For those who have never had a drug or alcohol problem, rehab can sound like a frightening, far-off place. One where only so-called junkies and mentally incapacitated people go. However, the fact is, a rehabilitation center is a place of recovery for people in need of change. It provides a structured pathway for a renewed life and peace of mind after one’s substance abuse has taken control—if you’re ready to accept it.
It took me a good three tries before I finally got the change I needed from rehab. The first two times I went, I didn’t. Clearly, I wasn't ready to quit then. The pull of the drug was strong that I kept making excuses as to why I needed to go back to it. I wasn't able to break away from the people I had been hanging out with either—people who didn’t positively impact my life. I kept going in with good intentions, only to find myself craving the high once I got out.
I still hung out with the same people, indulged in the same destructive thoughts, and focused on the same weaknesses, only with a promise to myself that this time I wouldn’t get hooked. On the contrary, I always found myself right back where I started.
With Eyes Wide Open
Narcotic addiction is no joking matter. You need a daily fix just to be able to function normally. Without it, your body goes through withdrawals and you feel too ill to get up, move around, go to work, or simply function in a bearable manner. It affects every aspect of a person’s life. Every day when I was living in addiction, I got up compelled to do it all over again.
One catalyst that was instrumental in my quitting for good was learning that my younger cousin had overdosed. It came as a shock to everyone—she was only 18 years old at the time. My mother had come to me with the news and I still remember the fear and sadness I had felt the day I found out. It even made me feel guilty for being an addict.
At 21 years old, I found myself feeling sick and tired of being sick and tired. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep up with the full-time job of hustling for my daily fix, and I didn’t want to find out. I knew that there was the potential for a new start and a life that didn’t involve having to scrape up money every day for a drug meant to kill me.
This Time Around
I still remember the day I asked my father for a ride to the rehab center. I had just returned from seeing my cousin lying in a hospital bed, having suffered brain damage, and going through silent withdrawals. It was an image I’ll never be able to erase from my memory. I waited until my mother was out of town to help my cousin’s family get through what has happened. I simply couldn’t bear to tell her that I’d been using again, especially not a time like this.
I found my father sitting on the couch and, nonchalantly, I just asked him if he would bring me over to the rehab center. It was only five minutes away from home. He said nothing, but the look in his eyes told me he felt relieved and sad to be going through this again with me. I remember seeing him hold his tears back while quietly nodding his head to bid me goodbye as I walked through the door for what would become my final time in rehab.