Muscat: Families of young Omanis battling drug addiction are paying thousands to send them out of the country for treatment.
A five-star rehabilitation clinic in Thailand now has an Arabic wing where Omanis can get clean – at a cost of $14,000 a month.
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In the hope of getting better treatment for drug addiction, Omanis are exploring options for treatment beyond their home country.
The Cabin Chiang Mai is the only Thai Ministry-licensed rehabilitation centre in Thailand, which has witnessed a surge in the number of patients from the Middle East, including Oman.
“We are an exclusive 50 room-addiction treatment centre, widely recognised as Asia’s leading behavioural health treatment facility, and have been seeing a steady increase in the number of clients from the Middle East over the past three to four years,” said Reeya Chaicharas, PR manager, The Cabin Addiction Services Group.
Out of the total 1,826 clients that have come to The Cabin over the last five years, the numbers of Middle Easterners stood at 183, of which the number of Omanis were pegged at 37, accounting for about 20 per cent of the total visitors.
Among the 37, the number of males was 33 and the remaining four were females.
The age group with the maximum representation was 16 to 26 years with 24 people; 11 were from the 27 to 37 years age group and one person each from the 38 to 48 and 49 to 59 age groups.
“At present, every 1 in 10 clients is from the Middle East; and Omanis make up 20 per cent of this group or the second largest client group by country from the Middle East, second only to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which accounts for 37 per cent. This surge in Middle Eastern clients prompted us to open a special Arabic treatment service/section a couple of years ago,” Chaicharas said.
‘The Cabin Arabic’ offered at the facility is the only comprehensive addiction rehab programme outside the Middle East that is conducted fully in the Arabic language by licensed, native Arabic addiction counsellors, according to Chaicharas.
“Addiction counsellors and all our Middle Eastern counsellors are accredited, board qualified professionals. We also have many psychologists on the team, but they are not Middle Eastern. We are also required to have a qualified full time doctor on site.”
“Clients are treated in a culturally-sensitive environment that includes Halal dining and observation of prayer times,” she added.
Last year, The Cabin treated nine Omanis, and in the first half of this year (until June) four Omanis have completed treatment.
The Cabin does have returning clients, who come for both visits and in case of relapses. “We do have returning clients and in the unfortunate case when some clients do relapse (addiction is a chronic illness), yes they do come back, but so far we have not had any Omani clients relapse,”Chaicharas revealed.
Most clients are usually dropped to the facility by a family member(s), but they are required to stay in treatment alone so that they can focus on themselves.
“We have a three-day family programme every month, and we encourage families to attend at least once during the client’s treatment stay as it helps the family understand the disease of addiction and how they should deal with their loved one once he or she returns home.”
The cost is $14,000 for a 28-day treatment programme, and on an average clients stay for about two months.
Some clients stay even longer depending on the severity of their case, and how responsive they are to treatment.
Chaicharas was of the view that the lack of a proper addiction treatment in the Middle East, specifically Oman,was forcing people to opt for places,such as The Cabin.
“Our ability to offer treatment in their native language and lack of proper addiction centres in the Middle East leads people to us. Also confidentiality, because addiction still has a stigma attached to it in Oman as there is not enough awareness.
However, in terms of awareness it is getting better as we are seeing more and more Omani clients, whose families recognise that their loved one has a treatable illness,” she noted.
According to Chaicharas, addiction is a neurological illness, and most sufferers, Omanis included, are functioning individuals with jobs and families, “We are glad to see that a small group of people from your country are realising this and seeking help.”