Extract from Han M.Stiekema, M.D. "FLOW SYSTEM THERAPY", ISBN 90-70525-32-2. 1999 PIP Press, Amsterdam (http://www.vitalworld.org/fst-0.htm)
Reproduced with the kind permission of the author
10.5 Dying to the Old
© Han M.Stiekema, M.D. (1999)
Many years ago I got acquainted to the work of the Buddhist abbot Pra Jamroon Panjan of Tamkrabok monastery near Bangkok in Thailand. For many years he and his monks are successfully managing a drug rehabilitation center for (heroine) addicts. As methadon-distribution in Thailand is scoring not even a 1% success, his approach is said to cure around 60%. When I saw him at work for the first time my eyes and my heart were opened. I also did “detox” programs for years. However, his work was much more compassionate, brave and also more professional. It is the reason why I am very grateful for his inspiration and example. What is the secret of his approach? In the first place his treatment takes 10 days. The addicts can only participate once. Hence, it is their only and last chance. In the intake the motivation of the candidate is tested. If insufficient, then someone is refused participation. You have to sign for liability. This might have far-reaching consequences, given the (sporadic!) deaths during the cure. All participants then vow to the Buddha to refrain from drugs the rest of one’s life. Finally the old clothes are replaced by new ones.
The therapy distinguishes itself by a loving but (very) strict approach. The clients have to follow a stringent daily schedule, in which they are constantly encouraged and supported though. This is very much necessary, because the first five days of the cure are a hell. All participants everyday receive a bitter drink, which causes fierce and repeated vomiting. They additionally receive laxatives and a special diet, while regularly visiting the sauna. In short time a breakthrough in the physical addiction is achieved. The withdrawal symptoms are horrible. Not surprisingly most clients are close to complete exhaustion. It occurs that some are passing out. The idea behind it is, that having been once in this hell will be enough to never having a relapse anymore. After five days there is the turning point: the body is free from drugs. “Dying” has turned into “being reborn”. However, the psychological addiction appears to be actually still present. Many supportive talks are needed. But that is not enough. A beginning should be made with social rehabilitation, to facilitate the return into society. Thus skills and crafts are taught. A former junkie is invited - also for especially invited groups of students of the region - to act out his former miserable story of drug-addiction. The very convincing role-play is hoped to have a deep preventive effect. Subsequently the family of the now ex-addicts are invited to the monastery, to talk to their son or husband. The ex-junkie has to convince them of the fact, that his addiction really belongs to the past. Next day there is a celebration. A pop-band is playing dance music. The return home also belongs to the program: a monk accompanies the client. Note: Not only with regard to drug-addiction, but also with regard to our (collective) self-addiction8 (which is worse), the example of Pra Jamroon and the monastery Tamkrabok could serve as an example. Not only the principle: “dying to the old” is extremely inspiring, but also various other elements of his cure could be useful to us.
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