The Cabin

By The Fix staff 06/26/13

This luxury Thai rehab brings on the namaste with lush surroundings and daily pampering, but also has highly trained medical staff who know why residents are here.

The Cabin
Location : Thailand
Phone : Direct: +66 52 080 720; USA/ Canada – 1 888 806 6776
Price : $14,000 per 28 days
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : Yes

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The Cabin Chiang Mai recently received some extra publicity when beauty blogger Cat Marnell checked into treatment—but Westerners have been coming for years to this private riverside location 10 minutes’ drive from the provincial capital of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. The Cabin is surrounded by ample green space and scenic beauty.

That doesn’t mean they’re light on recovery, though. With 28- and 90-day stays, small recovery groups limited to eight to 10 people, (mild) detox facilities, and a sober-living house for those who have completed treatment, The Cabin covers the full spectrum of drug addiction, and also addresses process addictions like gambling and sex. They’re so confident about the quality of their program that they offer a unique-in-the-industry, pro-rata refund should a client wish to exit the program within their first seven days.

Residents are assigned “private, spacious rooms” that are equipped with amenities including cable, Wi-Fi, and DVD players. The villas also have outdoor showers and plenty of windows to enjoy the views, while a housekeeping staff takes care of all the chores. As one former resident put it, “Daily life was something you would expect in a luxury spa or health retreat. The private rooms and personal service were far removed from anything one might consider institutional.”

Unfortunately this doesn’t necessarily apply to the food. Although coffee, smoothies, and snacks are readily available, and the buffet-style dishes are “healthy and gourmet,” not every meal is a winner. The salad bar and authentic Thai dishes were given rave reviews, but one former patient described the meat dishes as “like eating leather.” However, one former male resident said it balanced out because “there was always more than one choice of food, so if there was something I didn’t eat (curry/spicy), there was always another option.” Alumni report that, on a case-by-case basis, the facility also places certain restrictions on unhealthy foods and excessive snacking.

Residents at The Cabin range in age from 18 to 60 years old, but most come from “mid-high socio-income groups” and include a few trust-fund babies whose parents are footing the bill. The facility tends to have a “mainly Western” clientele with “slightly more men than women,” although some Middle Eastern and a few local Thai clients come here as well. Interaction with the broader Thai population is somewhat restricted, due to the “limited clients and huge working staff” associated with recovery groups.

The Cabin places great emphasis on routine. Using a method that combines cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and meditation with the 12 Steps and daily exercise, the morning consists of group sessions while the afternoon is filled with one-on-one counseling and various activities, including personal training and massages, both twice-weekly. A single group session takes place in the evening, after which residents work on daily homework assignments in the form of reading or step work. Curfew is at 9:30pm and lights out at 11:00. Despite the “very busy daily schedule,” one alumnus said “there was a lot of scheduled time to rest, reflect, and write.”

Off-site weekend activities are among the most popular aspects of a stay at The Cabin. Outings include going on elephant rides, whitewater rafting, rainforest walks, and snorkeling at the Chiang Mai Zoo Aquarium. Focus also is placed on community service, and optional activities include working at a local orphanage. “They introduced going into local villages to help with construction projects, as well as inspirational ventures that helped you try and get back into life again,” said one alumni.

Wi-Fi is available before breakfast and in the evenings, while phone access is limited to a paltry hour on Saturday afternoons. Depending on who you ask, rule infractions are handled with “tough love” or “zero tolerance.” The Cabin takes the approach of addressing individual rule infractions in a group setting and “examining your behavior as a community for all the clients to give their view.” However, several clients accused the “very strict” staff of unfairly handling rule-breakers. “If someone abused a privilege, they would just take it away from everyone,” grumbled one past resident.

Despite displeasure with some staff, most alumni praised the “friendly and helpful nurses” who are on-site 24/7, as well as the vast knowledge of the primary psychiatrist, Dr. Suttipan Takkapaijit. Although medical doctors are not in residence, they are on-site daily. However, one alumni recommended that those who require detox do so elsewhere. “I had a terrible time detoxing as they decided to give me nothing,” she said.

Most of the former Cabin residents The Fix spoke to have been able to maintain their sobriety since leaving, and some have even maintained communication with staff members since their departure. “I developed self-awareness and acceptance, moments of insight, and a spark of joy for life was ignited,” said one satisfied customer. “I left with the resources for relapse prevention, continued self-development, and spiritual growth.”

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