Drunk (978-1-905379-69-9, Maverick House, 2010) has the subtitle “Saving
myself from Alcoholism in a Thai monastery”. Written by a young Irish
lad Paul Garrigan, it is the story of attempts to beat alcoholism, ending up
at the Thamkrabok temple in northern Thailand.
Author Garrigan begins his story at age seven, and it is
obvious with the hindsight that sobriety offered him, that he was a troubled
lad, even at that tender age.
He watched family friends becoming inebriated, but was
not turned off by this. “The message they (stories of alcohol binges)
instilled in me was that doing something particularly stupid when you’d had
a few drinks could make you the center of attention for weeks afterwards. It
was almost heroic.” And for the very young Paul Garrigan, being the center
of attention was something he aspired to, but his introverted personality
was such as to make that a very difficult task - but alcohol could overcome
Garrigan relates his past and how he gravitated to a hard
drinking young set, going from being an A student to one who drops out. Of
course, like all alcoholics, there is always a reason or an excuse for his
drinking. It is never the alcoholic himself (or herself). A favorite excuse
is what Garrigan calls the “Geographical aspect to my personality, moving
from place to place to escape the madness without realizing the madness was
inside my own head.”
The first two thirds of the book relate to Garrigan’s
slide into the abyss of self pity with intervening highs and lows and
dependencies upon various girlfriends, who all eventually give up the
unequal struggle. A confabulating alcoholic is an impossible person for a
life’s partner. However, the alcoholic can move from dependency to
aggressive behavior very quickly when cornered, and author Garrigan
describes his mood swings without (now) seeking to excuse himself.
The last third of the book deals with his experiences in
Wat Thamkrabok, a temple known in Thailand for its unorthodox treatment of
people with addictions, be that alcohol or other drugs such as heroin. It is
certainly no Butlin’s Holiday Camp. It was explained to the sufferer that
there was “…no talk of disease or an alcoholic gene. Instead the monk
explained how my addiction had been a tool which I had been using to cope
As part of the therapy at Thamkrabok there is the well
documented emetic administration, where the addict is given a herbal drink,
which brings on immediate nausea and vomiting. And this is projectile
vomiting. From then on, it is empowerment which hopefully is a lasting one.
A well written self examination, with the insight that
maturity and sobriety brings. At the time of writing this book he had been
sober for over one year, and he is claiming this to be the result of the
Thamkrabok treatment. He had, however, been sober for a two year period
earlier, so one hopes that empowered he can remain sober from now on.
At B. 520 in the local Bookazine, an interesting read,
harrowing at times, but one that does have social significance.