Detox program

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Mar 10, 2018, 12:30:00 AM3/10/18
to Friends of Thamkrabok Monastery
i would like to stay at Thamkrabok monastery to start the program, i do i get in?
i just contact them, show up there?

Vince Cullen

Mar 10, 2018, 7:48:02 AM3/10/18
to Friends of Thamkrabok Monastery

Wat Thamkrabok : Journey of the Hero

Thank you for your email.  This is an automated reply from Vince Cullen (currently working and teaching in Europe).

My name is Vince Cullen.  I live in Ireland but I have been associated with Wat Thamkrabok in Thailand since 1998.  

Your inquiry should now be directed to the Thai nun - Mae Shee Rambhai - who will answer your question, if she hasn't already done so, but just in case here is some information that you may find helpful.  If there are any questions about visiting Thamkrabok that you think I might be able to answer, please feel free to call me at any reasonable time.

The Hero's Journey

The treatment at Thamkrabok has been likened to the archetypal 'Journey of the Hero' as described by Joseph Campbell; This 'Journey' has three steps -

   1. A Separation from home and family, and all that is familiar.

   2. A (sometimes) frightening, difficult, but exhilarating journey, helped along by unexpected hospitality from strangers and help from mystical allies. So you face your vulnerability and break out of many youthful fears and neuroses.

   3. Finally, a return home: the traveller apparently the same person, but forever changed.

Some useful downloads:

Some useful links:

Success Rates

A lot has been written in newspapers and magazines saying that the THAMKRABOK MONASTERY claims 65 per cent success rate, or 70 per cent, or even 95 percent!  Wat Thamkrabok does not claim any such "success rates".

The Thamkrabok Monastery does not offer miracle cures. You should be extremely cautious of any individuals or organisations that make such claims about the monastery.   If you are in any doubt then please contact the monastery directly - for details see

Personally, I would say that the treatment at Thamkrabok is best likened to cold-turkey in a hot-climate but what I can also say, without any doubt, is that ex-addicts who keep their Sajja - with diligence, honesty and integrity - will remain 100 per cent drug free.  Not just an intoxicant-free life but a happy intoxicant-free life.

Taking Sajja Beyond Thamkrabok

In my opinion and experience, the physical detox provided by Thamkrabok Monastery in Thailand does actually work but this is only the first baby-step on the very long road to recovery.  The physical detox at Thamkrabok on it’s own works for a number of people who are already determined to change their life… but for many it simply does not... it is not enough.

The Abbot of Thamkrabok will tell you that the Herbal Detox is only 5% of getting well; the other 95% is Sajja.  

There is a path leading to the unbinding from addiction and the fading away of cravings.  I have set out some ideas of what might be helpful to secure a comfortable, long-lasting and happy recovery at which goes beyond the physical detox at Wat Thamkrabok.  

WARNING: Thailand can be a very dangerous place for addicts of any kind.  It is generally accepted that when Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Boyfriends, Girlfriends, or anyone other than the addict make arrangements for their treatment at Thamkrabok then there is a far greater risk of early departure from treatment and/or subsequent relapse; including the obvious chance of overdose and death.  As the late Abbot Luang Por Charoen would frequently say to addicts "Nobody can do it for you... you must do it for yourself".

Having said all of that, the following information about Wat Thamkrabok [and New Life Foundation] may be useful to you (or your loved-one).


You should not go to Thamkrabok until you are ABSOLUTELY certain that you truly wish to be free from your addictions and that you are 100 per cent committed to being drug and alcohol free.

IMPORTANT NOTE for anyone suffering from ALCOHOL DEPENDENCY : It is a requirement of the Thamkrabok monastery that alcoholics stop drinking, ideally under medical supervision, before travelling to Thailand for treatment.

Before you decide to travel to Thailand you must ask yourself 3 questions: 

  1. Do I want to travel to Thamkrabok voluntarily, completely of my own choice?
  2. Do I really want to stop using drugs and alcohol?
  3. Will I stay in treatment for at least the minimum 8-days/7-nights ? (the recommended stay is 28-days).
If you cannot honestly say ”YES” without hesitation to all three questions, then it is better that you wait until you are serious about getting well.  As one monk famously said “We want only warriors… victims need not apply”.

If you decide to go ahead with the journey to Thamkrabok to take a lifetime Sajja (vow) for drugs and alcohol, this is will be a very 'black or white' decision.

On the dark side - if you break your Sajja (vow) bad things will continue to happen in your life.  The longer you use, the more negative consequences of your addiction will manifest.  You will continue to harm your self and those around you that you love. Of course, it may be possible to stabilise your continued use of drugs, if this is the way you want to live, but you will never be truly happy or free of craving.  By indulging in drugs and/or alcohol we invariably hurt those whom we love. We cause them harm in many ways including emotionally, financially and sometimes physically. If we continue on our downward spiral into our addictions, our journey to our own personal hell, the realm of the 'Hungry Ghosts', we are not only damaging those around us, we are putting our very existence, our very own life, at increasing risk.

On the bright side - if you keep your Sajja (vow), good things will start to happen in your life and you will be better prepared to deal with any bad things.  If you adopt the Five Precepts (see and/or the 12-Steps (NA or AA), then you can further reduce the stress and suffering of your past, present and future.  The longer you keep your Sajja, the better your life will become.  There is life without drugs and alcohol, and it can be a very good life.

If you look after your Sajja Vow, your Sajja Vow will look after you!

========== CUT THIS OUT & TAKE WITH YOU ===========

It is my experience that after 5 or 6 days of treatment at Thamkrabok, you or more correctly the addict-within-you, may say "I'm cured… It's a miracle… I'm checking-out to spend a couple of weeks on the beach". This is the first test of your Sajja and your commitment to a new life.  You should stay at Thamkrabok for the full duration.  Sit with your loneliness, make friends with your boredom and face your demons.

The most common regret that I hear - time after time - from individuals after treatment is "I wish I had stayed at Wat Thamkrabok for longer!"


When you are at Thamkrabok make sure that someone, preferably one of the monks, gives meditation lessons as often as possible; ideally every day.  If not, then ask Mae Shee Kanticha - (the English nun) - if she can do anything for you.

I would also recommend that you attend the monk's chanting every night.  This is not only a lovely thing to do, it also gets you out of 'The Hey' (treatment centre) and breaks up your evening.

Don't forget that before, during or after your stay in Thailand you can contact the FOTM online support group at: where you can get no-holds-barred answers to questions or just share your experiences... but that's up to you.

As ex-addict and ex-monk Peter says on the Friends-of-Thamkrabok online forum: "... if you want it, keep asking, keep smiling, stop complaining, and above all...Sweep the goddamn leaves like everyone else!"

No one would call Thamkrabok a 'Holiday Camp' but neither should you think of it as a prison.  Whenever I'm at Thamkrabok – that's at least once every year – I take the opportunity to renew my Sajja, take the medicine a few times, enjoy the hot herbal steam baths and attend 'chanting' every night.  I like to think of Thamkrabok as the most exclusive health club in the world; perfect for mind, body and spirit.

The answers to some common questions are below but you will also find a lot of helpful information and advice - including a suggested packing list - on the website.

(1) Peer Support : Join the FOTM support group to connect with ex-addicts who have already made the journey. Also, you may get some help and support from your local Buddhist centers.

(2) VISA : You should contact her nearest Thai Consulate about VISA requirements depending upon how long you intend to stay in Thailand. You will need your own passport with at least 6-months before expiry but it might be better to just get a new passport that won't run out while you are away.

(3) Vaccinations : You should ask your local health center or search the internet for travel vaccination information (this one is for British travellers ).  Remember, Heb-B vaccination would probably be worth considering.

(4) Tudong Closure : Wat Thamkrabok closes every year from March 25th to May 1st so you can't get treatment during those dates.  The last day to check-in for a 10-day detox is March 14th.

(5) Admittance : Outside of the annual Tudong Closure, there is no waiting list; just let the monastery know that you are interested in treatment by emailing

(6) Costs : Treatment at Wat Thamkrabok is FREE but you must buy your own food and drink. 

(7) Food & Drink : This is how the money works at Wat Thamkrabok:

For each day of treatment you will deposit 200thb (Thai Baht) in cash when you check-in.  Therefore - for example - 28 days x 200thb = 5600thb (about US$190).

Each day the monastery will give you back 200thb of your money in coupons - "Thamkrabok Money" - so that you can buy your meals, drinks etc.  If you do not use all of the coupons you can save them up and change them back into cash at the end of your stay.

(8) Donations : After Sajja, the next step on the Buddhist path of recovery is generosity (Dana).  Please consider making a donation (before, during or after your visit) so that Wat Thamkrabok can continue to offer this unique treatment.  You can make a donation by putting money in the 'donation box' in the Admissions Office or by bank transfer at any time.

(9) Valuables : While in treatment your passport, money, cellphone and other valuables will be kept in the office.

(10) How to get to Wat Thamkrabok Monastery:-

Taxi from Suvarnabhumi International Airport:

A Public Taxi from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport (Platform of Passenger Terminal on the 1st Floor, Gates 4 and 7) to Thamkrabok which costs about 1500 Baht.

  • Go to the Public Taxi Desk on Level 1 (Ground Floor)
  • Show the attached TAXI-DIRECTIONS (in Thai and English)
  • Ask "How much" to Thamkrabok?
  • The cost should be about 1,500 Thai Baht  which you pay to the driver when you arrive at your destination.
  • You might be asked to pay 50 Baht airport surcharge and 70 Thai Baht Express Way fees, so have some small change handy.

(11) After Treatment :

New Life Foundation - A Short Film (15-minute video

Sometimes it is possible to stay at Wat Thamkrabok after treatment to ordain as a monk or nun for a while; but I would recommend travelling to Chiang Rai to the New Life Foundation international recovery community. See where you can stay for up to 6-months.  NLF were asking for 600thb (US$20) per day to cover food etc. but that may not be the case any more.  You should contact them directly in advance to book a place.  Once you feel fit and well, you may then want to visit Thamkrabok again before you travel home.

(12) Consider joining a recovery group or support group of your choice, or start your own! For example, join a Fifth Precept or Refuge Recovery group to name only two options.  You might also consider attending a dedicated recovery retreat such as those offered by Hungry Ghost Wholehearted Recovery Retreats.

(13) Travel Insurance : You are urged to ensure that you have appropriate and adequate insure for the duration of your trip.

And remember, as one Thamkrabok monk said

"Don't forget one thing: the hero is not made in those proud hours after victory but in the long, desperate and hellish hours as he passes through darkness without giving up!"

If you look after your Sajja Vow and your Sajja Vow will look after you... don't ever give up.

So, chok-dee (Thai = Good Luck) to you for a successful detox and a very long, very happy recovery.


I'm always sad to hear of the pain, suffering and stress that individuals and families are obviously experiencing; it must be very difficult for you.  Here are a couple of verses on Equanimity (a quality in Buddhism that is developed through practice) that I hope may bring you some peace and ease:

Equanimity (1)

Peace requires us to surrender

our illusions of control.

We can love and care for others

but we cannot possess

our children, lovers, family, or friends.

We can assist them, pray for them, and wish

them well,

yet in the end

their happiness and suffering

depend on their thoughts and actions,

not on our wishes.


Source: “The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace” : Jack Kornfield (p162)
Bantam Books, New York © 2002

Equanimity (2)

This life is but a play of joy and sorrow;

may we remain undisturbed by life's rise and fall.

I care deeply about you,

but you are the owner of your actions and their fruit,

and sadly I cannot keep you from distress.


Source: From an 18th century Srilankan text translated by © John Peacocke

So perhaps by looking after yourself you will be a good example... No one can do it for you... you must do it for yourself!

Be well and kind regards.

With Metta,

(Ireland cellphone)   +353 (0) 85 130 4184
(Thailand cellphone)  +66 (0) 94  587 0017

Skype Number
    +44 (0) 208 144 8548
(Skype ID)                'vince.cullen'

As water falls from a lotus leaf
so sorrow drops from those
who are free of toxic craving.
The Buddha (DHAMMAPADA verse #336)

Advice for Contacting Vince

I have given up full-time employment to devote more time to the study and practice of Buddha Dhamma and to promote wholehearted recovery in a Buddhist context through the Fifth Precept Sangha and Hungry Ghost Recovery Retreats .

In effect this means that I attend many silent meditation retreats and study retreats, as well as teaching recovery retreats each year.

The important words here are 'retreat' and 'silent'.

I can be contacted by telephone, email or Skype at any time but I cannot always answer or reply immediately. Your understanding and patience is appreciated. Thank you!

Be well and kind regards.

With Metta,


》》Sent from my cellphone 《《

(Ireland cellphone)   +353 (0) 85 130 4184
(Thailand cellphone)  +66 (0) 94  587 0017
(Skype Number)         +44 (0) 208 144 8548
(Skype ID)                'vince.cullen'

As water falls from a lotus leaf
so sorrow drops from those
who are free of toxic craving.
The Buddha (DHAMMAPADA verse #336)

Advice for Contacting Vince

I gave up full-time employment in 2014 to devote more time to the study and practice of Buddha Dhamma and to promote wholehearted recovery in a Buddhist context through the Fifth Precept Sangha and Hungry Ghost Retreats organisations ; and more recently through Nalagiri-Mindfulness retreats in Ireland.

In effect this means that I attend many silent meditation retreats and study retreats, as well as teaching Mindfulness retreats worldwide each year.

The important words here are 'retreat' and 'silent'.

I can be contacted by telephone, email or Skype at any time but I cannot always answer or reply immediately. Your understanding and patience is appreciated. Thank you!

The OFFICIAL Thamkrabok Monastery website is
INDEPENDENT information can be found at
BUDDHIST RECOVERY information can be found at
HUNGRY GHOST RETREAT information can be found at
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