No Dogma Please
Join Date: Jul 2017
I was fortunate to have insurance that covered rehab. At the (hopefully) end of my drinking career I was up to five bottles of wine a day, drinking around the clock, on top of 3mg of Lunesta per night. My GP refused to continue treating me unless I agreed to a psych consult, where they told me it was extremely dangerous to do a non-medical detox, and that a five day inpatient detox alone would have an extremely high probability of immediate relapse. So the psych team strongly suggested a thirty day residential program.
She had told me to get a list of facilities, but I had already started shaking and was so incoherent, and ready to get out of there, that I Ubered home as quickly as possible so I could get a drink in me to stop the withdrawals. I had only had three glasses of wine before going so I wouldn't dry heave in the Uber on the way over, that's how badly I was addicted. I resisted for about three hours, until I almost fell down the stairs, then started making calls. Since I didn't have the info, I called the only place I'd heard of. They only did outpatient, but gave me three facilities. I called their top choice, and scheduled intake for two days later, May 9 of this year. That day I drank a very expensive bottle of Pinot Noir and got a ride to rehab.
Check in took a bit. They breathalyzed me and had me wait for someone to take me to my room. First person I met was someone else checking in who had already done her medical detox, she had been taking IV dilaudid. A woman came around the corner and started yelling at the pictures on the wall. She was coming off meth and was in full blown psychosis. Right before they took me to my room I met a nice man who was almost done with his rehab for meth...his 12th trip through. They took me to my room and by this point the withdrawals were starting in earnest. It was about two hours before they brought me some Valium, which was gradually tapered, along with the Lunesta, over a period of about 9 days. The detox itself was relatively comfortable. I was even able to eat a small amount of solid food late the next afternoon. They also gave me high doses of gabapentin for the anxiety associated with withdrawal and early sobriety. I also continued to take trazadone for sleep.
As I did my detox there instead of prior to checking in, my program total was to be 30 days. As my coherence and sanity returned, I settled in to the routine. Up at seven for back and front meds. Back meds were anything not addictive and not associated with detox. Front meds was where I got the Valium and Lunesta for the first nine days. Meds were called four times a day. After breakfast (the food was simple, but good, and lots of it) we had four meetings during the day, and a fifth after dinner. Most were 12 step based, and also included meditation, yoga, softball, and a five mile walk, all but meditation were optional. I also had two special groups, gay/lesbian and dual diagnosis (addiction plus mental health issues). Twice a week we met with individual counselors, who offered some psychotherapy and twelve step worksheets. Downtime for me was spent on Big Book and the first three steps, as well as a lot of time out in the courtyard, smoking too much and learning a shocking amount about drugs and criminal behavior. Most importantly, I formed strong bonds with others getting sober, many of whom I continue to see regularly.
Rehab was a very safe place, as there were no temptations and we were isolated from the world so we could rebuild our health and concentrate on our sobriety. Not all facilities are the same, but this one did not permit cell phones or computers. There were pay phones, and three hours to have visitors on Sundays. We also were required to make a sobriety plan, many people went on to sober living afterwards, as well as continuing care through intensive outpatient programs (IOP). I went home, but enrolled in an IOP that I'm halfway through, which is based on cognitive therapy rather than twelve steps. I also attend AA meetings and will start a course of psychodynamic therapy when finished with IOP.
Rehab looked nothing like how I'd anticipated. I thought it was going to be mostly alcoholics who would be doing rehab for the first time and then be done. What I found was not just alcoholics, but also people with marijuana, cocaine, heroin/opiate addiction, and any combination of the above. Very few of us were doing rehab for the first time. Many had been to jail for possession, trafficking, DUIs, prostitution, etc. I found all of this oddly fascinating, it was a whole world I'd never experienced, and I learned a tremendous amount of compassion for the suffering of others, and a lot of gratitude for things in my own life. It was a very positive experience, I actually liked rehab, and return when time permits for Alumni nights. I ended up staying an extra week.
Don't be scared. I cannot think of a better way to kickstart sobriety.