Why did you chosen Phuket to set up Bhavana?
Phuket was specifically chosen for its local infrastructure, high quality medical staff, JCI Hospitals and strong support from on-island AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] and NA [Narcotics Anonymous] groups.
External factors include its excellent direct air links to major cities and ease of transit, very crucial for medically fragile patients travelling and therefore not requiring lengthy transits.
Lastly Phuket lends itself to a resort and holiday feel which can promote healing, reflection and help with confidentiality and privacy. No-one would really question you if you said you were on holiday in Phuket for a month...
What makes Bhavana different from other treatment centres in Phuket?
Bhavana is the only dedicated, international-standard treatment hospital facility for addiction in Asia.
What addiction does a typical patient suffer from?
Addiction affects all types of people, regardless of age, class or other demographics. As such we do not have a 'typical' patient.
The majority of our patients have alcohol problems though we are seeing a rise in party drugs, sleeping pills and process addictions like gambling, internet use and sexual compulsivity.
Do certain groups have a higher propensity for addiction than others?
For expats it's alcohol and cocaine; Thais stimulants; and other Asian countries alcohol, sleeping pills and party drugs. We are also seeing a rise in all groups in gambling addiction.
Virtually in all groups, they suffer from coexisting disorders and dual diagnosis problems like anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders and ADHD, to name just a few.
What has been the biggest challenge setting up Bhavana?
The biggest challenge has been finding suitably qualified staff.
We pride ourselves in having only Master’s qualified level therapists. I am also very proud to have a fully functioning clinical team of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers and pharmacists.
Having a solid team is one of the most important aspects of treatment – because they all have the same goals and vision.
Have levels of addiction increased over recent years?
Yes, I think it is a combination of an increase in addictive behaviours and increased recognition and diagnosis that has resulted in our current trends we see at Bhavana.
Have perceptions of addiction changed? Classifications certainly have.
Yes, but slowly. People still have the image of addicts as 'junkies' and societal drop-outs. This is far from the truth, as we see people from all demographics.
This is particularly true now as we see more of the 'high functioning' addicts, who hardly fit the stereotype.
Do you think sex and video game addiction are now regarded as legitimate?
The medical and psychiatric profession are picking up on these new addictions. In fact in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Volume 5, due out in 2013, it classifies sexual compulsivity and addiction [as hyper sexual disorder] alongside other 'traditional' addictions like alcohol and drugs.
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