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Well, as you all know, I started the Go Survival rehab program several weeks ago here in Koh Samui. I have one more week to go and I thought I’d give you an update regarding the program contents is and how I am doing. Before I launch into that, however, I would like to reiterate that I disclose this information to you and you alone since you are both close family/friends and have either suffered with me from my addiction and/or have provided support and strength to me before and after my decision to seek help. So, I want to make sure that you realize that confidentiality is supremely important to me. Please don’t share this with your friends (either if they know me or not), your girl/boyfriends, mutual friends of mine, siblings, parents…anyone. I am counting on you to exhibit both discipline and discretion in regards to this topic. Basically, only talk to me about this. Thank you.
The GS program platform consists of four (or five, depending upon your perspective) major planks:
Counseling to help identify those psychological issues from your past/childhood that cause emotional distress for which you manifest obsessive compulsive behavior and other self destructive behaviors to cope or anesthetize this pain. In addition to identifying these problems/issues, you learn and implement new coping techniques that replace the self destructive ones. Unfortunately, there is not a lot that can be done in this regard in the several weeks that I am here. Rather, this is a long term process that takes months/years and I REALLY look forward to settling into my new school environment and building on the progress I have made here in the few sessions I have had. The counselor here is an very intelligent (and attractive) British woman and we have successfully performed some emergency triage that I have found very emotionally balancing. In addition, she has provided some very useful insight into some persistent pain that has plagued me in the recent past.
GS detoxification transcends mere drug/alcohol detox. Rather, detox here means several weeks of colon, liver, and full body detoxification. The approach is holistic and includes herbal supplements (for the colon detox – no colonics or enemas, thank god), daily steam room (kind of crazy in the heat of a tropical island) to remove toxins sweat out toxins, daily Thai massage (an intense full body shiatsu – deep pressing along chi channels and joints) to remove years of toxic build up in the muscles and joints, and a fairly strict vegetarian diet with no caffeine, sugar, or processed foods, and lots of water. While some of the theory behind the detox program draws on New Age and Eastern philosophies, for the most part it is sound. For example, one major tenet of the program is that toxic residues from both poor diet (lots of fat, meat, dairy) and years of intense drug use remain in the body and cause future cravings. When someone radically changes to a more healthy diet and quits using drugs, the body attempts to rebalance the body to its old, toxic homeostasis…hence cravings. By riding the body of the toxic residues via diet, massage, sweating profusely, and herbal supplements, you help to eliminate the body’s memory of those toxins at the cellular level and you achieve a new, healthy balance. I am not sure I buy all of it 100% of the theories, but if even for the wrong reasons, the program is remarkably healthy and seems to work. I haven’t felt this good in a long time and my cravings for red meat, dairy, eggs, drugs and alcohol have significantly diminished and are now almost completely psychological. The GS program prescribes a new diet as a very important component of maintaining recovery since it is directly related to emotional balance (or imbalance which could induce relapse). For example, caffeine, sugars, red meats, and processed foods are eliminated since they contribute to a series of emotional highs and lows (imbalance). Drink a coke and eat a cheeseburger and be aware of how you feel in an hour, two hours and 6 hours and you’ll see my point. Again, there are some components of the theories behind the practice with which I have rational/western criticism, but again, if even for the wrong reasons, I believe that a healthier diet will intact aid maintained recovery….and it is healthier.
Environmental change. Obviously, the serene/pristine environment of Maenam beach on Koh Samui is an ideal place to "get away" from the pathology of the environments in which we became and perpetuated our addiction. The daily pace is slow and we are far removed from the clubs/bars of the more tourist beaches, much less the urban jungles or our homes. The fact that we are in an artificially secure environment is not lost on us here, and we make conscious preparations to return to our old environments. For example, during workshops we identify those components of our old environments that are particularly risky to the success of our recovery. These are called "Q" exposure and for me are bars, nightclubs, all-night raves, even concerts and other activities during which I used to drink/drug. So, in the beginning, I will have to avoid these places, things, and even people if they threaten my success. That is not to say, I can’t eventually return to these things when I am more secure and I have put some time between me and rehab, but for several months I will have to replace these types of entertainment with new ones. Fortunately we spend a lot of time in workshops identifying replacement activities. For me, writing, exercising, mountain biking, reading, and perhaps learning to play an instrument (I have long wanted to start taking lessons for something - I am thinking guitar or banjo…or drums or bongos, but I wanted to consult my brother Richard before I did regarding my inclination, perceived talent, and time requisite to become proficient since he is in several bands and is a long time musician). I also take comfort in the fact that I will be in a brand new environment soon after my return from S.E Asia and will be in a new city (where I will attend law school) and where I won’t have as much "Q" exposure.
Physical fitness, spiritual program, stress management/relief, and entertainment comprise the final plank. I would really call this two since the physical and spiritual components are so comprehensive in and of themselves, although yoga practice kind of bridges the two. Physical exercise has obvious benefits for both the mind and the body. We swim and do yoga daily here, and I have added my own regimen of push-up/sit-up/pull-up/calf-raises every other day. I am losing weight and become more fit, although my cardio fitness is a little behind. In addition, yoga has made me significantly more limber, and at peace in my mind. Part of the program includes making a schedule for exercise and yoga in our post rehab lives. I have decided to combine yoga, jumping rope, and the aforementioned calisthenics since I can do all of them on my own while traveling and cost nothing and require no special equipment. When home, I look forward to reincorporating biking and gym workouts into my schedule. When at school, I will combine weight training (I need a gym for this), cardio, and yoga into a weekly routine.
The spiritual component of the GS program revolves mainly around meditation and yoga (and/or tai chi), all of which are new to me. While I love the exposure to each of these things, my western rationality often precludes my complete reception to them. I am working on that negative trait. I have begun reading some Buddhist primers (not that I have any interest in becoming Buddhist, but rather, because there is a lot of useful information on how to become more spiritual) and digesting the concepts behind yoga and meditation, both of which I REALLY enjoy. Since I rejected Christianity as my religion as a teenager, I have had a tremendous spiritual vacuum in my life that drugs both attempted to fill, and made deeper. I am very excited to begin the process of becoming aware of my body, my spirit, who I REALLY am, and developing a deeper appreciation/awareness of my environment and my place in it. I have begun to rediscover who I am and become reacquainted with myself. This might seem like obvious or easy task, but for me, let me assure you, it is a profoundly difficult (and exciting) process. In addition to meditation and yoga, we learn breathing techniques and other exercises to deal with stress and how to become objectively aware of cravings (or the onset of irrational thinking or obsessive compulsive behaviors) and let them pass.
So, as you can see, the point of each of these elements (counseling, diet improvement, detox, dangerous environment identification and change, physical activity/sport, spiritual development, and stress reduction) is to reduce the triggers (both biochemical, psychological, and environmental) that caused/supported my addiction and replace them with better, more healthy substitutions, be they spiritual, physical activity, or new environments/entertainment. I find that this holistic approach combines the "keys" of other successful rehabs (like NA, AA, et al), adds missing elements (diet, exercise, counseling), and gets rid of the crap (for me the God elements, prescribing to a helplessness over addiction – screw that, I am going to beat it, and other distasteful components). I will, however, leverage NA/AA for meeting when I need/want support and to meet new friends with whom I can enjoy non-drinking/drugging related companionship.
So, while I know this is new for a lot of you (it is for me), and problematic for others, I request that you keep an open mind and understand that each of us has his own path in life (and recovery). I look forward to your continued support, love and input. I am feeling physically well and emotionally balanced and confident that I will succeed in meeting the many challenges that lay before me. Thank you for you understanding, confidentiality, and friendship.
I had seen drug abuse counselors before but I always felt they didn't have the understanding of what I was going through so therefore what they were saying didn't mean anything to me but Nino being a recovering addict himself knew exactly what he was talking about which in turn gave me the strength and belief the I could get better. So with that I started my journey toward recovery.
With the beautiful surroundings of Koh Samui and the healthy lifestyle Nino set for me I was feeling better everyday, I could honestly feel my body getting stronger and with the counseling my mind was also beginning to heal.
I will not pretend that everyday was easy, I was on an emotional roller coaster to say the least but with the constant support and understanding I was starting to realize that I could put my addiction behind me and get on with life.
The GoSurvival program gave me a wealth of knowledge of how I would have to live my life from that point on as it taught me that addiction is an on going problem that I'll have to deal with everyday but now I am stronger and don't need or want my life to be run by anything else but me. Nino put so much time and effort into my recovery you can really tell that this is what he is good at - helping other people. I am always in debt to him.
I had a pretty serious problem with cocaine and heroin since more 2 years, it was long time I was thinking to quit, but unable to do it, procrastination was a big issue, than I realized I needed help. I spent hours on the Internet searching for the right place : I live in Thailand since 15 years and here they haven't got the facilities for these problems as we have in Europe, so it was a very frustrating exercise. Just out of luck a friend of mine came back from Koh Samui with Nino's web site information : I looked at "GoSurvival" web site and I thought it had the right elements for what I had in mind. I wrote an e-mail to Nino and immediately I felt very comfortable with Nino' s ideas and the GoSurvival project, so after 1 week I was in Koh Samui living in the house next to Nino's. Since the first day we had a good understanding and we discussed openly the best options for me, than, I started with the chosen program.
Nino is a fantastic guy, a caring person and he respects other people' s space and different outlooks on life. He has helped me choosing the right activities for my problems, Qi gong, meditation, relaxation and Shiatsu and for the first time in years I felt my body and my energy back in the right place. I have also to comment on Nino' s selection of collaborators : I was surprise by the experience, the professional level and the humanity of these people. The results was fast and extremely positive, I had no pain and cope very well with the little physical and mental discomfort I had for few days.
Now, it ' s 6 months I've been clean, I look pretty again and friends can' t believe the change and best of all ....... I haven' to felt so good in long long time !!!
Thank you Nino.
Words have not been invented yet to express the feeling of gratitude towards that someone who one day decided to share his energy with other people in order to regain their own. Thanks Nino.
I’d like to share with you how I learned about this initiative in Koh Samui. I guess it all comes down to someone who felt one day it was time to make a difference, after having successfully kicked the habit of drug abuse. He decided to leave his lifestyle behind, did lots of research, gathered in-depth knowledge on best-known practices and methods and started a rehab program for people who took an unfortunate turn in life. A Belgian journalist of a national newspaper got wind of it and dedicated a full page article, describing the center in detail. The website mentioned in the article provided an answer to all possible questions and most importantly, seemed to offer the solution for a very special someone, close to my heart, struggling with an addiction. We got onto the site together and clicked away, to end on the “contact” button. We wrote a long email to someone somewhere in Thailand. Very much to our surprise, the reply was immediate and a guy called Nino gave us the personal attention and feedback we needed. Emails went back and forth and we met Nino during summer. He appeared to be a calm and caring person, passionate about his work, understanding of our worries and doubts. He listened and gave us clear directions, we felt we were in good hands. 3 weeks later was the start of a new program and early September a plane took off for Koh Samui, carrying in his belly a hopeful but troubled girl. She followed the road, however bumpy, that was pointed out to her, and has now found the strength to map out her own route, packed with the necessary guidelines to keep on going. A strong and healthy individual who has been able to turn her long lost dreams again very much into a reality. Phone calls and letters are now filled with positive messages, strong convictions and lots of smiles. Words have not been invented yet to express the feeling of gratitude towards that someone who one day decided to share his energy with other people in order to regain their own. Thanks Nino.
It was an honor and privilege to have been in the best rehab in the world for me.
It was an honor and privilege to have been in the best rehab in the world for me. It was exactly what you advertised it to be. You delivered.
I had known for years that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol, but never seriously considered rehab for many reasons. Besides the standard guilt/shame, chemical induced clouded thinking, and doubts about whether a sober life would infact be a better life, the main reason I delayed personal reformation was because I had too many serious issues with the twelve-step solution overwhelmingly prescribed for my addiction's). In addition to promoting beliefs I rejected, AA/NA and/or twelve-step programs provided only a point solution re: the cessation of using and failed to address the myriad underlying mental, physical, attitudinal, and environmental issues that caused and supported my chemical abuse.
After brief research, I stumbled upon the Go Survival program on the internet. I was immediately drawn to GS for several reasons. First, that it was in Koh Samui offered two obvious benefits: first, the tropical luxury and peaceful serenity of the island and second, I could camouflage my rehab within the context of a vacation to Thailand. More important to me than these initial benefits, however, was the holistic approach GS seemed to incorporate into the recovery process. For example, GS not only attacks the immediate triggers that cause and perpetuate addiction via new coping mechanisms and personal skills, it also attacks addiction via improved diet, spiritual edification, physical activity/health, alternative environmental/entertainment training, personal counseling and comprehensive bodily detox.
Having successfully completed the GS program, I can confirm that the holistic approach not only makes tremendous sense (as opposed to some of the twelve-step ideology), it makes a tremendous positive impact both in maintaining sobriety and in living a better life (defined liberally). The massages, yoga, meditation, diet, exercise (be it water-skiing, swimming, hiking, etc.), workshops, and limited counseling promote both lasting sobriety and profoundly improved lifestyle. Go Survival is not a magical cure and initiative, discipline, and effort are required to achieve success with the program. Nor is GS flawless in its ideology or implementation, but it is by far the most holistic, comprehensive and successful rehab program I have come across. It is working for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about making a dramatic life change and quitting drugs or alcohol.
"Nino, I wanted to thank you for my experience at GoSurvival. I am convinced that not only will this program work for me, it is the only one out there that would have. I am so glad to have found an alternative to 12 steps that is not only more holistic and complete, but that also makes sense and which I am glad (v. resenting) to adopt into my life. In addition, thank you for your patience, wisdom, and insight - and for creating GS. You rock. I owe you one, big time..."
Hi. My name is Tom and I just completed the Go Survival program. I am 47 years old and have been drinking pretty steadily for the past 30 years, sometimes more heavily than others, but always consistently. Drinking has always been an easy option to help me get through the bad times and also to celebrate the good times. Over the past several years however, the benefits that I realized from drinking declined significantly and it became obvious that I had a "problem". Alcohol abuse was seriously undermining my personal relationships and I felt more and more shut out from friends and society. I decided it was time to take action.
I researched the alternatives available both in the US and abroad searching for a program that appealed to me. Most programs only dealt with the detoxification and psychological aspects of substance dependence but Go Survival offered a holistic approach that also addressed my need for the physical and spiritual parts of my being. I was further drawn to the herbal cleansing offered by the program.
Though a sceptic my nature, I found that the Go Survival program delivered the goods. Getting away from the daily pressures of my everyday life and heading out to the tropical island of Koh Samui was the ideal situation to concentrate on taking care of myself. The program includes a mandatory regimen of exercise (yoga, swimming, walking/running), eating well, spirituality (meditation), behavioural workshops, and herbal detox. I had the time to reflect on what is important to me and how I want to live my life. Everyone has different needs and the program is both flexible and wholly supportive of each individuals’ concerns. Personally, I think it was the best decision that I have ever made and I would highly recommend the Go Survival program as an alternative to those seeking to stop Substance Recovery and make a positive change in their life. It has certainly changed my life and I look forward with eager anticipation to the next 40 or so years.
"I miss you big guy. Give my best to Dara and Arthit and the yoga/med gals. Hopefully, I'll be back to see everyone before too long. Take care my friend, Tom"
Tell Toon I said hi, as well for Pan and Phai. Tell Toon that I am continuing my meditation. That as well sort of threw the people on the ship. "Hey, what the hell is the captain doing sitting on the bow in the lotus position." It's cool though, I feel really good physically (exercising daily), mentally and spiritually. I also brought my Bible and have been reading that everyday. I started reading the four agreements yesterday - that's a good book. I plan on reading it a few times.
So yea, everything is on track. Thanks again for everything and opening my eyes to a lot of things, and bringing back to the surface many things that I had been suppressing in a locked drawer somewhere in my consciousness. Okay bro, I won't keep you all day. I know your busy. I hope it's going well with your new clients. I hope your getting some time with your son. He's a great kid. Take good care and drop a line when you can. I'll be in touch soon.
As things here get better and better, month, by month
How are you?
As things here get better and better, month, by month, i often think of you. do you remember when we had a little workshop while we were sitting at the gas station having your car washed? that was great. that said to me that introspection and a sense of humor can coexist. you helped me begin to trust in myself and the universe that day at the gas station! i don't even try to explain that to anyone here. so thanks a lot.
rock on, dude
Blessing on you. V.
I can hardly believe its almost 2 weeks since I left Koh Samui.
It has been a very eventful and active time - dealing with life from a new perspective and working on putting into practice all the knowledge I received during my stay with you.
I give thanks every day for the trust & intuition that led me to Ar An resort & the special, life saving care you provide for all the distressed souls who make the journey there. For me especially, the decision to come was the hard part of my journey. Once I arrived I knew it was the right decision. Not that I found the work easy, as you know! and from what I have subsequently understood, I wish I had been able to accept and reap more from it at times but I`m not buying into regret & guilt, just learning from it, I hope! The main thing is, I feel positive & strong in my 'new life' I love being drink & drug free & putting into practice the diet & life style stuff we talked about. I feel so full of happiness & energy & any difficulties I've experienced since my return are so much easier to handle, with the knowledge I received during my stay with you. I know I gave you a hard time at times. I apologize for that. I didn't know how else to deal with issues I had, hopefully now I have!
I was determined (for whatever reason?) not to write a "rave review" for publication but to tell YOU how deeply grateful I am to you and how much I admire you for what you are giving out - but heh, here it is - a "rave review"! Take it personally, or spread it over the internet Nino. If it touches a few more souls searching for survival I will be glad I have pointed out the 'Way to go'! Incidentally, I am telling EVERYONE about you & Gosurvival. Its not hard. I am living proof of the efficacy of your work.
The GoSurvival program, Nino, and his amazing staff, have helped me figure out the true meaning of life. Before coming to the Island , I was lost, suffering and abusing myself with drugs and alcohol daily. I felt as though I was on a roller coaster and couldn’t get off. I had pushed my husband as far as he could go, he was about to leave. My relationships with my children were suffering, the relationships with my friends and society were affected, but I was ignoring all these things, because when you are using, nothing else matters. I had suicidal thoughts and got to a breaking point where I knew something had to happen.
I had been to AA and knew that the 12 step philosophy was not the answer for me. I wanted a more holistic approach to recovery. I knew the answers and the strength were inside of me and I had to find a program that would help me discover and develop my own healing. I have always been interested in meditation, but I did not really understand how it worked and why it worked. When I began searching for a program, I became frustrated because everyplace seemed to be based on the AA approach. From the moment I saw the Go Survival website, I knew it was the place for me. Although I did keep looking to make sure it was the right place, within a few days, I had made all the arrangements.
When I arrived at the resort, I was not sure that I could make it through the program. I was anxious to get started and Nino kept telling me to relax. It took me a few days to figure out why Nino took that approach. I have never felt so at peace in my entire life. I never have felt so safe. My journey to recovery unfolded as the days passed. Although I did not plan on fasting during my stay, I got excited about truly cleansing my body and taking out the cellular memory that caused the cravings. After my fifth day on the Island , with Nino’s guidance, I began a fast. This was truly a euphoric experience and I believe it is what helped me reach the deepest part of my mind and body where the answers lied.
The Go Survival Resort is the most beautiful place on this planet and the support staff of Toon, Pan and Pfi are amazing. For the first time in my life, I am 100% confident that I will be able to stay sober. My body feels great and I have a whole new perspective on life. I finally understand my connection with the universe and the importance of staying grounded and peaceful. Nino gave me the tools I needed to practice sobriety in my daily life. I would recommend the program to anyone who wants to reach inside for the answers and is truly ready to heal. I plan on going back every year or so to fast and renew my commitment to myself. Thank you so much for the love, guidance and support. Nino, you are the best.
I miss the Island everyday,
Love and Light,