to share your success stories in this space.  Let’s help each other Through the Scary.  Please share your experiences. Contact me at

Need help now?  JTNN offers weekly meetings with THE PARENT GROUP, 6:30p Thursdays at 505 S. Arlington. Confidential, FREE, and run by a licensed counselor.

Laura Newman