Thai Therapy Part 1: A Cure for Addiction

Hey folks. Seven here. For this Frowback Friday, I submit one of a series of articles previously published on BKKNites and Sweet3Mango. The original description is included below:

“I’m trying out a new series focusing on how relocating to Thailand can be the cure for/solution to common problems in the West, calling it “Thai Therapy,” though in truth not much of what’s covered here will be therapeutic, per se. Some will be easier than others, for example it won’t be hard to sell Thailand as an escape from high taxes and/or an oppressive government (at least for foreigners). More on that topic later. This first one isn’t so cut-and-dried. It’s the idea that a person who suffers from addiction could come here and find relief. In all honesty, a person could just as easily come here and find that it exacerbates the addiction, or that one addiction simply gets replaced by another. And someone who has no addictions could easily come here and gain one (or more). But I want to try to make the case that, under the right circumstances, certain addictions can be cured through living here.

The crucial factor, of course, is location. If you’re a cocaine addict and you move to Bangkok, you’re not going to find respite. It’s too easy to acquire. It’s the same with weed, ecstasy, and every other modern drug. Bankgok is a party town. However, the prospect of a decade in a Thai prison might be an effective deterrent. If you’re a drunk, you’re screwed. Liver pickling is a favorite pastime in the Land of Smiles. But there is a fail-safe solution that would work for nearly all vices, and that is moving to a remote town, or better yet an island.

My first two years in Thailand were spent in a remote town in the jungles of Krabi. The closest shop where I could buy beer was a 30 minute walk from my house. I was one of only 6 farang in the whole town, and I didn’t speak Thai. So I was basically trapped at home 5 days a week, with no motorbike, no TV, no air-con, and just a slow internet connection to keep me company. Life became broken down into intervals. From wakeup to midday, then lunch, then a dog day afternoon, then off to teach evening classes, then dinner, then chatting idly, beer in hand, until bedtime. Little things took on exquisite vibrancy. The taste of food. A hand-rolled cigarette. Stove-popped popcorn. Cold water. Wild fruit trees. A lightning storm. Stuff you’d never think twice about if you were living a regular life in a regular place. I think it would be possible for an addict, forced into that kind of environment, where food and booze were rationed and there was no access to drugs, where the only possible addiction might be tobacco, to break free of any other vice.

Once the habit is kicked, though, a person would likely have to stick around, since heading back to the land of the indulgent would just set them right back on the old track. So the move must be permanent. In giving up the addictive substance, one would also have to give up Western life for a new existence in the backwaters of Thailand. It’s a small price to pay to be free of ones demons.

Or maybe I’m just kidding myself. But ever since moving here I’ve had an idea for a business in the back of my mind: an addiction center on Koh Lanta or Koh Khood, where the patients can’t escape—like Papillon’s Devil’s Island—and there is nothing addictive within reach, not even so much as a chocolate bar, and the only available substances are fruit, veg, rice, and water. In such an environment, an addict would have no choice but to kick. That’s just science.



Imagine detoxing in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, eating fresh, natural food, drinking clean water, sweating out the impurities, then recovering in same said paradise, swimming in the ocean, lounging on the beach, lolling under palm trees without a care in the world. What rich celebrity wouldn’t pay through the nose for that? Or course, this would work just as well for food addicts. More on that in a later post. But the concept is essentially the same. It’s why Hollywood types go to rehab in the desert. They can be sequestered in an isolated place while also being surrounded by beauty. Had L Ron Hubbard known about Koh Chang, he might’ve become an addiction treatment guru instead of founding a fake religion. I’m telling you, this is a great idea. Some enterprising person with capital should do it, and pay me a fee.

In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @BangkokSeven or browse the photo archive on my Facebook. ”

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