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When Austin boarded the plane to Bangkok, his life was so far from normal that the idea of going to a Buddhist rehab monastery in Thailand just seemed like one more weirdness.

“I was a shell of a person and it’s rough at Thamkrabok.  You get your little mat, a bell rings and you go vomit.  But the detox works – simple and true.  It cleans your system out.  People coming off drugs who could not sleep for months were able to sleep within a few weeks.  I was brought to a place of health.”

After his 30 day detox at Thamkrabok, Austin moved to an associated community called New Life, which he feels provides cutting edge recovery.  “New Life tries anything that will support a healthy life style – meditation, yoga, 12 step, counseling, work-shops. It’s a self-supporting community, so everyone has responsibilities.” Austin felt that it was the stepping stone that he needed and that it takes a lot more work than just 30 days in rehab to be able to hold on to sobriety.

It was at New Life that Austin gained spirituality.  He says he is closest to Buddhism, but feels no need for a label. “I saw the harm that I caused and the good that I’m capable of.  I saw my choice.  During addiction you don’t have a choice, you have to use.  I saw that I had a choice to use or not.”

After New Life, Austin decided to go back to Thamkrabok and take his vows as a monk.

It was the beginning of giving back.  Now he was the helper.  In all, Austin spent 15 months abroad working on recovery. He follows Western recovery methods now that he is home, and believes they work, too.

Austin’s advice to parents: “Tough love.  The only thing you should offer them is treatment for the addiction.  Any other type of help is just helping them to be a better addict.”

Austin’s advice to addicts:  “Ask and find help that fits you, then try what is suggested. Don’t talk yourself out of recovery. You will get your dreams back.”

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Laura Newman