“I take things day by day, and sometimes, I take them minute by minute, but I honor my commitment to stay sober.” ~ Tom Arnold Hi, my name is Bill, and I’m an addict and an alcoholic. Sorry for the corny introduction. Over my last seven months of rehab in Everett, WA, and after hundreds of hours of group counseling and 12-Step meetings, it’s become something of a habit. I checked into rehab in Everett seven months ago, after too many years of “partying” that eventually became an out-of-control daily existence of just chasing the next drunk or the next high. My combination of cocaine, alcohol, and Xanax eventually landed me in the hospital.
MY Way was Drug Rehab the Wrong Way
When I got out, I swore, “NO MORE”, but as you might guess, that didn’t last very long at all. I was pacing the floor and climbing the walls by my second day back in my apartment, and by the fourth day, I was already making the phone call to make a buy. After another period of downward spiraling and another health scare, I got SERIOUS – I looked online and enrolled in a nearby outpatient drug rehab program here in Everett, but I didn’t do much better this time around, either. Part of it was because – maybe – I chose the wrong program. We only met twice a week for an hour, and most of the focus was on education. After four weeks, I “graduated”. I felt no different than when I had started. Looking back, I can say that part of the problem was everything was presented in such “general” terms. Nothing was individualized, to either myself or the group. I never met the therapist one-on-one, and the group meetings usually consisted of us reading from our workbooks. Also, there was no accountability – we never had to drug test, we were not required to go to 12-Step meetings, and if we showed up for one of the two weekly meetings, we were considered to be in compliance. In a very short time, I was back to my old habits.
My Rock Bottom Was Almost Too Far Down
About eight months ago, I nearly overdosed. It’s hard to describe the feeling you have when you actually think that you are about to die. I wasn’t as scared as you might think – I have the drugs to thank for that. But when I woke up in that hospital bed, I decided that I was sick and tired of being tired and sick.
I Finally Made REAL Efforts at Getting Clean
For the next 10 days, I was in an Everett drug detox program, and it was harsh – while the drugs were leaving my system, I was miserable. I was irritable, jumpy, and I felt the sickest I ever had in my life. If the detox program hadn’t offered medications to handle the worst of the withdrawal symptoms, I honestly don’t know if I would have made it through. After detox, I checked into a 28-day residential program, and for the next four weeks, virtually every moment I was scheduled by the facility to in some way support a sober life moving forward:
- One-on-one counseling with my primary assigned therapist
- Education about the disease of addiction
- Peer group therapy, where we discussed issues common to us all
- Relapse prevention
- 12-Step meetings
- Exercise sessions
- Planned “recreational” time
In the beginning, I even got to meet with a nutritionist to see if I needed a special diet. Before I went to rehab if you had told me that I would meet other people – strangers, really – who would play such a big role in my attempts to get clean, I would’ve laughed at you. But during that time, I lived with other men who were struggling with addiction just as I was, and they became my support system – in effect, my family. They understood me more than my own blood relatives because they had been where I was. My rehab family helped me learn to walk again when I was still too weak to stand on my own. They kept me facing forward when I wanted to turn back. Most of all, they helped me learn how to stop fighting myself and how to get out of my own way during recovery.
Where I Am Today in Recovery
I stayed in treatment even after my 28 days in residential rehab – I participated in an Intensive Outpatient Program of recovery that was light-years away from my previous outpatient stint. This group met more often, met for longer periods of time, and we were held accountable – random drug tests and required attendance. The best way I can describe the relationship between my stay in residential rehab and my work in my IOP is this – residential drug rehab gave me the tools to craft my own sobriety, and the IOP made sure that I was using those tools in the right way. Now, through the grace of my Higher Power, hundreds of both AA and NA meetings, the guidance of my sponsor, and the support of the family and friends I’ve made along the way, I am sober today.