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[ Personal Narratives ]

Crazy Talk

People show up in rehab trashed, sick. I’ve been twice and my first couple days both times are blank. I couldn’t tell you a single detail about who I met or what I said. I don’t recall being out of my wits but after witnessing the newcomers arriving after me, I can only imagine how amazing I must have been.

There are a few bizarre memories I have from those glorious days. One of them is the crazy shit people would say. The things that came out of their mouths (I am sure mine, too) were said in all seriousness, important facts or ultimatums.

“If Abraham Lincoln smoked dope people wouldn’t think it was so bad nowadays.”

“My Oxy is wearing off so I need some Vicodin.”

One woman took a drug test three times over a three week period and it popped positive every time. “The drugs I might have taken would not pop on a test, and I didn’t even take any, so its a false positive.” (She had a visitor who gave her drugs when he visited).

The bullshit talk was great too. In class, someone would talk about their Higher Power and now that they have accepted him they felt secure in their path to sobriety. The same person would then vehemently gripe all through lunch, “fuck all that Higher Power BS.” In class they felt obligated to please the counselor but afterwards were bitter and angry and just asses to be near.

There were few breaks from the daily routine in rehab, so watching TV was a big deal. There was a gal who would hide the TV remote in different areas of the lounge so she could always watch what she wanted. Every evening for a month the only show available was “Southern Fried Homicide.” Trying to negotiate a compromise was impossible. She had to watch this show. She was “addicted to it.” She said that she had given up all her other addictions and it was only fair she got to keep this last one.

Then there were the experimenters. Although we were there to get sober, there was always a debate as to the possibilities of getting high if one of your psych drugs was snorted. I won’t lie, I somewhat enjoyed this particular conversation. It caused my fellow patients to become animated. The chemist abiding in the addict is willing to experiment with anything.

Oh, war stories. The counselors would shut these conversations down. We addicts and alcoholics have a tendency to one up each other, probably because there isn’t a whole lot to talk about in rehab. It’s another animated conversation, but it can also get heated. “I got busted carrying, had a blood alcohol level of 3.2 and my mother is going to disown me.” “Well, my mom is dead, no one loves me, I drank a fifth of scotch a day, did crack, hit a cop, and went to jail.” Sure, most of the facts were true, no doubt. The victory of being worse than another addict/alcoholic is puzzling. I am not saying I was above anyone in doing this. Once, someone started up I had my list of shit building and getting more colorful as I waited my turn to scourge myself.

There are some too who feel that certain drugs (weed) or just cutting back on alcohol is all that is necessary. They are in rehab for substance control. They are not like the rest of us losers who are really messed up. According to them, some drugs are not so bad and using a little bit is okay. They want you to know this fact, because they need you to know they are going to go out and use again. For some reason, this is important data. If you are not among this group most didn’t really care about philosophy or plans. It was obvious to everyone but them that it was doomed to fail. It was just annoying how often they had to let you know.

The assholes. There are some counselors that got that label. They were tough and crusty. Old school. In hindsight, I can say they are good people, but at the time I (we) felt they were awful and if they didn’t back off it would be their fault if we left and used again. You had to use something to deal with a dick head. They were the excuse to not attend a class they taught, which led to “consequences” which led to a patient having a tantrum and threatening to leave. Yeah, it was a blast watching a 40 year old wail. I never did this, I swear. I did watch in fascination though.

Contraband. I can’t deny that this is where I committed most of my rehab violations. I had my husband sneak in banned reading material, caffeinated candy, Ativan, chocolate. My excuses for these “needs” were at best insane. “I am too frustrated to read that AA crap, it only makes me want to drink.” “I need caffeine, the classes are boring.” “I need Ativan, rehab is so stressful it makes me want to use, and I will leave if I don’t relax.” Crazy shit.

I ended up bonding with a heroin addict who ended our every conversation with: “Don’t be fucking burnt.” It was weird and endearing.

Wisdom. Some alcoholics/addicts read a bit and thought they were gurus. I had a roommate that thought she could mix Buddha and AA like magic. “Ohm, ohm, silence will calm your soul and bring you on the sober path,” or some shit like that. Then the next second she was banging on the bathroom door every time I needed some privacy, saying she: “needs her toothbrush now.” So mellow. Or, the heroin addict who just a couple days before could barely sit on the couch was suddenly able to counsel you or rather insist that you had better accept AA or you were going to be in the 98% who relapse. Shoot me now.

Rehab did help me, really it did.

Most people who end up in rehab are crazy while they are in treatment: that is certain. The intoxicated brain is a mess.

Bat shit crazy.