Thailand heroin detox 'effective'

The temple in the grounds of Thamkrabok Monastery Treatment at Thamkrabok Monastery includes meditation and herbal steam baths

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Detoxing drug addicts who are sent to a Buddhist monastery in Thailand have higher rates of recovery than those treated on the NHS, a report claims.

East-West Detox, a Reading-based charity, commissioned the report after its NHS funding was stopped in 2007.

The report states 95% of patients are drug-free after treatment. This compares with 38% of NHS patients.

Berkshire West Primary Care Trust said it "doesn't currently have plans to commission services" from the charity.

The charity sends drug addicts on a four-week detoxification and rehabilitation programme at Thamkrabok Monastery, north Thailand.

Treatment includes herbal medication that induces projectile vomiting, herbal steam baths and meditation.

Currently addicts have to fund the trip themselves.

Research on this alternative treatment was carried out by Queen's University in Belfast and Brunel University in London over a three-year period, which included following 65 recovering addicts for 12 months.

Charity founder Mike Sarson said the report, published in the NHS Executive Journal, shows that the NHS should resume funding the treatment.

"We've become over-medicated in the West, with a pill for every ill," he said.

"We're not saying it's for everyone, but it shows that ours is a viable treatment option for addicts."

In the latest NTA report on the number of people on NHS drug treatment in England, it stated that 38% of clients in 2009/10 "completed treatment successfully".

A Berkshire West Primary Care Trust spokesman said it used guidance from the National Treatment Agency (NTA) and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence when commissioning detox provision.

He said: "We have used robust procurement processes to commission services from good quality providers, and continue to work to improve services within the limits of funding available."

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