In my new book ‘Dead Drunk’ I discuss how a Thai temple called Wat Thamkrabok helped me beat my addiction to alcohol. It is now almost four years since I left the temple and it really does feel like my addiction has been completely defeated. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but all I can say is that alcohol does not seem attractive to me at all these days. I have experienced some wonderful highs in recovery; highs that would have once offered plenty of reason for alcohol-fueled celebrations. I have also needed to deal with lows that previously would have had me running to the bottle. Despite all that has happened though, good and bad, I have not used alcohol and I’ve not even wanted to drink.
Considering the fact that my life is so good, it is tempting for me to want to recommend that every addict hops on a plane to get the magical cure in Thailand. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that – I wish it did. When I first arrived at Wat Thamkrabok one of the head monks explained to me that the temple could not cure my addiction. I felt very let down until he described what they could offer me. The temple could provide an environment where recovery could happen and they could give me the tools to live life in recovery. It could work if I was completely ready to leave addiction behind forever; without this willingness Wat Thamkrabok could do absolutely nothing for me.
I personally believe that the tools offered at Wat Thamkrabok work; in fact I’m living proof that they do. I am 100% certain that if people use the tools, and don’t drink or use drugs again, their life will get better; in fact life in recovery is likely to be better than anything they could have even imagined. This can only happen though if the person is fully ready. You can only go through the Wat Thamkrabok treatment program once and if people choose the wrong time to go there it is a missed opportunity. The tools are useless to addicts if they are not ready to use them.
Wat Thamkrabok can help people go through the withdrawal stages when coming off alcohol or drugs – so can plenty of other places. The system they use is unique and many of us feel it was the easiest withdrawals we ever went through. That is not what the temple is really all about though; the real gift that the temple offers is the tools to live a satisfying life. If life is satisfying the need for addiction falls away.
I see the temple as a special place that people can find when they are ready. It is not for everyone and other addicts will find their own path; if the student is ready, the teacher will appear – I really believe that. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to escape addiction; you just have to summon the willingness to change.
Paul Garrigan, Author of 'Dead Drunk'