General Information about Wat Thamkrabok
General Information to Prepare You for your Journey
The Administration Office is open EVERYDAY: from 10 am to 4 pm
For more information and details about the Wat Thamkrabok Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre, please contact:
Moo (village) 11
T H A I L A N D
Tel: +66 36-266-292
Fax: +66 36-266-067
If you experience problems contacting the Monastery please try contacting the
Friends of Thamkrabok Monastery support group who may be able to help.
For a wholly Buddhist path of recovery see : www.5th-Precept.org
BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT
Wat Thamkrabok closes every year from March 25th until about May 1st so you can’t get treatment during those dates. The last day to check-in for a 10-day detox is March 14th. Thamkrabok re-opens its doors to addicts and visitors from around 5th May each year… please check with the temple BEFORE booking your flight.
If affordable and possible, you should buy a direct flight to Bangkok. Try not to buy a very cheap flight that may involve a stopover or change of airplane on route. Your goal is to keep your total travelling time from home to the Monastery as short as reasonably possible.
If flying to Thailand, you should try to arrive in Bangkok BEFORE noon (12:00). This is to ensure that you will get to the Monastery in time for Sajja (the sacred vow) at 14:00 and your first treatment at 15:00. This advice cannot be emphasised enough… if you get to Thamkrabok after 15:00 you will have to wait 24 hours or longer before you can take the medicine.
Some suggestions for what you should take with you – see Packing List.
SELF-MEDICATION BEFORE DEPARTURE
You are not going to Thamkrabok Temple to ‘give up’ drugs but you are going there to stop taking drugs. There is a difference; just as there is a world of difference between ‘abstinence’ and ‘abandonment’; the first keeps you safe but you are still a prisoner; the second sets you completely free. This is the liberation of Sajja.
By now, you must have already made up your mind to get clean so there is no point in any last ‘party’ or ‘binge’ or ‘treats’ that all carry the risk overdose or worse.
Don’t do anything stupid in your home country that will stop you travelling to Thailand and don’t do anything on the journey that will stop you getting into Thailand. If you turn up stoned or drunk or if you just look intoxicated they will just put you straight back on an aeroplane home.
You should have been cutting down your use of drugs and/or alcohol before leaving for Thailand. If you do this there will be less risk of you getting arrested before you leave home etc; there will be less risk of you being turned away and sent home by Thai Immigration Officials etc; and your journey and detoxification treatment at Thamkrabok will be a whole lot easier.
Take your last hit before leaving home or on your journey to the airport. Dispose of any drug paraphernalia sensibly and safely. Just take enough to get you from home to Thailand. Do not even think about taking ANY drugs into Thailand.
Do not drink alcohol on the journey unless absolutely necessary. ALCOHOLICS should have cut down or stopped drinking completely before travelling to Thailand.
BEFORE and DURING YOUR JOURNEY
You should avoid any drinks with caffeine (Coke, Pepsi, Tea and Coffee) for a couple of weeks BEFORE leaving for Thailand; throughout your treatment and for several weeks after getting home after detox.
In you hand luggage you should keep a change of cloths (or at least a change of underwear) and a toilet roll. Some journeys can be delayed and withdrawal symptoms can set in all too quickly. Also, keep some plastic bags and tissues handy in case you are travel sick.
ON ARRIVAL IN THAILAND
Once you arrive at Bangkok Airport you will need to get to the Monastery as quickly as possible. Please don’t think about chasing that one last hit… it may turn out to be your last! Just get yourself to Thamkrabok. Follow this link for some advice and directions for getting to Thamkrabok.
It is possible to arrange for the Monastery to send a car to collect you. Just e-mail Mae Shee Rambhai (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details and costs.
The facilities provided at the Monastery are “Thai style” and are basic even by local standards. You should remember that the facilities were built for Thai addicts, so do not expect to find European style bathrooms and comforts. For at least the first five days you will be in a compound with other addicts. Your conduct and response to treatment will be closely monitored.
You will be spending three to four weeks at the Monastery depending upon flight schedules etc, whilst you are there you are required to wear the clothing that will be provided to you. Therefore you only need bring travelling clothes with you. We suggest that you bring underwear and just one change of clothes. Some addicts have recommended that long socks be packed to wear in the early mornings and evenings when mosquitoes are most active.
Some suggestions for what you should take with you – see Addicts Packing List.
We suggest that you bring a toilet bag containing only essentials for your personal hygiene including soap, towel, and toothpaste (and mouthwash to use after vomiting).
Whatever the time of year mosquitoes are an ever-present nuisance in Thailand. It is essential that you take some repellent (such as ‘Jungle Gel’) and bite cream (such as ‘Stingo’) available from BOOTS or any other pharmacist in the UK
The law in Thailand is very strict and the penalties for the possession of drugs are harsh. Your treatment commences immediately on your arrival. We can assure you that you will not need that fix. Remember that the treatment you will receive is radical; you will not suffer from the usual withdrawal symptoms to the same degree associated with other forms of treatment.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL CONSUMABLES SUCH AS TOOTHPASTE, MOUTHWASH etc MUST BE BRAND NEW, IN THE ORIGINAL PACKAGING WITH SEALS UNBROKEN!
In order to address the problem of dehydration caused by vomiting and the subsequent loss of sodium and potassium, it is recommended that you eat bananas and consume fresh fruit drinks, particularly tomato juice. (NB: Cottage cheese & bananas mixed has been found to relieve depression).
Please check with your medical advisor or local Health Centre.
Your treatment will be concentrated during the first five days of your stay at the Monastery; thereafter you will have a lot of free time during which you must remain at the Monastery. If you wish you are welcome to bring reading/writing materials with you. Please do not bring expensive consumer goods with you, as you will not be allowed to take them into the Treatment Compound. However, a cheap CD or Tape player is acceptable. You may also wish to consider a cheap or disposable camera to record your treatment.
Physical Exercise & Community Work
After the first ten days of treatment you will be expected to partake in the various community works around the monastery including general cleaning duties, sweeping, kitchen work etc. If you are an opiate user you are encouraged to partake in as much physical exercise as possible up to your pain threshold to encourage your body’s natural production of endorphins.
You are expected to comply with the rules of behaviour and respect the views and beliefs of others during your stay.
The Treatment at Thamkrabok
Following arrival at Thamkrabok Monastery the procedures are as follows:
1) All new arrivals are processed through the Reception Centre.
a) All valuables are taken for safekeeping.
b) All clothing is taken and stored, treatment clothing is issued.
2) All new arrivals are required to take their vows before a Buddha image. These vows are recited in Thai.
3) For the first five days you are restricted to one room. This room holds up to thirty addicts undergoing the primary herbal treatment.
4) Each addict is allocated sleeping area; a sleeping mat and blanket will be provided. (However, we suggest you take your own blanket and recommend a double sleeping bag liner or cotton sheet folded and sewn to form a liner).
5) During the treatment all male addicts are required to remain in this room and are expected to behave themselves. Should they become violent or aggressive they are likely to be restrained. During the stay in this room no outside contact is permitted. This area is off limits to visitors except the escort that has accompanied the addicts to the Thamkrabok Monastery. All addicts having made a commitment to complete the programme are required to do so regardless of how much they may object. If you promise to stay for 21 days then you are expected to remain at the Monastery for a minimum period of 21 days.
6) Treatment commences with the first issue of herbal medicine. This is taken in a group of new arrivals, generally in the early evening with the moral support of other addicts that have recently completed the treatment. The treatment induces projectile vomiting for five to ten minutes, which is used to purge the body of toxins.
7) The second to fifth herbal treatments are taken on consecutive days at 3pm each afternoon. The majority of addicts undergoing this phase of the treatment tend to sleep throughout most of the first five days.
8) Thai style meals are provided throughout your stay at Thamkrabok. However, you may experience a lack of appetite during the first five days. This is normal and not a cause for alarm, as your appetite will soon return.
9) Each day all addicts are taken for an herbal steam bath (sauna), this is an integral part of the treatment and is continued for a further seven to ten days after the completion of the herbal medicine treatment.
10) After the herbal medicine treatment you are then relocated into the compound. This is a larger area where you have more freedom to move around. Should you misbehave in the compound you are liable to be returned to the room.
11) All addicts are provided with vouchers to purchase food and drinks from the canteen inside the compound, where they remain until their discharge after having successfully completed the full treatment programme.
12) On their return home ex addicts are required to follow a sensible nutritious diet regime for a least two to three weeks to give their bodies an opportunity to adjust to the changes brought about by their treatment at Thamkrabok. This includes the following requirements:
a) Minimise taking caffeine in any form, tea, coffee and cola should be avoided.
b) Alcohol should not be taken in any form.
c) Avoid very cold or very hot drinks of any kind.
13) Conditions at Thamkrabok are primitive and despite the advice given to addicts prior to their arrival most are shocked at the living conditions encountered. It must be stressed that the Thamkrabok Treatment Centre was established to treat Thai nationals and the facilities provided are poor even by their standards. What would be considered acceptable conditions of personal hygiene are difficult to maintain and remain the personal responsibility of each individual addict.
14) In response to criticism of the conditions it must be stated that Thamkrabok is not a Holiday Camp or a Resort. It is the most successful Drug Detoxification Clinic in the world despite the poor conditions that exist. Nobody is admitted to Thamkrabok without their being advised of the prevailing conditions and having a need for the services that it provides.
Reinforcing Your Commitment
No treatment available for Drug Addiction can guarantee success; the programme provided at Thamkrabok ensures that on discharge from the Monastery the ex-addict is totally free of their addiction having been free of drug use for the term of their stay at Thamkrabok.
It goes without saying that if an ex-addict returns to his or her previous life without making any changes they are extremely vulnerable to return to drug dependence, particularly where their associates, friends or family members are still using drugs.
Therefore, preparations for the return of the ex-addict must be carefully planned and they must include the support of family and friends. A total change of environment for a period will always be a favoured reinforcement whilst the body and mind adjusts to it’s drug free state.
The inner strengths of each individual returning from Thamkrabok may vary dramatically but many realise that their lives have been on hold whilst they have been addicted, and go forward with no further external assistance.
Others may feel the need for continued assistance in the form of counselling either individually or in groups. If required this can be arranged on your return home through your medical practitioner or local drugs support groups.
The ‘Treatment’ at Wat Thamkrabok
TAKING THE MEDICINE AND VOMITING:
Luangpor Yai, the holy woman who was the great teacher in Thamkrabok, has developed the rather disgusting, but very effective potion you will have to take at least 5 days early in the morning. There are more than 100 ingredients in it. Only two persons know the recipe: the abbot and the pharmacist.
You will drink 2.5 – 3.5 cc and then half a bowl of water. Wait five minutes, then drink 3-4 bowls of water from the bucket. The water is mixed with herbal tea. Let it disperse inside your body for some time. Then put a finger into your throat and vomit. Take 3-4 ’rounds’, until the bucket is empty.
The more water you drink the more easy you will vomit. Try to avoid irritations in your throat due to stressful vomiting. Vomit in the most relaxed way you can. If you have difficulties, just think of getting rid of all the mental and emotional ‘junk’ you might have stored inside yourself for such a long time…
THE BLACK PILLS:
The herbal pills are another element of purification. They also produce a relaxing effect and make sleeping easier. However, we have observed that with Westerners they can produce the contrary. Westerners are often tense, and when they relax, the held back energy starts to flow quite intensely. So, observe yourself, and if you think that the pills prevent you from sleeping, talk with a monk. Lack of sleep is also a common symptom of drug-withdrawal.
Notice: During the detox no other kind of medicine is allowed. It would disturb the procedure of detoxification.
THE HERBAL TEA AND THE STEAM BATH:
The tea you get before the steam bath has a purifying effect and can be taken all day long. Sweetened with honey, it is even enjoyable. Like the vomiting, the steam bath is a classical element of physical purification. Four kinds of herbs are added to the steam; they are exceptionally good for the skin, the lungs and the eyes.
There is a meditation in the compound once a day in the late afternoon. Foreigners are welcome. Meditation and spirituality don’t depend on any specific religion or belief-system.
The chanting of the monks and nuns takes place every evening at 6.30 p.m. You are cordially welcome. A monk will lead you there. Sit down, feel comfortable and relax body, mind and feelings.
Work is important here. It trains the focus, the will and the endurance. It keeps your energy flowing and prevents boredom. It makes you feel satisfied and helps you sleep well.
In case of illness or accident, natural medicine is available in the monastery.
A medical doctor visits Thamkrabok every two weeks. There are hospitals in Saraburi,Lopburi and Phraputthabat. To get to the nearest one takes five minutes by car.
Notice: Thamkrabok is not a Malaria area.
In tropical countries irritations and infections spread rapidly. Make the soap your close friend!
Disinfect the slightest scratch or open mosquito-bite!
The treatment as well as the accommodation is free, only the food has to be paid. As the monastery lives on alms, donations (Dana) are welcome. They may be put in one of the donation-boxes or be given directly to the abbot.
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Related Page: Reasons to go to Wat Thamkrabok
Related Page: Detoxification at Wat Thamkrabok
Related Page: The Way of the Vow: Sajja
>>> Alternative view of Sajja : Truth of Addiction & Commitment to Recovery
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Related Page: Suggested Packing List for Wat Thamkrabok
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Related Page: After Detox – New Life Foundation
Related Page: Wat Thamkrabok Tudong
The official Monastery website is at: Wat-Thamkrabok.org