Many visitors who come to Thailand will party hard during their trip. Tourist locations like Pattaya are crammed with hundreds of bars, and it is usual to see visitors drinking at any time of the day or night. There is also the fact that alcohol is relatively cheap in Thailand when compared to other parts of the world. There is a great deal of temptation there for people who come to Thailand, and this is why so many will fall into problems related to alcohol use. Not everyone who comes to Thailand bothers with alcohol. In fact it is a wonderful place for those who want a sober holiday.
The expats in Thailand do have a reputation for heavy drinking. This might not be such a fair characterization because there are plenty of sober expats and those who only ever drink socially. The impression of the hard drinking expat develops because there are so many of them who live it the tourist areas where excessive alcohol intake is the norm. For many expats their social life does revolve around the bars.
Even those people who never had a problem with alcohol previously can fall into difficulties in Thailand. The reasons for this include:
* Many of the expats who come to Thailand will not have as many controls over their behavior as they would back in their home countries. They will be living in a land of strangers and this may mean that they feel less of a need to closely regulate their own behavior.
* Those people who come to Thailand to retire will usually have a great deal of free time on their hands. They may decide to spend this extra time in bars.
* Expats tend to enjoy spending time with other expats – particularly during the first few years. The place where most expats congregate is in the bars.
* Those who live in the tourist areas such as Pattaya or Phuket can feel like excessive drinking is permissible. This is because the holidaymakers who arrive will usually be in party mode and so an expat heavy drinker is not going to get much attention.
* Culture shock is well known phenomenon that impacts most expats once they have settled in for the long haul. Feelings of alienation are one of the most common reasons for why people turn to alcohol abuse.
* Expats in Thailand can get periods where they feel incredibly lonely. They may decide to drink their way through these difficult emotions.
* Those expats who live in rural parts of Thailand can feel particularly isolated and drawn towards alcohol as an escape from this. Even those who speak relatively good Thai may find it difficult to talk in depth about their problems and concerns.
* There are people who come to Thailand with the intention of drinking heavily. For example, those who have hit retirement age may feel that they have earned the right to do so.
* High functioning alcoholics are able to control their behavior to a certain degree back in their home countries. When they are on holiday they struggle to maintain this control.
There are some real dangers for expats who develop alcohol problems in Thailand:
* If people develop an alcohol problem in their home country there will usually be a safety net of family and friends to intervene. There is usually far less of a safety net for expats in Thailand.
* There are fewer resources available for people looking for help with a drink problem in Thailand. This means that people may use this as justification to carry on with their descent into addiction.
* Many of those expats who develop alcohol problems in Thailand will be of retirement age. This means that their body will be far less able to handle the abuse than somebody younger.
* Alcohol abuse leads to disease and injuries. Those people who do not have adequate health insurance may find themselves in real trouble if they need medical assistance in Thailand.
* Alcohol is relatively cheap in Thailand so people will be less controlled by financial constraints. Those who are prepared to drink Lao Khao (the local moonshine made from rice) can get drunk for just a few dollars a day.
Many of those who come to Thailand on holiday will drink more alcohol than they normally would do at home. When people are in a foreign country, where everything appears exotic and new, it can also give them a sense of invisibility. They will take risks that they would not normally take. There are definite dangers to excessive drinking in Thailand including:
* It is not necessary for people to drink excessively for a long period of time before they start doing damage to their body. Just a few days of heavy drinking can put people in the early stages of alcoholic liver disease.
* Excessive alcohol intake can complete ruin a holiday. If people binge drink they may spend their trip either with a hangover or drunk.
* If people get sick or injured in Thailand because of their alcohol intake they could be in real trouble. There are some world class hospitals in Thailand but these are focused in the urban areas – it will also be necessary for people to have plenty of money or good travel insurance to get access to the top medical treatments.
* When people are inebriated it encourages them to act impulsively and behave badly. This could put the individual on the wrong side of the law in Thailand and dealing with the police in a foreign country is no fun at all.
* In the majority of instances where foreigners run into problems in Thailand it is usual for alcohol to be involved.
* There are so many wonderful experiences to be had when people holiday in Thailand, but if they overindulge in alcohol they will be missing out.
Despite Thailand’s reputation as party central, there are many tourists who visit with no interest in bars or getting inebriated. These individuals do not find that choices are limited by not drinking. In fact they are able to use that time that others spend in bars really getting to explore the country. This is not to claim that drinkers are always having an inferior experience, only that it is certainly possible to have a wonderful holiday in Thailand while staying completely sober.
There are plenty of sober things to do in Thailand including:
* Some of the greatest meditation masters in the world live in Thailand. This makes it the ideal destination to learn this practice that can benefit people physically, mentally, and emotionally.
* Those people who come to Thailand also have the opportunity to learn the devastating martial art of Muay Thai. This is the Thai national sport so there is no better place on the planet to learn it.
* Of course one of the great reasons to come to Thailand is to explore the country. It is much easier to do this when people are sober and don’t have a hangover.
* Those who take the time to learn the Thai language will develop a much deeper understanding of the local culture. There are plenty of classes available for people who wish to learn the language and delve more into the local culture.
* Thailand is a top destination for water sports of all kinds.
* If people want to take home a useful skill then it is highly recommended that they learn Thai massage.
* Thai food is renowned around the world for providing culinary delights. People not only get to enjoy this cuisine during their trip, but they can also get to learn how to make it.
There are a number of great resources available for people in Thailand who run into problems with alcohol including:
* DARA Alcohol and Drug Rehab is considered by many to be the top addiction treatment facility in Asia. People travel from all over the world to seek help from this rehab.
* Thamkrabok Temple is a Buddhist temple that offers an unorthodox approach to addiction treatment. This temple has helped many Thais and westerners who have failed at other treatment options.
* Alcoholics Anonymous is available in Thailand in the larger urban and tourist areas.