Located in Prasat Thanong Sub-district, Prasat District, Surin Provinces, Thailand, Sawang Arom Temple, a simplistic and small temple with 6-7 monks has served as a center of the community’s liveliness and played a crucial role in alcohol rehabilitation for local people here.
Every Saturday, Sawang Arom Temple will be full of local people who come to participate in special activities organized by the temple in collaboration with the public primary health care center. This include alcohol rehabilitation using the Buddhist approach, called “Dhamma Alcohol Rehabilitation Program”.
From experience as a nurse working at the primary health care centre in this are, Nueng has been in touch with a different variety of drinkers. Many of them are alcoholics.
Some successfully quitted , but, unfortunately, many of them relapsed and had not returned to seek professional health support at the center. Nueng sees the temple as a potential place to help the local people suffering from alcohol addiction. The temple could integrate health literacy promotion into its activities, including Dhamma teaching and practice, while actively providing an alcohol psychosocial rehabilitation. Actively supported by the monks who have already been using trust and religious belief in helping the alcoholics, “Dhamma Alcohol Rehabilitation Program” has started. It first followed the successful program in Chiangmai. and was adjusted the fit better the context of the Surin people. As a result, Prasat Thanong people who joined the program have been able to quit drinking and some even chose to devote themselves to becoming a monk and helping other people in need.
These are the 10 key successes and activities in the Dhamma Alcohol Rehabilitation Program which changed the lives of Surin people who were addicted to alcohol. This also shows us that the cooperation between health personnel, religious practitioners, and the locals can efficiently resolve the problem of alcohol addiction in the community
The main principle in the alcohol rehabilitation process is to keep the environment peaceful, calm, cool, and shady but with enough light for the patient to stay relaxed and undisturbed by the environment. Sawang Arom Temple is full of shady trees and it is not too crowded, which is just perfect for rehabilitation.
2. There are easy-to-understand teachings written all over the area to help remind the patients/drinkers/alcoholics and keep their spirits up.
3. Monk Noi (pseudonym) is one of the former participants in the Dhamma Alcohol Rehabilitation Program who failed time after time before joining. Finally, he succeeded in doing so with the help of the monk holding the program and that made him decide to devote his life to being a monk.
4. One of the highlight activities which the monks who were former drinkers have to mention is the oath to stop drinking which has to be given in front of the whole community. “Not being able to keep the oath would be a massive shame” said one of the monks.
Aside from the monks, the people would also have to give a promise to the monks not to drink again. This is said to also be effective in keeping the drinkers away from drinking.
5.When there is no activity being held, the library is a good choice which the local people opt for. Usually, the students from the local area would come to borrow books from the library. It can be said that it is also a society center which gathers people from all ages.
6. Even though religion has a role in the process of alcohol rehabilitation, the monks from Sawang Arom Temple stated that effective rehabilitation still requires efforts from the health professional personnel to help take care of the physical health of the patients/drinkers/alcoholics while religions are to deal with the mental and spiritual health.
7. Every Saturday, the central pavilion is used to hold an activity about the impact of drinking and the rehabilitation process with the help of health care experts from the public primary health care center. This is one of the program’s activities that can be joined for no cost at all.
8. After the lecture, participants will join together and paint or color pictures to practice mindfulness. This also serves the purpose of checking whether they still have some shaking from prolonged drinking. Those still having the problem would be later assisted.
9. Apart from the lecture, sometimes there would be a session over simple exercises to help keep healthy for the locals. This activity is especially popular among the elderly.
10. Quitting alcohol not only helps improve the lives of the former drinkers but some of them even chose to become a role models for others to follow as well.
Developed from the original article in Thai ‘เลิกเหล้ามาเข้าวัด’ เปลี่ยนจังหวะชีวิตด้วยโครงการบำบัดวิถีพุทธ , https://alcoholrhythm.com/wat-sawang-arom-photo-essay/?fbclid=IwAR24xtcELytKggItkyYUR0H5p8tI2AGvX592d8m8d_g OxzMGtKMKq3G7NyU Accessed 28 May 2022.
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