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Addiction Treatment for Expats Living in Asia

Having spent many years living in Asia myself, I’ve seen expats consume more than they should when it comes to substance abuse, certainly when we’re talking about alcohol. There seems to be a general feeling amongst expats that it’s acceptable to drink everyday – at any time!

Of course this doesn’t apply to all expats but there certainly seems to be a tendency to drink more when the sun is shining and the beer is cheap (depending where you live).


Are Asian rehab centres any good?

If you’re an expatriate living in Asia and you need rehab, you might be surprised at what’s on offer. It all depends where you live in Asia but with cheap flights and easy connectivity between countries, finding a decent rehab is perfectly possible.

In fact, in recent years the quality of treatment providers has increased to the extent that they are now on a par (or in some cases surpassing) rehabs in Europe and the US for recovery and completion rates. In addition, there’re also significantly cheaper and provide in most cases luxury facilities in a tropical location.

Some addiction experts suggest that some of the Asian rehabs are too much like a spa and not focused enough on tough treatment routines. I would personally prefer a non-medical treatment environment and if it happens to be in luxury surroundings with nice weather then why not?

The truth is that most rehabs in Asia are not just one big holiday; there’re also serious about rehabilitating you too. With daily therapy and activities designed to compliment recovery and sobriety there isn’t usually much time left over to relax on a sun bed next to the pool.


Caution is advised when choosing a rehab in Asia

Some countries can be a bit lapse when it comes to supervision of medical services and the legality of what some of them do can be questionable. Do they have a licence to operate and are they insured in the event of a crisis?

These aren’t the sort of thing you will see on the websites and marketing material. It really can be difficult to work out what really is the best option.

When we’re choosing a rehab destination, unless a doctor or psychiatrist has referred you to treatment, if you are doing your own research then be careful of what you are signing up for and ask a few questions. Some of the questions you should be asking are: What is included in the cost? What happens if it looks nothing like the pictures on a flashy website?

The same rules apply to all things everywhere but can you afford to lose $10,000-20,000 because you didn’t do your research properly. If you are just looking for outpatient treatment or some local counselling sessions then the risks are much smaller. If you don’t like your chosen therapist then you can simply choose another one – no big deal and not a big dent in your wallet.


What can be effectively treated at rehab?

Most rehabs around the world will treat addictions to drugs and alcohol but for other addictions and behavioural disorders it might be necessary to look into more depth at a treatment centres ability to help you overcome your addiction – it gets more complicated than this when you have multiple addictions co-occurring at the same time.

Other factors that a rehab facility should take into account when assessing your needs relate to co-dependency and detox requirements. This leads me onto what is perhaps the most important consideration when looking for addiction treatment anywhere.


How do they handle a detox?

In most cases where substance abuse requires a detox, a rehabilitation clinic or centre will have at least some capacity to prescribe medications where it is a medicated detox but detoxification is a serious business. Get it wrong or make a mistake with the assessment or diagnosis and you could face some serious problems (including death). One area where I do agree with some of the Asian rehab sceptics is on the issue of detox.

Whilst it might be pleasant to be on some remote island or in a tranquil countryside rehab centre, what happens if you have a medical emergency and the nearest hospital is 1 hour away and not even able to deal with a detox related health emergency?

The best advice here is too look at the options and whether medical staff are able to competently deal with serious withdrawal effects during a detox. Read the small print also, an English speaking doctor who pops in for a morning twice a week is not seriously going to be much use in an emergency situation. How qualified are these ‘doctors’ anyway. This said – there are still some extremely high quality detox services offered by some of the leading rehabs in Asia, whether in-house or in association with a local hospital.

If you need help finding addiction treatment in Asia, Addiction Friend can help you and put you on the path to recovery. We screen rehabs before we make recommendations and do our best to limit the potential to end up in a rehab that is not appropriate to your needs. Just ask us for help – its free!


  1. Thanks for the info. I’ve heard of a few rehabs that do good work but you never know who to trust! I’ve seen stuff about rehabs in Asia on the internet – Appears to be good info but maybe someone has some experience of these rehabs? – Please share your thoughts!

    • I went to a rehab in Thailand and i’m now clean and sober for nearly 1 year. It depends on the rehab you choose but I know of 2 or 3 in Asia that are world class at what they do. I think they will be more popular in the future also as they a lots cheaper.

  2. It’s so difficult to find rehabs in places you don’t know that well. I wouldn’t ever go into a rehab without contacting a company that knows the area and the reputation of each place. One of my good friends made the mistake of trusting some online reviews and went for a treatment into a rehab for 30 days. It costs him $12000 and it wasn’t what he was expecting. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. He said that the whole experience wasn’t worth more than $5000. He learned his lesson but at what cost?

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