Christmas Eve 1999 I lived in Burbank, California with my grey lop rabbit, Cadbury. I was in for the night and just had to find Cadbury on the patio when I heard a man’s voice asking if I had a rabbit. “Yes, but she is right here,” I replied. He then stated that there was a different white rabbit in the alley drinking from dirty puddles. Well, that is all it took, I was off and running like Alice. I was wearing pajamas, no shoes and started following the white rabbit making sure I didn’t accidentally startle it into harm’s way. I followed him three blocks, I could not get close enough to grab him and we were only 4 houses away to a very busy street, when suddenly the rabbit darted into someone’s back yard. I debated as to whether to knock on the door, it was now nearly 11:00pm but I went for it…
and to my chagrin I had literally walked (more like ran) this rabbit right back to his own backyard. I was embarrassed, tired and would do it again.
Fast forward, and I went back to school at Loyola Marymount University to get my certificate in drug counseling. I chose to work with teens in the schools and it didn’t take long for me to get burned out trying to untangle family issues, hearing the most traumatic tales ever written, reporting child abuse and feeling empathy to the point of heart break. Our first case involving heroin was in 2014. That was a game changer and brought the level of treatment to a code orange. I moved further away from the patients and closer to administrative work.
A call center that people used as a crisis hotline. I heard from young vets and their wives that didn’t have the resources to get treatment or go find a rehab that would take them. All I could offer was a waiting list for the VA hospital. Who knew how long that might take; weeks, probably months. How can a system like that work? Who knows if they would even be alive by then. It was Generation Y struggling to exist, the elderly addicted to Dilaudid, Percocet, Xanax.
My world opened up in ways I don’t know if I can ever put into words. One more step away from the personal touch of addiction, less heroin but still utilizing my experience and my need to help others.
Now I work in Beverly Hills, Utilization Review. Ahhh, I had done it. I had successfully escaped the hard part of recovery and found my nirvana….
Until two of our patient’s overdosed on heroin.
I knew their stories, I worked hard to get treatment days from their insurance and now they were gone. Even though my clients are now traumatic stories, symptoms and ASAM criteria on paper, it has never changed the intimacy I hold sacred, and no matter how hard I hold on, some may slip down that rabbit hole and that is the magic and responsibility in dancing with addicts-knowing when to stand in the cold and stop from being entranced by all that they chase, especially something as beautiful, sweet and lovely as rabbits. I have learned I cannot outrun what makes me a CADC; I can only pray that peace is on the way, for me and for my clients