- Mental Health»
Drug Rehab Center Experience
Drug and Alcohol Assessment
"Hi, my name is Chris, and I am an alcoholic." Yes, I have said these words. And yes, I went to a drug rehab center for alcohol dependency. You see, I had a problem coping with military life. I channeled much of my stress and anxiety with timely party sessions from ten to four at night (or in the morning if you want to be technical). Oh, and by the way, I also had to report for duty at 0600 hours every day of the week.
Needless to say, my drunken lifestyle caught up to me. I constantly showed up to work with a hangover. I was almost always late or even a no show, and my overall focus and concentration dropped dramatically. So, it didn't take long for my supervisors to react. After some evaluations, I was sent to the mental health clinic (which is just another way of saying, "Hey Chris, you need a psychiatrist.") In the end, the U.S. Air Force linked my alcohol abuse with coping for anxiety. Subsequently, I was sent to a drug rehab center in florida. It was Twelve Oaks to be precise and I remember the first day quite well.
Alcohol and Drug Rehab Center
Drug Rehab Center
Upon arrival at the drug and alcohol rehab center, I was sent to to the medical room. Once I settled in, the on-call nurse did the normal routine. She took my blood, checked my weight and height, collected stool samples, you know, all the good stuff. Then, as I was going through the motions, I saw something that I will never forget.
Let me first explain that this particular medical treatment facility was not the largest of all rooms. The detox room was literally connected to the processing area. On that particular night, an in-processing patient decided it get tanked before he admitted himself to rehab. And so, the doctors had to pump his stomach. That might have been the nastiest and scariest thing I have ever seen in my life! I couldn't look away. Ehhhhh. It wasn't pretty. If that doesn't turn you away from alcoholism then I'm not sure what will!
After that horrific sight they sent me to an evening rally (which happened every night), where all the patients gathered together and listened to the counselor of the day. The audience seemed massive, I recollect, and I was in complete shock. I thought to myself, "Wow, what the hell am I doing here?"
Drug Rehab Treatment
Oy the rules:
No leaving the premises.
No skipping meetings. They had a sign-in sheet for every meeting.
No staying out past curfew which was somewhere around 9:00 p.m. if I remember correctly.
No sleeping in.
No phone calls.
NO! NO! NO!
Next, there was the schedule. Everyday was the same day.
First you wake up, eat, have a morning exercise (walk, play sports, etc). Next there's the first meeting of the day. Then we had lunch followed by the second meeting of the day. After the meeting they gave us a little free time, then dinner, more free time, and then the big final meeting of the day. Then we would wind down and were in bed by 9 (or was it 10, I don't recall).
The next day was the same thing. The only change that happened was at the end of each week. Basically, you were sent to a drug counseling center where you had a one on one session between you and your personally assigned counselor to discuss your week's progress. Depending on the counselor's diagnosis, they may or may not have recommended other activities and techniques to help your healing process. The one thing they didn't do was provide drug addiction treatment such as prescription drugs and such. It was literally a drug free facility.
Looking back, it was the routine that kinda threw me off. The purpose, as I understood it, was to get the drug addicted mind back to reality to demonstrate what a little structure and a little sanity looks like. Honestly, I think the routine reminds the patient of the grind that the real world represents. However, it is the grind that makes us hate life. In turn, we want to unload and party on the weekends. It's the grind that always pulls at you and creates hardship and distress.
In this area, I believe rehab centers need to a new approach. Counselors need to provide something more constructive, interesting, and creative. They need to make life worth living. But hey, I'm not a drug and alcohol rehab manager. Anyway, there's my little rant, moving on...
Alcohol and Drug Evaluation Process
I think the most important part of the rehab experience, and of any experience for that matter, is the interaction between the people you meet. You can learn a lifetime of wisdom and knowledge from anyone, and Twelve Oaks was no different. There were so many unique characters that it almost felt like a script right out of a movie. There was the gay bartender who snorted coke in order to continue his drinking binge for hours and hours. Consequently, he was addicted to both drugs.
There was the young, blond coke addict who owned an escort service. Her plan was to act like she kicked the habit in order to gain her husband's trust. Then there was the sweet, middle-aged woman who talked to herself and was addicted to pain medicine. She was in obvious pain and had no idea why she admitted herself in the first place. She loved to play Scrabble and I must admit I played a game or ten and lost...often. I hate losing!
Anyway, there was another blond, this one tall, who was addicted to nearly everything and always talked about brewing her own 'moonshine' with the kitchen's potato stash that the facility seemed to have in ample supply. Oh, we may not have had milk, meat, or bread, but all hell would break loose if we didn't have those damned potatoes!
You see, that's the good stuff. With every story, there were stories within stories, and with that, told the whole story. While I was there I heard a counselor say that, "We [the addicts] are very intelligent. We are not only exceptional conartists to everyone around us, but we also deceive ourselves. We are f-ing brilliant!" I think that statement explained every single person in there, including myself although I had no idea why at the time. Moving on...
Like every living, breathing society, there were cliques or social groups among the Twelve Oak's patients. There were the cool groups who played cards and 'bones'. There were the sports people who played basketball and flag football, the jocks of the group. There were the crazy people who had no idea where they were. And, of course, there were the rebels who did whatever the hell they wanted even though it was against the rules, especially if it was against the rules.
I, being the blender of all blenders, tried to mingle with everyone. And that worked for about a week...Actually, looking back, I'm surprised it lasted that long. It seemed like every group didn't like something about another group. This odd feeling seemed to create constant tension and drama at every moment, creating gossip, so-called backstabbers, and ulterior motives. It was amazing, bizarre, and somewhat scary all at the same time. One minute everything was fine and calm, and the next minute people were screaming at each other at the top of their lungs. It was wonderfully horrific.
Drug Addiction Free
So, what did I gain from this whole experience? Of course, I did learn to live an addiction free life, or rather, how to live with an addiction. At the beginning, I was just looking to get out. I was thinking to myself, "28 days...that's it. I can do my time and get the hell out of here!" By the end, I created relationships that lasted 4 or 5 years after the experience.
I learned how to appreciate life and what people go through. Where people put themselves through hell and back and come out more determined than they ever thought possible. There were others that didn't make it. Sadly, you come to realize that they may never make it. You can see it in them. It hurts and it's almost difficult to comprehend, and as I write this, it's almost too abstract to explain or elaborate. I know it's painful and something 'you' have to witness in order to fully appreciate it.
For the first time in my life, I learned that life was serious. I had always looked at life from a very sheltered point of view. This experience definitely broadened my little world and it's something that I'll forget...Ever.
Thanks Twelve Oaks!