Located in the mountains approximately one hundred and twenty kilometres North of Bangkok, Wat Thamkrabok has been offering detoxification and rehabilitation to those addicted to harmful substances since 1959. Over this period the Abbot and his monks have saved thousands of their countrymen from the long-term effects of drug addiction. The treatment is provided to Thai addicts for minimal payment or reward as part of the goodwill of the Temple in supporting its people.
The occasional European familiar with local custom was also offered the treatment and it was found that the same very high success rate was achieved with non-Asian addicts.
In 1990 The Thamkrabok Foundation of Western Australia began to organise groups of addicts from Europe and Australia and to publicise the work of Wat Thamkrabok.
The costs of providing these treatments to overseas addicts are beyond the resources of the Temple and are offset by a mandatory donation towards the cost of accommodation and a voluntary donation towards the cost of treatment.
These donations are used to extend the service offered within the Temple and are included in the fees paid.
In a country renowned for harsh treatment of drug dealers, the proposal to bring overseas addicts for detoxification required the support of the Thai Royal Family who are major supporters of the programme provided by Wat Thamkrabok.
At the end of 1997 over 300 Australian addicts had travelled to Thamkrabok and undergone this radical but very effective course of detoxification. Of these, about 35 per cent have returned to their previous habits within one year, but the majority (about 65 per cent) had remained free of their former addiction.
The Abbot and Monks operating the programme have proven that no addict is beyond redemption. Every addict leaving Thamkrabok after taking this radical course has been detoxified with none of the normal side effects. They stress that this course is a chance at a drug-free future but the long-term result lies in the will of the addict. They are provided with the opportunity of a second start at life.
Nobody is claiming to have a miracle cure for the problem of drug and alcohol addiction. If the addict has no desire to beat his or her addiction they are not welcome at Thamkrabok.
Addicts travelling to Thamkrabok are required to comply with the rules of the Monastery. Should they fail to do so they are liable to be transported directly to the airport under escort and returned to their point of departure.