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Why Middle Easterners Prefer
Drug Addiction Treatment in Thailand

Finding drug addiction treatment in the Middle East is a major challenge due to cultural misperceptions and strict legal penalties in the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region. These drawbacks have propelled both native Arabs and expats residing in the Arab world to seek out addiction treatment in Thailand. With a strong global reputation for high quality, confidential, and affordable rehab, as well as a holistic approach to addiction treatment, Thailand-based rehab centres like The Dawn remain ideal destinations for a successful recovery for several reasons. 

Familiarity with and trust in Thailand’s medical services

Thailand is one of the world’s top medical tourism destinations, offering internationally accredited hospitals with state-of-the-art technology and highly-qualified doctors trained in the latest treatments and procedures. Historically, Middle Easterners are one of the largest groups that access Thailand’s medical services, with an estimated 58% of Thailand’s inbound medical tourists coming from the Middle East region.

Anonymity offered by a foreign country

Substance abuse, particularly of drugs, is still extremely taboo in many Middle Eastern societies. Seeking treatment abroad allows those ready for recovery to do so privately, without further risk to their work or personal relationships.

Affordable costs

The Thai government has prioritised making the country a global centre for medical tourism by introducing investment initiatives that promote quality and innovation at a fraction of the price it would cost abroad. This means drug rehab Thailand cost less than half the price of similar treatment in the Middle East or the West.

Serious legal penalties

Fear of legal repercussions is another reason Middle Easterners seek addiction treatment abroad. Though some authorities are trying to reassure addicts that by turning themselves in proactively they will be given treatment and not a prison sentence, there are still deeply embedded fears about harsh legal action taken over substance posession. 

Limited in-country treatment options

As many countries in the Arab world have relied on a punitive approach to reduce or stop drug use, there are limited private treatment options for those looking to overcome addiction. Government-run treatment centres tend to use a psychiatric approach to recovery, meaning that patients will go through detox and then be treated with medication, rather than following up with psychotherapy to get to the root causes of their addiction.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs in the Middle East

Longstanding stigmas around drug and alcohol use have limited research conducted on these issues in Arab countries in the Middle East, but it is estimated that there are around half a million drug users in the region. Common profiles of users seeking treatment are men ages 20 to 35 native to the area and generally from an upper middle to upper income bracket. Both addiction specialists and researchers are uncovering increasing rates of female drug use as well, which could be reflected in treatment statistics in the coming years. Some of the most commonly abused drugs include:

  • Methamphetamine (such as Crystal)
  • Amphetamine (such as Captagon)
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine

Alcohol Use

While statistics on alcohol use in the Middle East remain difficult to pinpoint, some studies have shown concerning levels of consumption. One 2014 study revealed that drinkers in the UAE were consuming nearly twice the global average in alcohol, followed closely by Qatar and Bahrain.

Who Are The Dawn’s Middle Eastern Clients?

Since The Dawn first opened its doors in 2017, our renowned rehab and wellness centre has seen a steady flow of both native and expat clients from UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Israel, as well as Middle Easterners living abroad. Our Middle Eastern clients are typically aged 25-44. Around 60% are men and 40% women. Approximately two-thirds come seeking drug addiction treatment in Thailand and the mental health conditions that co-occur with addiction – such as alcohol and depression treatment. While one-third come to address mental health issues — such as inpatient depression treatment, inpatient bipolar depression treatment and other mood disorders.

Why Middle Easterners Choose The Dawn 

1. CARF and MOPH Accreditation The Dawn is  the only behavioural health treatment facility Asia-Pacific with CARF accreditation, the gold standard for rehabilitation centres in America, and accredited nationally by the Thai Ministry of Public Health (MOPH).

2. ConfidentialityOur highly-trained professional staff understands the need for confidentiality and anonymity during treatment, and The Dawn’s stringent policies and procedures regarding client information reflect this. 

3. Removal from Triggers – Our lush, tranquil property is an oasis of calm that is a world away from your triggers—the people, places, and situations that contribute to your addiction.

4. 24-Hour Onsite Medical Care – Our clinical staff is supported by an onsite professional nursing team with vast experience in handling drug detox and alcohol detox and psychological issues, and operate under the supervision of an experienced psychiatrist. 

5. Treatment of Co-occurring Disorders – At The Dawn, we recognise that there may be other issues underlying addiction, and specialise in identifying and treating co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

6. Personalised, Holistic Treatment – Our compassionate, experienced staff works with each client to develop a customised treatment plan that addresses the client’s specific needs, identifies root causes, and introduces a variety of coping mechanisms to successfully and sustainably manage the condition for a lasting recovery.

 7. TMS Treatment – The Dawn is the only residential depression treatment centre in Asia featuring a non-hospital environment to offer Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or TMS therapy for treatment of depression, bipolar and other depressive disorders  

8. Privacy in a Relaxed SettingThe Dawn is a beautiful riverfront sanctuary where clients can recover in a relaxed, cosy ambience and truly focus on their wellbeing. Each client is given a comfortable private room and access to resort-style facilities including a swimming pool, sauna, meditation studio, fitness and games centres, and WiFi.

Common Reasons Young Middle Easterners Turn to Drugs

An Arab Youth Survey conducted in 2019 reported that 57% of youth believed that youth drug use was on the rise. Common reasons given for engaging in drug use include:

Boredom, curiosity, and thrill-seeking

For some young adults, a lack of direction or interest in life can spur experimentation with drug use. This can also be compounded by curiosity or a sense of risk-taking. 

Sense of Entitlement

Particularly common among those from families with means, some users feel that they can do what they want, when they want—an attitude that can quickly fuel an addiction. This sense of entitlement can override warnings or concern from family or friends.

Family Pressures

Stress is a common predecessor for addiction, and some turn to drugs as a way to cope with pressure around their studies, work, or marriage. This can be especially acute for those who feel they have little control over making these decisions, and face high expectations in their performance.

Peer Pressure

In addition to pressures from home, the 2019 Arab Youth Survey showed that 62% of respondents thought that encouragement from friends at school or work played a key role in drug use. Many first encounters with drugs occur on a night out with friends or while exploring the party scene.


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