Through the Lens: Life and Politics in Asia

An Ex-Addict’s Journey from Bhutanese Prison to Thai Kitchen

One step at a time.

Bhutan’s health minister Tandin Wangchuk recently expressed serious concerns over the growth of drug abuse and trafficking in the Himalayan country of less than 800,000 people. Last year, at least 4,668 students, the majority of them from schools in the capital, Thimphu, were found to be abusing drugs, according to education minister Norbu Wangchuk.

Sonam (surname withheld) was one such student who tried narcotic drugs for the first time when he was a teenager. He soon ended up as an addict, and spent years in prison for drug peddling. In this video interview, held in Thimphu, Sonam speaks to The Diplomat about how he gathered the strength to recover from his addiction.

The 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program helped him in his journey to recovery. He is now a chef in Thailand.