An investigative study into private drug rehabilitation centers
in Thailand* have revealed a shocking fact, majority of them are illegally run. Of the more than 38 private drug rehabilitation centers (or drug rehabs
as they are often called) run in Thailand
, it was found that only 12 actually met the right legal requirements.
Over the last decade as a result a of few American and British celebrities coming for drug rehabilitation programs in Thailand, many such businesses have sprung up and majority are owned either by British, American or Australian individuals with Russians and Ukrainians joining in the game. Off course there are Thai proxies who have helped them set up their operations. Just google online and you will find so many listed online with impressive websites.
Most of these private centers are located in areas like Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Phuket, PhangNga and Samui. The most number of rehab centers are found in Chiang Mai.
It is also a lucrative business as many young Brits, Aussies and Americans come to Thailand to get weaned off their drug addiction issues and it is estimated that almost about 70,000 foreign individuals came for drug rehab
services in 2018. And mind you these 2 weeks to 3 months detoxifying
programs do not come cheap. They start from 150,000 baht to a few million baht, that’s almost a 5 billion baht industry that many never knew about!
Thailand Medical News only managed to check on 38 such private centers but apparently there are even more that are run in remote areas in the Northern provinces, Chonburi, Prachin Buri, Chumphon, Samui and Phuket.
Of the 38 private rehab centers
, it was found that all were run by foreigners or the management were foreigners and none had any Thai doctors on their management team. Many had so called foreign addiction psychiatrists and psychologists were not licensed by the Thai Medical Board and almost all of these foreigners who did not display their qualifications and some sounded dodgy when asked about their professional qualifications.
What was even surprising was that when questioned about their standard protocols for rehab, some disclosed that for weaning off certain drug addictions the process was slow and gradual and sometimes the patient would be put on drug substitutes like Methadone, Buprenorphine or Naltrexone before being placed into “cold turkey” treatment. My query was how was it that rehab centers
like these that were not licensed by the Ministry Of Public Health and did not have any Thai licensed doctors on their teams or even licensed pharmacists were able to procure and dispense drug substitutes like methadone etc which are all controlled opioids themselves!
What is even more disturbing was that there was no Thai licensed addiction psychiatrists or psychologists on their teams.
It is also mandatory that such private drug rehab
centers register with the local police of law enforcement agencies and also narcotics suppression agencies but this was never done.
Even when a patient is undergoing the so called “cold turkey” treatment stages where withdrawal symptoms that manifest can sometimes be medically critical, it is often best to have a medical doctor around or at least available for consultation.In
are usually present or on call when a patient is undergoing "cold turkey", just in case during the withdrawal process induces any adverse health effects. This was not the case at these drug rehabs
Most of these private rehab centers
had their own routines and dietary intakes which included their own herbal concoctions etc, none of which were medically proven to work.
It would be interesting to know what type of visas these foreigners were on to be enable them to run such drug rehab
centers and also what type of business licenses they own. Even more interesting would be are there new laws that have been introduced that allows foreign addiction psychiatrists or psychologists to operate in Thailand without the need of certification by the local Thai Medical Board. A report has already been submitted to relevant regulatory agencies requesting for answers. It is also interesting to know whether any local authorities have been paid to allow these drug rehab centers to operate and also in some cases, have seen these rehab centers even advertise or lists their services on certain local mainstream media and also foreign forum boards.
Even though most of these private drug rehab
centers cater for foreigners, any major incident is enough to tarnish Thailand’s image as a center for medical tourism.
Most foreigners also have to understand by using the services of such illegal drug rehab
centers, in the case of any mistreatments that can result in physical or mental damages, one will not have any legal avenue to claim for monetary damages or even get coverage by insurance for remedial purposes.
There are legal drug addiction
rehab services offered at many major private hospitals and also by certain Thai government agencies which cost a fraction of what these centers offer plus also proper medical supervision. There are a lot of English speaking and foreign educated licensed Thai psychiatrists and psychologists specialized in drug and alcohol addiction issues. Anyone wanting to be discreet or be incognito need not fear as a couple of these private hospitals also offer such services. Relatives or family members of loved ones going through drug issues should always do your own due diligence before using the services of these rehab centers. Just because the drug rehab
center ‘claimed’ that some stupid drug crazed celebrity had used their services in the past does not mean it is save to use them.Check if they are licensed by the Ministry of Public Health Thailand, then only use them.
Note*The report was done on 38 rehabs centers that were checked in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Phuket, PhangNga and Samui.
There are lots of rehabs centres in other provinces and all prospective clients are requested to do due diligence before checking into any of them. Only use licensed rehab centres.To check if a rehab centre is licensed or if their staff are approved, check with the Ministry of Public Health Thailand hotline: 1214.