Welcome to the East West Support Network
We are run entirely by volunteers in recovery. This is where we meet to help each other through good and bad times and provide information and support to anybody contemplating treatment and recovery.
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Meet our coordinators:
I spent years on heroin, crack and prescription drugs including methadone. Reaching my rock bottom I desperately sought a way out. Thamkrabok seemed to be the only place where I would finally be able to get rid of all the drugs, without substituting something else. I was finally able to sort my life out and fight for what I had lost so long ago. Thamkrabok helped me to find inner peace and face all my demons without being forced to engage with people in the UK who did not have a clue, so many times, about where I was really coming from. Everybody in the Thamkrabok treatment centre had been where I had been, they understood. After a few months of being clean and strong I went back to the Monastery and spent over four years as a support worker helping Westerners and Thai women. Now over five years later of still being clean, I am a proud mother and studying for a degree in Criminology and Psychology. I continue to work along side Thamkrabok and East West Detox giving support and advice.
See article Spirit and Destiny
I first met Mike Sarson over 15 years ago as a client of his when he worked as a Counsellor for the Berkshire NHS Community Drug & Alcohol Team and I was stuck on a methadone script. Some years later he told me about an opportunity to partake in a treatment programme at the Thamkrabok Monastery in Thailand, which was to be filmed by the BBC as a documentary. Following further discussions with Mike, I felt drawn to the idea and believed it was a way to get off drugs and medication once and for all and get my life back. I completed the treatment programme in August 2002 and my experience was captured on the BBC documentary series Kill or Cure ‘Constant Cravings’, which was shown on BBC 2 in June 2003. Since then I have started a new life in Cornwall, married and now a father to 2 wonderful children. I am also in my final year at University, completing a degree in Sport Science Management and continue to remain free of my addiction.
The first couple of times that I tried giving up heroin I found myself on medication going round in circles stuck on methadone and subutex. I realised there was a lack of choice with treatments until I found East-West Detox and spoke to Mike Sarson. This was something that I believed in and knew the treatment would help my mind, body & spirit. I was lucky to get funded by Reading, Berkshire NHS PCT and DAAT. Going to Thamkrabok Monastery was an eye opener and the greatest achievement in my life. I would recommend it to all users above any treatment in the UK, which are just limited to dealing with symptoms. You need to deal with the demons within rather than supressing them with medications. Watch Sarah’s story here.
I first met Mike Sarson back in 2001 at the Foundation, CRI in Reading, where he held a weekly drop in session for the East West Detox charity he setup. During that time I had a severe amphetamine and crack cocaine problem and started to share my problems with Mike. Over time I built up a trusting relationship with him and a belief in the treatment programme that he was able to offer at the Thamkrabok Monastery in Thailand.
I applied for funding which took some time but fortunately granted at a later date by West Berks. NHS, DAAT team. In 2005 I went to Thamkrabok treatment centre with Mike and returned later as part of my rehabilitation in 2006, when I decided to be ordained as a monk. The treatment has enabled me to now live a drug free life back in the UK and I believe this was the best opportunity I ever had. Since my return I attended an Alpha course and was later baptized and have since been an active member of the Glendale Church, Newbury. I recommend this choice and method of treatment to any one who is serious about recovering from dependency on any substance, no matter what it is.
Nick has now completed five trips to Thamkrabok as a buddy to patients from the UK. He has been in recovery himself for over 18 years and is interested in the similarities between the Buddhist teaching at Thamkrabok and 12 Step spirituality. For his day job Nick works with homeless people with mental health problems for a voluntary sector organisation in Reading and is also an experienced practice teacher for social work students. In his spare time Nick enjoys growing fruit and vegetables on his allotment with his wife Tracey, playing guitar at his church and being a member of a Christian Meditation group. He believes, like the monks of Thamkrabok, that meditation is the key to recovery.
Mae Shee Kantisha
I was a heroin addict for 15 years. Western detox treatment did not work for me so I came to Thailand to do the herbal vomiting detox and Sajja (vow) at ‘Thamkrabok Monastery’. It was not an easy option, but to stop taking drugs forever isn’t. I have now been clean for over 6 years. I decided to become a Buddhist Nun and now work in the treatment centre supporting other westerners through the programme. I am also helping with the East West Detox evidence based research project to enable more British people to be funded and partake in the treatment programme at Thamkrabok Monastery.
I visited Thamkrabok in 2004 with Nick and Mike Sarson, supporting a group from the UK and Ireland.(You know who you are!) The atmosphere at the Monastery was relaxing and challenging at the same time, providing a chance to reflect. I have been finding time for meditation ever since. I support East West Detox in various behind the scenes ways, most recently helping with the interactive support web site and have since returned to the Monastery to support others through the treatment programme.
I hope you enjoy meeting the other members and, you never know, some small detail from your experience might just be the thing to encourage someone else.
In February 2004 I went to the Thamkrabok Monastery to detox from a four year drug addiction. In the UK like many other addicts I was prescribed methadone to help address my large drug dependence which although stabilised me initially and regulated my drug intake in time created its own problem, as in its self methadone is an addictive drug and a substitute that soon becomes the main contributor to your dependence and problem.
After many failed attempts to detox Thamkrabok offered the all round solution to my desperate and unhappy lifestyle. It taught me that rehabilitation is not just physical but psychological and spiritual to, and in order to heal yourself you need to attend to every aspect of the mind, body and soul! The success rate proves this to be true and that you cannot just solve a problem by covering up or eliminating the enemy. i.e. you can’t cure a heroin addiction by covering up with methadone and you can’t stop drug dependence by banning drugs. I wish anyone who is going to the monastery the best of luck, courage and strength and welcome those who have been, to a fresh start and contented, happy lifestyle. I offer my support to all!
Thamkrabok Monastery is an intriguing alternative to western treatment. The beautiful mountain setting, accompanied with the wisdom and serenity of the monks, provide a spiritually rich setting, far away from negative attachments back home.
One evening in 2003, I watched Kill or Cure: Constant Craving a BBC documentary about Thamkrabok, and was very inspired by the natural and holistic approach used in rehabilitation.Especially striking for me, was the aspect that encourages people to tap into and utilize their own inner resources.
As someone who has meditated for some years and feels it has been of great benefit, the inclusion of this as one of the aids to recovery was very exciting to see.So much so, that later that year, while I was travelling in Thailand I visited Thamkrabok and met Mike Sarson and some guests from England. I stayed for 3-4 days and was amazed at the unique environment, and even more inspired by the people I met there.
In a nutshell, I feel Thamkrabok offers an approach and environment to help bring about a profoundly beneficial change within.