The time had finally come when I was able to admit that I was a drug addict and I needed some professional help. I had tried to quit using Oxycontin on my own and had failed miserably time and time again. At my doctor's advice, I checked into the hospital to take advantage of their rehab services. What I experienced there made me change my perception of life.
In my mind I was entering an in-patient detox program. That's all I assumed that I would be doing. I would go in there, they would assist me with the horrible withdrawal symptoms that go along with detoxing from Oxycontin, and then I would leave.
What I did not realize is that this rehab stay would give me the tools needed to start to rebuild myself into a happy, well adjusted person that was able to face life without the need of mood altering substances.
Surrounded By Addicts
While waiting to be registered on the lock-down psyche ward of the hospital I had just checked into, I was locked into a room no bigger than a broom closet which had windows looking out onto the ward. I was able to see other patients walking around. I can honestly tell you that I was scared.
I was dreading the completion of the registration process because then the room I was in would be unlocked and I would be expected to go out there with all of "those people". I kept asking myself what I was doing here. I was certainly not as bad off as all of "those people".
The addictions counselor who was registering me went over the basic day to day of the rehab. He told me that there is a group check-in meeting in the morning which all patients are expected to attend. Following that, there are group meetings with various themes throughout the day that I would be expected to attend.
Right away I was freaked out. I voiced my fear to the addictions counselor telling him that I was afraid of the people that I was seeing in the hall. He tried to explain to me that "those people" were the same as me. They were in the lowest spot of their life right now and they were here for the same reason as me, to get better and try to recover.
My Name Is Erin
So here it was, my first meeting and would not you know it … they expect me to be the first of the group to speak. Being the addict that I am I had gotten very used to avoiding people, stuffing my feelings and isolating myself. Now here I was in a group full of strangers on the lock-down psyche ward of a hospital being asked to share some very personal thoughts and feelings.
What could I do though right? I went with it. The first time speaking I introduced myself and just kind of brave a little back story of how I had ended up here. I also did something that I never thought I would do in front of strangers … I fought. People were nice and brave some encouraging words.
As the meeting went on and I heard other people speaking it slowly started to see into my addiction riddled brain … wow, these people have the same story as me. We were all there for the same reason and although some of the patients were a little further down on their luck, I was no different from any of them.
I wonder what it was in my brain that was making me think that I was any better off than these people? Was it a defense mechanism that I had picked up to keep me from realizing just how much of an addict I had become? Was it a way to keep myself from having any real connection with another human being? I guess it boils down to the fact that I had not yet been humbled by my situation.
I became more and more comfortable in these group meetings. The more comfortable I became the more I got out of this group therapy. "Those people" were teaching me some coping skills that for whatever reason I never learned in my 29 years on earth.
I started to no longer think of the other patient's as "those people". I learned people's names and their reasons for checking themselves in. I could not help but have a connection with these people … they have seen me spill my guts and cry out of despair and I had seen them do the same. We understood each other. We were all on common ground.
Around day 4 of my 5 day stay I started to get some of my confidence back. I definitely had my sense of humor back. I was able to look at myself in the mirror again which is something that I realized I had not done since I checked in.
I had been taught some new life skills and a whole bunch of coping skills that I would take with me and that I use almost every day of my life in addiction recovery. Rehab for me was much more than just going in and detoxing from Oxycontin. "Those people" gave me a way to find my true self again.