Surrey woman's Thailand monastery stay to conquer heroin

Kathy Woods Kathy Woods had previously tried to get off heroin at home with methadone

A Surrey woman who has been addicted to heroin for three years has travelled to a Thai monastery to conquer her habit.

Kathy Woods, 29, had been taking recreational drugs from the age of 18 and then tried heroin.

Her family said her addiction had a devastating effect on them, especially her mother who was convinced she would one day find her dead.

Reading-based charity East West Detox helped Ms Woods make the trip to a detox centre run by monks in Thailand.

Ms Woods said: "You don't think it will happen to you. You just get in with the wrong crowd and do things and it gets out of control."

Ms Woods had already tried to quit using heroin substitute methadone.

She said: "It just zombifies you and keeps you on a level.

"If I couldn't get heroin I'd go to the chemist and think I've got methadone that will carry me - it will help me enough until I can score heroin.

"But it didn't stop me doing heroin. It's absolutely evil, evil stuff. Worse, I'd say, than heroin itself."

East-West Detox charity helps out with access to treatment for addiction that has been carried out by monks at the Thamkrabok Monastery in Thailand since 1957.

Start Quote

I'm not going to fail cos I'm never going to put myself through this again.”

End Quote Kathy Woods

Ms Woods was stripped of money, possessions and her passport. Before her treatment could begin she had to take a holy vow or Saccha.

"It's making a commitment never to use addictive drugs again," said Ms Woods.

The treatment meant her life was governed by a bell, with a strict daily regime of steam baths and teachings and for the first week she had to endure induced sickness.

The monks believe induced sickness purges the body of all toxins. For the first five days addicts are given a vomiting medicine or yatan.

Ms Woods said: "I'm not going to fail because I'm never going to put myself through this again."

Ms Woods said the worse time for her was at night: "The withdrawals at night - they just go on so long because you're locked up at 9pm until 4.30am.

"You can't sleep and there's no one in my dorm that speaks English either - that's the worst - the night time."

Kathy Woods Ms Woods stayed at The Hay centre for two and a half weeks

The monks at Thamkrabok said they don't know how many of their patients stay clean after they leave. However, a report published in 2011 by East West Detox claimed their success rates were more than double than in the UK.

Ms Woods returned home from the treatment early, after being in Thailand for two and a half weeks.

Eight months after the treatment Ms Woods is still off heroin.

She said: "I've got friends that still do it and the temptation has been there but after what I've gone through, some strength inside me has just said 'no' because if I do it once that will just be it. There's no going back. It has totally changed my life.

Gavin, a former addict turned monk at the monastery, said: "Addicts have to take responsibility for themselves.

"I think people who have addictions in any form of life have to look at themselves and say: "It was me - and I have to change.

"It's strict - we have compassion we're Buddhists but overall - you follow the regime. If you don't like it you can leave."

Inside Out is broadcast on BBC One South East, South and London on Monday, 20 February at 19:30 GMT. It is also available nationwide on the BBC iPlayer for seven days thereafter.

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