Amedical and nonmedical treatment for narcotic addicts: A comparative study from asia

Joseph Westermeyer

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14 Scopus citations


Narcotic addicts from Laos were treated under governmental auspices in two settings: A Buddhist monastery in Thailand, and a medical facility in Laos. Treatment at the monastery included “cold turkey” withdrawal, a herbal emetic, prayer and religious exortation. Treatment at the medical program consisted of methadone detoxification, care of associated medical conditions, counseling, education regarding addiction, and group discussions. Addicts voluntarily selected one of the alternative modalities. Cost per individual treated was $150 at the medical facility, and about one third that amount at the monastery. Those choosing the more traditional monastery program had an older mean age and included a greater proportion of females and ethnic Lao people. Expatriate Asians (an educated, urban group) and tribal addicts (predominantly non-Buddhist) were more numerous at the medical facility. Small differences were noted in addiction history between the two groups; these were probably due to the demographic differences between the groups. Follow-up evaluation on representative samples was conducted 6 to 18 months postdis-charge using abstinence as a criterion. Correction was made for regional differences in opium availability and cost. No difference was found in abstinence rates between the monastery and medical programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-211
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1979


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