When he ambles on stage with his raffish grin to headline Hong Kong's Clockenflap festival on November 28, Pete Doherty's hour in the limelight will - on the face of it - represent a remarkable story of redemption.

A little more than a year ago, the 36-year-old British singer-songwriter was consuming enough heroin to kill himself. Then came a life-saving three-month stay at a coastal rehab clinic 160km outside Bangkok, Thailand.

Pete Doherty during his rehab in Thailand

Thanks to a mixture of methadone, yoga, exercise, therapy and willpower, Doherty slowly weaned himself off heroin. The site the clinic stands on is owned by a former Thai minister of transport, Dr Sribhumi Sukhanetr, who collects military memorabilia; it was inside a decommissioned Vietnam war-era plane that Sribhumi installed on the clinic's grounds that Doherty began writing new songs for his band The Libertines.

As the music took shape, members of his group - including co-frontman Carl Barat - flew out to join Doherty; in Thailand, they began recording their first new tracks in 11 years.

Subsequently, Doherty checked out of the clinic, and recruited one of its counsellors to help keep him clean.

The music industry welcomed him back with open arms.

In June, The Libertines were announced as the surprise headline act at Glastonbury, taking the Friday night slot vacated by Florence and the Machine. Three months later, their comeback album, Anthems for Doomed Youth, was released to critical acclaim.

Doherty's appearance this month in Hong Kong, then, should be a cause for celebration. A man once hailed as the brightest hope for British rock - a former boyfriend of supermodel Kate Moss, who was once rarely out of the British tabloid newspapers - is back from the brink of self-destruction, back with his band and back on form.

But one man closely involved in Doherty's journey says he cannot bear to watch The Libertines return to the stage.

"I shudder when I hear his name," says Simon Mott, with an affectionate laugh. "I couldn't watch his performance at Glastonbury - I'd cringe. He's a wild man, basically, and a bit of a nightmare to deal with."

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Mott is a British former addict and founder of the Hope Rehab Centre in Si Racha, where Doherty was treated. The pair became friends while Doherty was in rehab, and Mott says the rock star was consuming 3.5 grams of heroin a day before he sought help at Hope in October last year - more than any other client he had treated for heroin addiction.

Incredibly, while Doherty was undergoing treatment, fans tried to post heroin to him in Thailand.

"On two occasions, we intercepted drugs we had to destroy," Mott said in January. "It sickened me that there are such disgusting people out there who would go to such lengths to sabotage his treatment.

"When I threw the package into the fire, I could smell the familiar stench of burning heroin, something I hadn't experienced since I stopped using it myself 12 years ago. Whoever did this has a warped mind."

Doherty, however, was not impressed.

"He said to me, 'You got that heroin and burnt it, you b******. I was waiting for that.' He told me, 'You f*****, you burnt my smack,'" Mott says.

Doherty did, however, manage to wean himself off heroin, apart from one relapse two months into his programme last December, when he visited Bangkok with his bandmates.

Mott fears similar episodes could occur now Doherty is performing in Hong Kong, as part of a worldwide tour.

"He did really well for a while," says Mott. "He was heading in the right direction but as soon as he left, he didn't stand a chance and we knew it. He carried his bags away and we knew he didn't have a chance.

"He has huge deals being thrown his way and he's taken on a massive tour. I mean how the hell was he going to do that clean? He is really scared to go on stage - terrified is the word he used. One of the reasons he uses drugs, and there are a lot of reasons, is that it helps him manage that fear.

"He needed to look at a different way to approach his career. I just don't think festivals and touring are a good idea in the first year of recovery. Recording is OK but not touring."

Whatever lies ahead, Doherty's success in overcoming his addiction - at least, temporarily - is credit to the unorthodox regime at Hope, which allows its clients the freedom to come and go at their leisure, and to take weekends away, and uses exercise including Thai boxing, tai chi and cycling as major parts of its therapy.

In a series of video interviews with counsellors at the clinic, forwarded to Post Magazine by Mott, Doherty - dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, and looking relaxed, healthy and a bit tubbier than he was during the grip of his heroin habit - spoke frankly about his fight with addiction and his delight at writing and performing songs while sober, saying he felt "blessed" to have survived.

"Long before drugs, it was music that would raise my spirits or just make me want to live or believe in something," he said. "It's a great new drug, being clean. It's not really a drug at all - it's finding myself.

"Drugs don't make you more creative and one of the great things about being clean is that I'll be able to fulfil that side of things … I feel as if something inside me is shifting. It is almost against my better judgment. But my better judgment has got me in [trouble] more often than not."

Mott opened Hope in November 2013 with his Thai girlfriend and business partner Alon Kunsawad; the pair met while working at The Cabin, a high-profile rehab clinic in Chiang Mai where Mott's clients included British television presenter Michael Barrymore, who he describes as "a lovely bloke - so quick-witted and funny and poignant".

Kim Pascoe, a Hong Kong-based addiction counsellor with the Psynamo clinic, in Central, worked at Hope for a month earlier this year, after Doherty's departure. She believes the facility's relaxed atmosphere is conducive for recovering addicts.

"Most of the people who go to Hope are at rock bottom and may not have travelled outside of their home countries before. They may be feeling desperate and are not sure what to expect, which can be quite daunting," Pascoe says. "Some have tried conventional rehab in their home countries but they left or didn't like it. This alone shows the conventional way doesn't work for everyone.

"At Hope, there is an element of freedom and trust, but clients know the boundaries. They don't have a feeling of being institutionalised. That can be quite demoralising when working towards recovery and it can have a negative effect."

As Doherty put it in one of his video interviews: "There isn't really an awful lot to distract you here. It's tranquillity itself."

He also described how clients are "bundled into a car at Bangkok airport" on arrival to prevent them from checking into a hotel in the capital, as he had been tempted to do.

Treatment at Hope costs US$8,000 for 30 days. As well as accepting the odd celebrity client, the centre specialises in treating crystal meth - or Ice - addicts from Australia and nearby territories, including Hong Kong.

Perhaps influenced by his contact with such addicts at Hope, one of the standout tracks on Anthems for Doomed Youth is Doherty's Iceman, which includes the line: "Don't spend your days in the haze with the Iceman/Cos it means nothing at all."

Ice, says Mott, is a huge problem across Asia.

When he checked out of Hope last December, Doherty's managers recruited Dylan Kerr - head counsellor at Hope - to accompany the singer on tour. Kerr will be with Doherty and his bandmates when they play in Hong Kong on Saturday.

Speaking after Doherty's treatment at Hope, Kerr said in a statement to British news outlet MailOnline: "We saw Pete grow over the course of his treatment at Hope, which was reflected in his new-found interest in nature, spirituality and positive creativity.

"Pete had a one-off slip during the course of his treatment, which served to help him understand how vulnerable he is in the outside world. After conquering a long and difficult detox it was wonderful to see the real Pete emerge with colour and a smile to his face, instead of a wasted, sweaty, yellow jaundiced pin cushion.

"We are painfully aware of the pressures he will be going out into the world with. The expectations on him are massive, possibly even unreasonable and unrealistic. I really wonder how he is going to maintain his recovery with so many people pulling at him from every direction."

Indeed, Doherty has displayed some erratic behaviour recently including tunelessly trying to serenade a football star on Sky Sports TV show Soccer AM in September (a viewer tweeted afterwards that Doherty appeared to have "lost the plot") and a brief disappearance later that month which led to the cancellation of a gig at London's Electric Ballroom.

"Dylan says Pete is a 90 per cent success," said Mott. "Ninety per cent is not bad. That means he gets to most gigs on time. He is able to perform and there are no calamities. It means they've fulfilled their contractual obligations and Pete has held it together and performed most of the gigs in a fair state and on time."

Mott, however, dislikes the pressure Doherty's management put on the star.

"Pete didn't want to go back on stage. He said he wanted to approach things differently. He said, 'I know I will end up using again.' He had other ideas. But, of course, they said, 'No, out on the road with you.'" Doherty's spokesman, Tony Linkin, said neither Doherty nor his management would give an interview to Post Magazine.

Doherty and Mott remain in touch.

"He rang me the other week asking if he could come back with his girlfriend," Mott laughs, adding that he wasn't sure if the singer was in need of treatment or a holiday.

"Maybe he wants help. Maybe he just wants a break," says Mott. "I will always have an open door for him."

Red Door News Hong Kong

 

A Hong Kong addict's story

"I really did seem to have it all as a child: an amazing family, a loving older brother and incredible parents. My memories of my childhood in Hong Kong are of sunny days spent on the beach, surrounded by friends. Looking from the outside in, it seemed pretty perfect. But I was going through a horrific trauma and decided the best way to deal with it was to keep my mouth shut.

"I experienced sexual abuse between the ages of five and nine. I was full of shame. My dress sense changed. I thought if I looked like a boy and made myself unattractive the abuse would never happen again.

"I went on to self-destruct. It started with an eating disorder and then developed into self-harm. I struggled to talk to teachers or friends about it - I was too ashamed to admit the truth.

"By the age of 13, I was hanging out on the beach, drinking and smoking cigarettes and weed. I would turn up to school just to be with my friends, but also to skive off to meet my boyfriend, who had been kicked out for dealing and taking drugs.

"By this time I was 17, and I was already falling deeper and deeper into the depths of addiction. I took heroin and the moment I tried it, I lost the choice to put it down - it was that powerful.

"Things got progressively worse. My parents found out about the drugs and I was kicked out. I lost the opportunity to go to university, as I'd decided that it was far more important to become a heroin addict than anything else.

"My best friend overdosed one night on the side of the street, and my priority - instead of saving her - was to strip her down to get her drugs before the police or an ambulance turned up. Nothing was more important than my next high. My friend didn't make it but even that wasn't enough to stop me.

"I put myself in dangerous situations in order to get drugs. I fell pregnant when I was gang-raped by three men while I was on drugs. After that I tried to get my life together and succeeded for a while. I had 10 years clean between the ages of 24 and 34.

"I became a fashion designer, living all around the world and experiencing amazing countries and people. I taught myself everything I needed to know so that I could be the best I could at my job.

"At the age of 34, I started using drugs again. I'm 41 now, and still battling this horrific disease. What I realise now is that, since I was a child, I've been running away from me - from how I felt and from what I experienced. It has taken me 16 treatment centres and being surrounded by caring and professional people to understand this.

"I came from a loving family; I grew up with the world at my feet, and I never thought for a moment that I'd end up like the junkies I saw begging on the street.

"My life is not what I ever imagined it would be, but I'm alive today. I shouldn't be here. I've ended up in comas, I've overdosed and I've been in car crashes. I've done things to my body that I'm not proud of. I've lost many friends through this disease, but I haven't lost myself. Being here and being given another chance has given me a willingness to fight, but more importantly it's given me hope."

This account was written for Post Magazine by a Hong Kong-born British fashion designer who is being treated for heroin addiction at the Hope Rehab Clinic (www.hope-rehab-center-thailand.com), in Thailand. People seeking help with addiction issues can contact [email protected] for advice on rehab clinics in Hong Kong and overseas.