Welcome to Hope Rehab’s Alcohol Addiction program in Thailand. Many of our clients who attend Hope’s program come due to their alcohol or drinking issues. The clients come from all over the world and from all age groups. Hope offers a safe and comfortable environment to address this issue and overcome the challenges associated.
Some clients require a basic alcohol detox and some just a few days sleep aide to help them settle in. We work closely with our local private hospital who prescribes the medications needed for a one week detox.
On this page, you will find a lot of detailed information about Alcohol addiction that is designed to help you understand the challenges associated and the solution that we offer at Hope Rehab. You will find a lot of information about our program on the websites but are some basics…
Mindfulness meditation program: You will learn and practice mindfulness is a beautiful environment at Hope, both in the morning at evenings. This will help you manage and regulate cravings, mood and emotions.
Fitness program: Hope has a comprehensive fitness program starting with low impact, yoga Pilates etc. moving on the high energy activities such as aerobics, Thai boxing and bike riding.
CBT: Our group program and counselling gives you the opportunity to explore and investigate therapeutic issues that may have caused the alcohol problem and find the solutions necessary to overcome them.
Recovery program: This part of the program you will take away with you to help you manage your new life without drinking alcohol anymore. Most find it necessary to continue recovery activities after Rehab in order to maintain sobriety.
Alcohol Addiction or alcohol-use-disorder as it is now officially referred to by doctors can sneak up on you slowly, or it can develop progressively in response to difficult life events. This page explains how alcohol addiction can creep up on us. The switch from moderate drinking to problem drinking occurs so gradually that most of us don’t even notice. By the time the reality of our situation becomes undeniable, we are usually already well within the clutches of addiction.
People who have never tried alcohol can be baffled as to how we could fall into this trap. They don’t understand how wonderful this drug can make us feel in the beginning. Drinking can allow us to escape our worries, and it can boost our confidence and ability to socialise. It is usually only slowly over time that the negative effects start to outweigh the positive – or as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, ‘alcohol gave me wings, but then it took away the sky’.
Alcohol affects the central nervous system and acts as a depressant like many sedative medications. It releases Endorphins in the brain with an opiate like effect, triggering a pain response and a euphoric buzz. It also relieves anxiety, and it can disinhibit behaviour, thereby helping with social interaction and performance.
It’s possible to be an alcoholic without being physically dependent
Drinking alcohol daily over time creates a physical dependency, and this is a serious problem. However, it is possible to be an alcoholic without being physically dependent. Bingeing is a highly destructive pattern of drinking, affecting one’s health and endangering self and others.
Alcoholism is now recognised to be a brain dysfunction
Alcoholism and addiction are now recognised to be a brain dysfunction caused by the changes that occur in parts of the brain as a result of either prolonged alcohol use and/or pre-existing brain chemistry imbalance, particularly with the neural transmitter dopamine. This leads to distorted thinking or unhealthy choices in order to self-medicate your difficulties.
Addiction in the family increases your risk of becoming addicted by 50%
The Alcoholism Gene: One factor attracting scientific researched is the genetic influence, could alcohol addiction be hereditary? It often seems to run in the family, and one study found that statistically about half the risk of becoming an alcoholic is if members of your family are also alcoholic. This is to say that in families where addiction is present you are at 50 percent more risk of becoming addicted yourself.
Causes for alcoholism can be a complicated combination of factors
What causes alcohol addiction can be a complicated combination of factors listed below and we ask you to explore these when undergoing alcoholism and alcohol addiction treatment.
- Genetic factors or your family genealogy
Psychological history and development
Environmental factors like work and relationships
Social factors including a drinking culture
Emotional health and stress
Mental health symptoms, anxiety and depression
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is now the preferred medical term for describing alcohol addiction. A high-functioning alcoholic is a person who is able to hide the worst effects of their drinking.
One of the reasons it can take people so long to break free of addiction is that they believe they have to fit a certain stereotype to be in trouble. The important thing to understand is, if you continue to drink despite the obvious negative consequences of this behaviour, you have an alcohol problem.
Remember: Recognising and accepting you have an alcohol problem is the first step to resolving it, so well done and we hope this website about alcohol rehab treatment in Thailand will help.
It is not always obvious or easy to recognise when your drinking has progressed from recreational to problematic, however, if you use alcohol to cope or avoid negative feelings you are at risk.
Think about why you drink? Most people enjoy the mood altering effects of alcohol. Usually, the effects increase in the following order:
Euphoria – relaxing high
Excitement – loss of control
Confusion – uninhibited behaviour and mixed feelings
Stupor – loss of motor functions and balance
Coma – black outs and unconsciousness
Death – slowed respiratory system, alcohol poisoning
The alcohol intake activates the human reward system, so even though we should probably stop at the euphoria stage, many cannot or do not want too. The brain’s feel-good chemistry, a neurotransmitter, is activated and plays an important role in motivation and reinforcement. We use the term “Hijacked” for the change that occurs in an alcoholic’s brain thus resulting in the unconscious or conscious compulsion to keep drinking despite the harmful consequences, to self or others.
Following terms describe different forms and stages of alcohol addiction:
Binge-drinking means consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period
Alcohol abuse is where people develop problems due to excessive drinking even though they are not physically dependent
Alcoholism – Alcohol Dependence
Alcohol dependence refers to a physical/psychological addiction characterised by increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
DSM or the doctors manual of diseases have criteria to ascertain whether you have a problem, this comes on three levels by identifying the traits listed below so as the diagnosis scale can show the level of your progression:
2 or 3 mild – 4 or 5 moderate – 6 or more severe
Read through the criteria for your own assessment of alcoholism or alcohol addiction below:
Using alcohol in larger quantities and for longer than intended
Trying to cut down or stop without success
Time lost getting using and recovering from drinking
Triggers and cravings to drink
Continuing to drink in spite of negative psychological and physical harm
Avoid social, occupational or recreational events due to drinking
Drinking even though it is damaging relationships
Drinking repeatedly even when it puts you in danger
Homework or school life affected due to alcohol
Having withdrawal symptoms that are relieved by drinking
Binge drinkers tend to take breaks, and for this reason, they believe they are in control however the reality is a bigger neurotransmitter boost when they excessively drink over a short period. The breaks in-between is recovery time and preparation for the next bout.
Dependent drinkers are physically addicted and sometimes need alcohol to stave off the withdrawal symptoms, and they develop ever-increasing tolerance over time. However, you don’t need to drink large amounts every day to be dependent as the psychological element is the enduring issue to contend with.
Early onset drinking is usually in teenage years and is considered to be a symptom of an underlying condition to do with brain chemistry. Depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other behavioural signs are also indicators there is a problem and therefore a predisposition to forming an addiction.
Late onset comes in middle age and can be a total surprise. It is often reactive i.e. triggered by a life-changing event such as bereavement or loss of a job, purpose and meaning. Also, it is possible to have all the traits of an addict without abusing a substance; this is helped by external control factors or other means to boost one’s brain chemistry, like workaholism or co-dependency. So the tendency to form an addiction is held at bay for long periods.
- Pre-alcoholic – tolerance begins to develop but still functions, start drinking to feel better and deal with stress.
Early alcoholic – Start lying about drinking, an inability to resist.
Middle alcoholic – Missing work & social engagements, symptoms are becoming obvious, attempts to quit fail.
Late alcoholic – Health problems, sleep issues, all day drinking and withdrawal symptoms.
Note:Substance misuse can induce permanent mental disorders that then become co-occurring conditions such as, anxiety, mood, sexual, dementia and sleep disorders. There are also independent co-occurring mental health illnesses that produce self-medicating tendencies such as clinical depression, bipolar and many others.
Social Phobia: Excessive fear of social situations is a very common reason people drink, and performance anxiety and public speaking are the number one fear in the world. The symptoms these situations trigger are embarrassing in themselves, so there is a compounding effect. The use of the alcohol helps medicate the symptoms and reduce tension caused by a biological stress response.
As well as CBT to help change the self-defeating or negative thinking underlying the social anxiety, we use exposure therapy rather than enabling clients to avoid social situations thereby having a restricted life. Also, relaxation techniques are helpful and learning new social skills if necessary.
Alcohol consumption is also motivated by high levels of stress. The word stress describes the pressure or tension either at work, from parenting, in relationships or economic. All these stresses trigger an emotional and biological response that feels uncomfortable and exhausting. And although it is exhausting due to worry and fear it can be very difficult to sleep, this is compounding your problems even further. So using alcohol to cope can be regarded as self-medicating or a temporary escape from the following vicious cycle, – the issue – lack of sleep – drinking – more issues.
Alcoholism and the “compulsion-to-drink-process” can be plotted step by step, by ticking certain boxes; however, you may not recognise the process before completing a course of treatment. This is because much of the behaviour is automatic so in treatment we break down the different stages listed below to raise your awareness:
- Obsession and preoccupation when triggered either by thoughts, stress or time of day
Alcohol-seeking behaviour is the drinking ritual to satisfy the urge no matter what
Gratification whether instant or delayed there is a relief
Return to normal or just a break in the obsessive thinking and emotional pain
Justification convincing yourself it’s normal and it helps
Blame to rationalise why my works fault or the relationship problems
Shame, regret and remorse kick in when the high has subsided and reality is restored
Despair when feeling trapped in a destructive cycle
Promises to self or others to stop either the consequences or the drinking itself
Denial is one of the main barriers to confronting a drinking problem; this can involve impaired memory however it is possible to penetrate your denial and help others to do the same in treatment. Humans tend to minimise the harm they do and rationalise why by justifying and blaming. This is instinctive in order to reduce anxiety levels and function. Some denial is rooted in the unconscious, and some obvious denial is in your awareness, like lying and hiding. It is useful to recognise signs that there is a problem and can include some of the issues below:
- Feeling guilty or ashamed about your drinking
Friends or family concerned about your drinking
Need a drink to cope or relax
Blackouts or memory lapses
Drink more than intended
Life is out of control
Going to rehab can feel like a huge commitment. Unless you appreciate the need for this type of help, it is understandable that you are likely to feel resistant to the idea. If you view an inpatient treatment program as just somewhere, you go to quit drinking you are probably not going to feel too enthusiastic about the suggestion – especially if you have managed to quit without this type of help in the past. That is not what rehab is about.
The real goal of this program therefore is to help you develop a new way of living where you no longer need alcohol (or any other drug) to cope.
One reason why you might feel resistant to rehab is the hope that you may one day be able to drink safely again. Maybe if you just stop for a few months, or limit alcohol to the weekends? This type of thinking can keep you trapped in misery for years. The reality is that alcohol addiction leads to permanent changes in the brain, so the only feasible treatment is complete abstinence.
There are no real entry requirements for alcohol rehab other than your desire to quit drinking. People these days are far more aware of the dangers of drinking, and this means they are able to spot the signs of alcohol problems earlier. If you can get help now before you cross the line into addiction, it can mean you avoid unnecessary suffering and loss.
One of the main focuses of treatment is to take personal responsibility for your own problems. This is because only then can you make the changes necessary to improve your life, otherwise, the power is in the hands of those you blame. We do not expect this to happen overnight. Instead, we have a system for achieving this by using CBT skills and recovery assignments.
You will start by getting sober and following doctor’s advice regarding alcohol detoxification and screening. Then the recovery therapy begins, and you will document your drinking behaviour and consequences. There are many good reasons for this, however, one reason is to confirm without any doubt the need for a robust solution.
Medication can help with alcoholism and has positive short-term results. However, it is limited. Naltrexone and acamprosate treat symptoms and reduce triggers and cravings. Antabuse is a blocker and antidepressants help with post-acute withdrawal or underlying issues. While these meds can help at the beginning, they also form a dependency and tend to prevent clients from making important changes in their lives. This is the difference between a treatment and rehabilitation program: we say the medication is just like using a sticking plaster, it’s superficial. We suggest using medication as part of a holistic approach not exclusively.
Alcohol Rehab Treatment in Thailand is available and fast becoming the preferred option for many people. Even if you are the type of person who loves to go abroad, you may still feel a bit hesitant about coming to Thailand for addiction treatment. Spending your days on a tropical beach is one thing, but choosing the right solution for an alcohol problem is serious stuff, and you will only want to consider a quality program.
Foreigners have been coming to Thailand to seek help for their addiction problems since at least 1960s. Up until a decade ago, the only viable option would have involved staying at a temple such as Thamkrabok but now there are modern facilities like Hope Rehab. At out center, we combine the best of the Western evidence-based addiction treatments with the spiritual practices of the East (e.g. mindfulness).
Thailand is the perfect location for an alcohol treatment center. Not only is it a beautiful environment, where clients find it easier to blossom, but the generally low cost of living here makes it is possible to offer a high-quality program at a fraction of the cost of most other countries. The attractiveness of Thailand as a place to live also makes it easy for us to attract the best addiction professionals from around the world to come and work here.
Quality treatment at an affordable price
Small community where you will be treated as an individual
Holistic program that includes mindfulness therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, wellness therapy, and 12-step work
Real world recovery coaching – e.g. supported visits to local attractions, department stores, and restaurants
Individualised care planning
Unique local treatments such as mahasati meditation, traditional Thai massage, and Muay Thai training
Innovative aftercare program with options such as our sober (second-stage treatment) house, online meetings, mindfulness coaching, and recovery coaching
The majority of our clients come from places like the UK, Australia, and the US, but we also regularly get expats coming to us for help. Some are people who never really had much of a problem with alcohol in their home country, but things spiralled out of control once they moved to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, or Myanmar.
However, a lot of people who develop addiction problems in Southeast Asia will have had problems with drugs and alcohol even before they arrived. The expat population in Southeast Asia can be highly vulnerable to developing an addiction problem. There are a number of reasons for why this may be the case. These are usually high functioning alcoholics or drug users who were able to mostly hide the extent of their substance abuse at home. This ability to remain functional despite an underlying addiction is usually due to pressure from family, friends, and work colleagues. The problem is that when a person moves to a foreign country, there is far less pressure on them to hide their addiction so the problem can quickly escalate.
Another common reason expats in Southeast Asia develop addiction problems is due to loneliness and boredom. Coming to an exotic country like Thailand for a three-week holiday is a lot different than actually living here full-time. It is common for expats to develop culture-shock – alcohol or drugs can be a tempting way to escape this discomfort. The fact of being so far away from family and friends can also experience loneliness which they then try to self-medicate.
It is now becoming increasingly common for retired people to move to Southeast Asia from other parts of the world. There can be a wonderful life waiting for retirees in countries like Thailand, but there can also be the danger of addiction. People who have worked hard all of their lives can actually find it a struggle to settle into retirement and substance abuse can become a way to deal with this discomfort. There can also be a sense of entitlement in regards to drinking hard as people can feel like they have earned it.
Also, there is a culture of heavy drinking among the expat community here in Thailand, and the consequences of this behaviour can be severe. There are regular news stories in the tourist towns like Pattaya and Chiang Mai about foreigners committing suicide or ending up in serious trouble and alcohol is usually involved. There is also now a growing number of homeless Westerners living in Thailand– these individuals are often dealing with a dual diagnosis of an alcoholism combined with a mental health problem.
If you have a loved one struggling with problem-related to drugs and alcohol in Southeast Asia you may be at your wit’s end trying to figure out a way to help this person. The best chance your loved one has of breaking free of addiction is to combine a strong determination to change with the right resources – although some people do initially start off a bit ambivalent towards addiction treatment. Here at Hope Rehab Thailand, we have an impressive record of helping people transform and embrace recovery. The majority of our therapists are not only highly experienced in dealing with addictive disorders, but they also have a personal history of dealing with it in their own lives. We focus on individualised treatment planning with an emphasis on evidence-based treatments such as mindfulness therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, wellness therapy, and 12-step work.
One tip to ensure alcoholism and alcohol addiction treatment is successful is to put all worries about the future aside, especially about whether or not you can drink ever again, as it gets in the way of treatment. Major decisions like these can be dealt with later. Of course, the ideal situation is that you commit to abstinence for the time being until you understand your problem thoroughly.
Accepting help is a common difficulty for alcoholics and addicts even when admitting themselves for treatment. This resistance develops over time as defences become entrenched or a pattern of protecting supply becomes automatic. We ask you to be open-minded and follow our suggestions even when it gets difficult: remember changing thinking and behaviour takes time.
Why stopping to drink is much easier today than it was in the past
Historical note: There was a time when there were no rehabs – at least nothing like we have today. Historically alcoholics ended up in a mental institution, religious institutions, prisons, hospitals, or in the gutter and then dead. Since the advent of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and other new therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specialist addiction rehabs have developed – not all of these treatment centers use the same methods but most have saved many lives and nurtured a recovery community.
So, “how to stop drinking” is much easier today than it was in the past. It’s almost as if humans have adapted to the idea they can get help from rehabs, so they usually require rehab help to stop drinking nowadays.
WARNING: Always seek medical advice before detoxing – it is possible to detox at home and stop drinking without admitting yourself for treatment but not very safe. Alcohol dependence is very serious and stopping drinking suddenly can trigger life-threatening seizures.
Short term advice on how to stop drinking (do not drive)
…for those who are sick or in crisis
Stop drinking alcohol…no brainer
Drink water…flushes you out
Drink coffee…for caffeine
Cold shower…to refresh
Sleep it off…safest way
Eat…to soak up the alcohol
Most people are motivated to stop drinking when the pain of using outweighs the pain of being sober
These are temporary solutions to what could be a longer-term problem: we say quick fix solutions are just like the drinking itself, a quick fix for something else. However, most people are motivated to stop drinking when the pain of using outweighs the pain of being sober – i.e. the costs of continued alcohol abuse are too high to justify the instant rewards and the person is no longer in denial about it. Of course, there are those unfortunate souls who never admit the problem until it’s too late and their body gives up. Some serious health effects are alcohol related liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and pancreatitis.
Long-term suggestions on how to stop drinking
…for those who are sick and tired of being sick and tired
Committing in your heart and to someone else to stop drinking
Set your target and goals and make a plan
Write a cost benefit analysis
Prayer and affirmations or mission statements
Get help and support
Investigate treatment options
Identify your thinking about drinking and using
Help and support
Relapse prevention plan
Make a commitment to stop drinking and be sure to inform someone else who cares about you, so you are accountable, and you are more likely to succeed with support. Be prepared to take a break from your life and do whatever it takes to stay sober. If it helps then set a time period to review your commitment, so it does not feel too big and therefore impossible. Remember to get that valuable support as alcoholics are classically self-willed and self-reliant.
Most counsellors use CBT to help alcoholics, addicts, depression, and anxiety problems, below are examples of self-talk and beliefs that justify negative and unhealthy behaviours – all these can be challenged and changed.
Alcohol is a depressant, but it also stimulates the brain in the same way all drugs do. It increases the release of dopamine in your brain’s reward centre, making you feel great. Alcohol affects both “excitatory” neurotransmitters and “inhibitory” neurotransmitters – glutamate, Dopamine and GABA – increasing brain activity and energy levels while slowing the central nervous system down at the same time, resulting in slow and distorted responses.
Understanding the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine is helpful.
People with addictions are low on dopamine, causing addiction, depression, loss of satisfaction, poor focus and other symptoms. Low dopamine levels cause us to consciously and unconsciously seek out dopamine-raising substances or behaviours. All substances stimulate dopamine release or increase its activity and produce the hedonic response “I like that”.
Reward center: Changes in the way we experience pleasure and life.
Impaired memory: Euphoric recall despite negative consequences of Alcohol.
Self-medicating: Numbing negative thoughts and feelings.
Hijacked Brain: Human reward system is designed for survival but hijacked by chemical payoffs provided by Alcohol. The reward circuitry normally bookmarks important things: food, nurturing children, education, work and friendships. However, now it has been corrupted by the substance.
Common thinking and self-talk about drinking
Just one more
I will stop tomorrow
I drink to be social
When I get this job
When I get the right relationship
I am in control
Common beliefs about drinking
I forget about problems
I feel better when I drink
I have fun when I drink
I can’t relax without a drink
It helps relieve stress
I can’t find any other ways to manage my problems
I would have to give up my friends
I find responsibilities too much to cope with
Common costs of drinking
The loss of things and people we care about
Work performance suffers
Loss of finances
Drink related accidents
Over controlling to compensate
Common benefits from not drinking
Relationships often heal after someone stops drinking
Significant mental and physical health improvement
Lots more time to do healthy things
Energy levels go up
Can see people and do activities you love
Drinking and using causes negative issues in relationships
Feelings of depression and anxiety after acting out
Basic functioning improves
What do I dislike about my drinking or addiction?
What will improve if I stop?
What scares me about the change?
If you are considering asking for help, below are the treatment steps you could take to achieve sobriety:
Detoxification or Detox – this is sometimes necessary due to dependency and length of time alcohol is abused. A tranquillizer may be used for about one week to help ease the withdrawal process.
Rehabilitation or Rehab – starts with the primary stage usually one month, or in some cases, two, then secondary which is more in-depth therapy and finally a stay in a sober house.
Maintenance of sobriety – aftercare and AA meetings are the most successful evidenced-based forms of maintenance, however, many people are using mindfulness and meditation these days.
Irrational Reasons for Not Going to Rehab: Many of us who would benefit from a stay in rehab will at least initially feel resistant to the idea. We may feel there are justifiable reasons for not taking this step, but these excuses will often be just part of our denial and fear of change. Here are just a few of the common illogical reasons for not going to rehab
I Am Too Busy to Enter an Inpatient Treatment Program
We do lead very busy lives, but would you be still too busy if there were a need for some type of emergency surgery? Addiction treatment can save your life – not to mention your career, family, and friendships.
My Problems Are Not Serious Enough to Require RehaB
The reality is that once we are caught up in addiction, our ability to decide what is good for us diminishes – part of the process of denial is we grossly underestimate the seriousness of our problem. Rehab can give you the best chance of recovery from addiction, so it makes sense that you should choose this step if you are serious about quitting
I Can’t Afford to Go to Rehab
Rehab is an investment in your future – it may be the most beneficial investment you ever make. Maybe the real question you should be asking is if you can afford not to go
I Want to Wait Until I Feel Ready for Rehab
The best time for you to go to rehab is as soon as possible. If you continue to wait until the ‘right time’, you may cross a line after which a full recovery is no longer possible (e.g. liver failure, alcoholic dementia, or death).