Today I was asked by a friend if I had ever been to a treatment center for my addiction to alcohol and prescription medication. He has a friend who is in need and wanted to know if rehab centers have any benefits to them.
With the rise in addiction in society their has been an influx of commercials and advertisements for new treatment centers. I must say I am ignorant when it comes to these newer centers and do not know what type of treatment they offer. Some of these new treatment centers to me look like resorts that promote relaxation and a vacation type atmosphere.
When I decided I needed treatment I did my research on different centers and talked to people that have had long time sobriety so that maybe they could help me with the process of finding the right treatment facility.
I made the decision that Sacred Heart in Memphis, MI was the facility I would check myself into. The first day I walked into the facility was November 25th, 2011.
Before I explain further I must strongly suggest to anyone that treatment only works if you are willing to be treated. Like so many other addicts, I thought I did not have a problem. I could handle controlled drinking and prescription pill use, so I thought.
Truth is, I was spiraling out of control and all I could think about was when I was going to get my next drink or pop my next pill. I planned my day around my using back then and hid it from everyone, so I thought. Sure, I would go months without drinking when I was younger and I could say, “Look, I don’t need to drink, I got this.” I had totally convinced myself that I did not have a problem. People think you are lying to them but in my mind how could I be lying if I truly believed I did not have a problem.
The progression of the disease of alcoholism and addiction is extremely fast. After awhile it is a drop of a roller coaster and this disease of the mind takes over the frontal lobe, leaving the mid-brain (the rational part) out of the decision making process. The frontal lobe of an addict/alcoholic is extremely active and it wants, what it wants, when it wants it. After that first drink I can not guarantee my actions and for so long it controlled me and it still would control me because I will always be an addict/alcoholic.
It is a disease just like cancer is a disease. Alcoholism can always be in remission if treated and their are many programs for addicts/alcoholics. AA is a great program for people and is a global fellowship that has helped millions of people stay in recovery. My only concern with AA is the anonymity of the program.
I do understand that AA is a very old program and back then the stigma of being an alcoholic, especially if you were a woman could have had you committed to an asylum. Nobody understood alcoholism and most people thought it was a decision. Addicts/alcoholics aren’t responsible for their disease but they are responsible for their recovery, which I am a firm believer in that.
In treatment I met people from all walks of life. You see, many people have this ignorant vision of what an addict/alcoholic looks like. Many think that it is the homeless person, standing in front of the liquor store, paper bagging it and begging for money.
Well would you have guessed it, I met teachers, doctors, nurses, athletes, grad students, musicians, and executives? It’s true, this disease does not discriminate and I have met people from all walks of life effected by addiction; whether their drug of choice was alcohol, heroin, HGH, crack, opiates, it didn’t matter, all these people were afflicted and suffered. Some worse than others but still had no control if left to their own devices.
This disease is of the mind, alcohol and other drugs are just symptoms of the disease.
After I made it through the detox wing of the treatment center, which let me point out is the worst 3-5 days of painful physical withdrawals you can ever imagine.
I walked into the facility not knowing what to expect. My father and sister took me, waited with me until it was my time for me to be checked in. I was asked a lot of different questions about my previous use, blood and urine samples were taken and then I was searched for anything that Sacred Heart deemed against policy to have i.e. drugs, condoms, cell phones, any other forms of communication.
I was told I would be in the detox wing for up to five days but was only there for three. I was woken by a nurse a couple times a night so my blood pressure could be checked.
The week prior to admitting myself into treatment I was suffering from extreme physical withdrawals and hallucinations. More alcoholics die from detoxing than other drug addicts, even heroin addicts. Alcohol is very dangerous to come off from.
You see I was not in trouble with the law, I did not go to treatment to get out of jail time like some I met in treatment. I also was not being forced by anyone else. I went to treatment because if I had not admitted myself I was not going to be alive much longer. It is a person’s willingness to get help that often leads to the success of any treatment or outpatient program. Courts can’t force you to stay sober, family can’t, only the person afflicted with the disease can.
After my 3rd day I knew I was going to meet my “Big Brother” who they assign to you from the residential wing to help you move into your room, show you where the laundry and other necessary housekeeping issues can be handled. They also introduce you to your group which consists of about 10 other patients. While I was there at Sacred Heart the house (facility) had about 150 people on any given week.
The house meets every morning for a hour and then again at night for another hour. Roll call was taken really seriously morning and night. Every patient is expected to make their bed every morning and to have a clean room daily.
Maybe like me, many addicts/alcoholics as they progress more deeply into their addiction worry less and less about things like good hygiene, a clean house, and basic responsibility. My treatment center was very much into teaching responsibility and normal daily life duties.
I met my counselor the first day of residential and her job was to help diagnose me and help me choose classes and homework assignments through my 30 day stay at Sacred Heart.
I did not want to ask for help, I did not want to talk about my life and what I had been through. For so many years I bottled up so many things that I have said and done to hurt people. Letting it out to a stranger sitting across from me, separated by a desk I felt already separated and not at all connected.
This is where the willingness had to come in, I had to remind myself that I have tried to do it my own way for so long and that took me deeper into the abyss. I am a dual diagnosed patient. Not only dealing with addiction but also mild depression and bi-polar tendencies. That three headed monster was coming to light during my stay in treatment and wisely took a dual-diagnosis course during my stay.
I met the rest of my group (Group 6) and we had daily meetings, once with our assigned counselor together and once a day for just us. I learned not to compare myself with other addicts/alcoholics but to identify and identify I certainly could.
In my treatment center their were rules about fraternizing with the opposite sex which was pretty closely monitored but extremely hard to totally control.
You see for many, you take away one addiction and immediately you replace it with another addiction whether it’s coffee, sweets, sex. Some people were kicked out for some obvious relation situations. Sometimes the attention is what an addict/alcoholic seeks if they can’t have their normal drug of choice.
I myself remember being very close with a woman I could relate to so much and I found myself with questions about my agenda and that can happen for addicts/alcoholics that seek that attention and approval. She ended up staying for 5 days and leaving and I still often think if she is ok.
After my stay I did however learn of a good friend I met there and that she did pass away from the disease and still often think of her to this day.
My facility had a church within it, along with a wonderful cafeteria, gymnasium and workout facility. Pretty much from 6 a.m. to the late evening you have things to be doing which 95% are required.
By the time my 30 days were close to being up the house had nearly all turned over, I was one of two other people still there from the first day I walked through the doors.
You get attached to some of the people you meet, you collect phone numbers, emails, you think you will, or at least I thought I would keep in touch with the same people after I got out. Well only about 5% of the people make it on the outside.
Well, I was taking notes, I mean I went to college “I got this studying thing down,” I said. The problem with that thought process is not much really but I still had to have the willingness to stay sober after I was released. I spent my Christmas Day at Sacred Heart and was released December 26th, 2011. It was the first commitment I followed through with in more time than I can remember
Truthfully I did not want to leave. When I first got there I did not want to be there because of the horrible pain of rediscovering feelings and experiencing life for the first time in years. After awhile the walls are almost a haven of comfort and safety. I felt at home with other addicts and alcoholics. I began to question whether or not I could make it on the outside, how could I face life on life’s terms without trying to self medicate myself.
Relapse is not a requirement. A person does not have to experience relapse at all, they do not have to admit themselves into numerous treatment centers, they don’t have to kill themselves with the slow death that addiction allows.
Admitting I was an addict/alcoholic was hard for me but what was harder was a willingness to surrender to the disease. The white flag of surrender was not an option. Oh but it was the only option to live for once in my life.
Do I tell you I have been recovered since December 26th 2011? I can’t do that. For once in my life, honesty has set me free. I stayed sober another 60 days after that and decided that life was not cooperating with me. I stopped going to meetings and I picked up where I left off and couldn’t make it more than a few weeks at a time.
To answer my friend’s question. Does treatment have it’s benefits? Well, from my personal experience it was some of the best education I have ever received and maybe because I was willing to be a student of what has worked for so many people that are recovered today. Treatment gave me the tools to get up and not give up, not play victim, not blame everyone else for my character defects.
I recommend treatment to anyone who has hit rock bottom or at least sees the bottom. I was not rock bottom yet but I could see the bottom well enough to take action. I have since hit rock bottom and recovery is beautiful.
Benefits of treatment are revealed to the willing and they will reap the rewards of life and not just an existence.
Room 361B (November 25th – December 25th)
This epidemic of addiction can no longer be swept underneath the carpet. I respect people anonymity but I am not anonymous. I do nothing to rid society of the stigma of addiction by staying anonymous.
For more information on Addiction Study I encourage everyone to purchase the “Pleasure Unwoven” DVD from – http://pleasureunwoven.com/