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October 2021

Subst Use Misuse. 1997 Mar; 32(4): 435-59.

Wat Thamkrabok: a Buddhist drug rehabilitation program in Thailand.

Barrett ME.

Department of Social Work and Psychology, National University of Singapore, Republic of Singapore. [email protected]

Since 1959 Wat Thamkrabok, a Buddhist monastery in Thailand, has been conducting a drug addiction rehabilitation program which claims a 70% success rate. The program is known for its use of unconventional methods, such as inducing vomiting to relieve "cravings" for drugs, herbal saunas, strict discipline, an emphasis on Buddhism, and a sacred vow to never again use drugs. This is a descriptive study based on observations and interviews (mostly with foreigners) made at the monastery. While it was not possible to evaluate claims of success, there were several interesting aspects of the program which emerged. Vomiting was reported to be effective in reducing "craving," and participants seemed to have a positive regard for the program, but there were some serious concerns raised about health risks and the coercive nature of the program.

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