FEATURE — On March 4, I spoke with a group of addicts and alcoholics in recovery at Lion’s Gate Recovery, and we spoke about our experience entering into residential drug rehab.
Some recovering addicts spoke about their first time in residential treatment while some of us spoke about multiple visits to drug treatment.
We feel that our experiences are the most valuable to those struggling with drug abuse and families searching for the answer to drug addiction.
We hope to guide anyone we can to find help with the process or stages of drug and alcohol abuse.
The majority of us were afraid of entering treatment for the first day. Even if we had been to addiction treatment before, another first day in drug rehab was demoralizing.
We could not count how many times we had been to drug and alcohol treatment and failed. We did not have the belief that rehab would work for us. We were terrified to change.
There is something about entering long-term drug rehab where we admit to ourselves, one way or another, that we have been living our lives the wrong way. Every time we have that first day of drug treatment, we are almost unconsciously saying to ourselves, “I still can’t beat addiction on my own.”
The anxiety that comes with that admission is overwhelming. We do benefit from the fear as much as it scares us. Addicts and alcoholics need desperation to realize how badly we need the help we get from drug rehabs like Lion’s Gate Recovery.
The fear we feel creates a sense of desperation. As one of us put it so accurately, we are “confined by suffering.”
We have been pushed to a point where we cannot take the punishment that active addiction and alcoholism brings on our lives. We all get to this point differently. This is the point where we walk through the doors of inpatient drug rehab.
Many of us abuse substances before this first day of drug treatment begins – or even the day of – yet to get there, we were constantly calling and trying to reserve our spot at the very chance to get better. As one would apply for a lucrative job or career position, we pursued drug rehab with the same tenacity.
Walking through the door on that first day took willingness and courage. Fear and desperation had finally led us to the moment we entered treatment. Some of us felt sick with anxiety, while others felt such relief. We wanted to feel welcomed on our first day of drug rehab. Most of us felt a warm welcoming environment.
From that moment, we could face our addiction with the committing act of walking through that door. This was the beginning of change. We couldn’t possibly know how difficult it could be to change our lives and, more importantly, how hard we were going to have to work. Inpatient drug rehab is no walk in the park.
We had to be vulnerable, uncomfortable and open-minded to changing ourselves. We had people we could count on, and the most important thing was we weren’t doing it alone. We found community and comfort with the other addicts and alcoholics in treatment.
We wanted something different for our lives. We addicts and alcoholics know what waits for us if we don’t change. Early graves, institutions, criminal records are the most common effects of substance abuse. Entering treatment is in a way an acknowledgment of that fact.
Our act of commitment to change is always better than the alternative. It may take us multiple attempts to get it right, but for most of us, we don’t want to die. As grim or morbid as that may sound, it is a reality. Life is not sustainable living and abusing drugs the way we did. So we decide – wholeheartedly, half-heartedly and sometimes kicking and screaming the entire way.
The first day can be a lot of things for the addict or alcoholic trying to find recovery. We think the decision to have the first day is the most important part.
Written by SHANE P. CURRIN, Lion’s Gate Recovery.
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