'Rehab tourism" is on the rise, with new figures released today that reveal a more than doubling of Aussie patrons to a leading five-star drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Thailand over the past five years.
Between 2010 to 2015, Australian visitors to DARA Drug and Alcohol Rehab Asia, Thailand, presented largely with alcohol and methamphetamine ('Ice") addictions. Most came from Perth, followed closely by Melbourne; were male; aged in their late 30s to early 40s; and spent an average of 35 days in rehabilitation.
According to Dr Phil Townshend, Clinical Psychologist, DARA Treatment Director and former head of Gamblers Help Services at the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Melbourne, 'Australiansare unceremoniously renowned for being the world's biggest gamblers and users of ecstasy, the second highest abusers of prescription opioid treatments, the world's third highest users of methamphetamines, the fourth highest users of cocaine, and the seventh highest users of marijuana.
'We've witnessed a groundswell in Aussie visitors to DARA over the past five years, from 14.5 per cent in 2010 to 31 per cent in 2015, most of whom presented with an alcohol addiction, followed by a methamphetamine addiction, although many used a mix of multiple substances, with alcohol almost always in the picture,"said Dr Townshend.
'This surge in clientele may be largely attributed to the long waiting lists of Australian public rehabilitation clinics, the high cost of private clinics, and their location in an environment in with which the addicted individual is familiar, and therefore, easily able to feed their addiction."
Mother-of-two, Clinical Support Officer and recovering addict, Nicole, 36, Tweed Heads, completed her first treatment program for drug addiction at DARA in February, 2015. Nicole began smoking marijuana at 13 years of age, drinking alcohol a year later, and dabbling with amphetamines at 18 years of age – an addiction which soon catapulted into week-long use. Yet, despite her consistent drug use, Nicole continued to work full-time, only ceasing her drug use when falling pregnant or post- birth, when breast feeding.
'DARA saved my life. It was an unbelievable experience.
'I had originally booked in for the four-week treatment course, but I extended it to six-weeks when I was there, and I can honestly say, the life skills I learned in those six-weeks were more beneficial than anything I ever learned in school," said Nicole.