7 February 2005
‘Buddhism, at the moment, is quite fashionable and I daresay many of those who work in the field would be quite receptive to this form of detox. However, I have found a high level of discrimination by workers towards programmes (such as 12 step) that include spirituality as an essential element of overcoming addiction.’
Responses to to ‘Extreme Measures’ (DDN 24 January 2005)
I think this method of detox is totally viable, but I agree with Dr Ford that the follow up can be the downfall – much the same as detox in this country. Wherever a person goes for detox, whatever wonderful surroundings they find themselves in, they still have to return to the same old shit.
An element of the Thamkrabok detox which may differ from rehabs in this country (I’m not sure) is the spiritual side; it sounds like participants have the option of engaging their spirituality to an extent that they choose. I recently attended a conference including a speaker who discussed ‘substance misuse and spirituality’, and I felt that he addressed a lot of vital issues that are ignored within the substance misuse field. Unfortunately, speaking with one or two other workers at the conference, this section was quite ill received.
Buddhism, at the moment, is quite fashionable and I daresay many of those who work in the field would be quite receptive to this form of detox. However, I have found a high level of discrimination by workers towards programmes (such as 12 step) that include spirituality as an essential element of overcoming addiction. Likewise many Christian organisations do a huge amount of work with people dealing with addiction and these are often dismissed by workers because they are Christian. I am not a Christian, and I am not religious, however I think that the loss of personal, and possibly communal, spirituality has had a huge impact on many social problems including substance misuse. In my experience clients of addiction services are far more open to exploring their spiritual side and gaining strength from this than workers are – and services should be geared to clients’ beliefs and wishes, not workers’.
Bernice Shepherd, Substance misuse worker at Cardiff YOT
7 February 2005
I was interested to read the article on the detox programme offered at Thamkrabok Monastery.
I am currently working towards UKCP registration in Core Process psychotherapy (a Buddhist-oriented approach that combines western developmental theory with Buddhist psychology). I work with clients in private practice as well as offering a voluntary service at Clouds Families Plus in Salisbury. I have personal experience of how alcoholism can dominate family life and lead to a host of problems including transgeneration addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, long-term mental illness and at worst, suicide.
Buddhism as a practical way of life centres on relieving suffering, one of the causes of which is the attachment to craving – or addiction. The way out involves a commitment to self-enquiry through regular traditional meditation and awareness practices, and the cultivation of compassion towards oneself in mind and body – a holistic approach. It’s possible to benefit from a Buddhist way of living without accepting it as a religion, which explains its growing popularity in the west.
If the detox programme at Thamkrabok could be linked up with follow-up therapeutic support to help cultivate awareness and compassion, craving and attachment may not disappear, but there is the potential for recovery and health in the longterm.
The recovery cycle, when accessed, can be stronger ultimately than the cycle of abuse. So I’d like to send my thanks and appreciation to the monks at Thamkrabok and the East-West Detox workers – I wish you well with the ongoing work.
Florence Hamilton, by email
The original article can be seen at http://www.drinkanddrugs.net/features/feb0705/letters.pdf
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