Let's Be Real
No one wants to come to treatment.
There are a multitude of reasons why people end up making the leap though: pressure, family, job, kids, hopelessness, rock bottom, and any one of a number of different things. But most people don't want to come. People hold out for one last "night out", they tell themselves that next time it'll be different. Next time I'll be able to restrain myself and fight off the urges. The idea that next time will be different is almost always completely detached from reality, unfortunately.
So treatment it is. Pack your bags, say goodbye to whomever is still left in one's life, buckle up because it's time for a change. Treatment is scary. The idea of it is, anyway. Really, what people find out, is that treatment is just like a very serious summer camp. Your life is on the line. Worst case scenario, your disease could cost you your life. Or you'll just be an addict or alcoholic until you die. Who knows what's worse. But there is a better way - go to treatment, act like your life depends on it (because it does), and change your outlook and approach to life.
Addiction Recovery Treatment, what most people know as rehab, is a very first-world phenomenon. The fact that we can literally press pause on our lives for a few months and get the help we need is amazing. We can press pause on all of the pressing concerns that 90% of the world has to deal with on a daily basis. Food, Water, Shelter, and everything else. We have a system that picks up the least among us, which is something that we should be proud of. Yes, there are waitlists, but scholarships like the Fallen Sons Memorial Fund exist.
So you do what you need to do, and miracles happen. Your first week clean seems like a miracle, because you had been using almost every day for the last however long. Then you get two weeks. Wow. Your family is starting to get their hopes up. You don't hate what you see in the mirror anymore. One month - OK, now we're really in it!
Ego In Check?
After 2 or 3 months, you've completed your stay in primary care treatment. You're ready for some responsibility again. Your body feels good and you can actually sleep for a full night. You're going to the gym again, and damn, you've either lost 15 pounds or put 15 pounds on - depending on if you gain or lose weight whilst living in addiction.
The months stack up. You're ready for work, school or volunteering again - you had better be doing something because too much spare time is your enemy! Repeat: too much spare time is the enemy! Be productive, follow your passions, rediscover yourself. Be you.
There is nothing quite like being happy and fulfilled if you want to stay sober. Find meaning and purpose, do what you need to do, and the outcomes will generally be good.
Now you're a year into the process. OK. So you've proven you can do it but is your eye still on the ball? Are you still focused on the goal? Do you remember how bad it was - bad enough that you somehow, someway had to go to rehab, even though you told yourself that you, almighty you, would never need treatment. You did need treatment. You went to treatment. Don't forget that if you screw up, you'll probably need treatment again. That internal fire should burn, the desire to maintain your beautiful new life, to reach new peaks and to succeed in life. Don't kid yourself - you can succeed. You will succeed, as long as you do what you need to do.
People have now forgiven you for the vast majority of missteps you had along the road. They don't blame you for all the shameful and desperate things you did while you were sick. They trust you again. Life gets normal again but you best not take your eye off the ball.
Are you still practising self-care? Are you constantly reevaluating to ensure you're doing what you need to do? Are you as humble as you were when you were 2 months into this new journey? You had better reflect and make sure you're doing what you need to do.
The gifts of recovery are endless, but you need to work for them. Hopefully, by this point, you're giving back. Hopefully, you realize that you're not invincible. You're not. The number of people with multiple years clean that this writer has seen go down would amaze you. But I also know just as many, if not more, that are decades into this rodeo and going strong.
What type of life do you want to lead anyway?
Yeah, I thought so. Make sure you do what you need to do.
Written for Together We Can by Tristan Elliott, a third-year BBA student who currently works as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator. He is passionate about issues affecting the local community, personal finance, the economy, and Canada as a whole.