After 8 months locked up in a rehab (coming off a large heroin and crack addiction and having to detox off methadone) the day finally came for me to leave.
For 8 months I was told what time to wake up, what I was going to eat and what time I had to go to bed. I got punished if I used bad language in certain areas of the rehab. I had no access to the internet or mobile phones and I wasn’t allowed to get into personal relations.
The treatment and daily groups were extremely intense and day to day living had many restrictions. In some ways it was probably not a million miles away from prison. In fact there were a few people who came from prison to rehab and actually opted to go back to prison as they said it was easier (you can probably guess that my rehab wasn’t a private one).
One sunny summers day in July, 2016, my liberty, choice and freedom was finally handed back to me on a silver platter. I felt excited but also scared. Scared of myself, scared of making the wrong choices and fearful that my insane way of thinking would still overcome all rational behaviour.
I’d used drugs everyday for over 25 years and was now stripped bare for all to see. The emotions flowing through my body as I stepped down the drive and onto freedom highway were strange and slightly terrifying.
I remember walking out of the rehab, sitting on a bus and getting my phone out.
I’d not held a mobile phone for 8 months (or been on the internet during this time). I held it and stared deeply into the screen, looking for answers unsure quite what to do. Scared of contacting friends who’d ask awkward questions, terrified of getting back onto social media. So although I’d been giving back choice, in this instant I still didn’t seem to have one.
In my mind (did i mention that my mind can be deluded?) I imagined me jumping out of rehab, skipping down the road whilst people high fived me. Beautiful girls stared and pointed,
“There he is, what a hero, he now doesn’t use drugs.
He’s amazing! What great boyfriend material!”
But the reality was on that first day out I ended up walking around the town feeling alone and frightened. I sat in a cheap cafe looking around and listening to other peoples conversations thinking ‘where do i fit in’?
It was easy to fit in whilst on drugs. I had a certain identity, one which i carried with me all my life. I now felt like i’d changed my name and had internal and external plastic surgery.
I’m now a year clean I can look back at this not too distance past and realize that the things that I did learn whilst in rehab slowly trickled through the longer I was out. On the second day I went to the shops and spotted a couple of addicts eagerly waiting on the street corner. I stood transfixed, staring, feeling like a single grain of sand. Then their dealer rolled up. I had £20 in my pocket and a bunch of feelings. Then my keyworker’s voice came into my head,
“The first thought that comes into your head is the wrong one.”
In my mind I was able to fast forward what would happen if i walked over to those people. Without realizing I was putting into practice some of what had been drummed into me.
It can still be challenging because I will always be an addict, but today I have the choice not to be an addict in active addiction.
Recovery is different for everyone. Sure we share similarities, but each persons recovery is unique to them. There is no standard, text book recovery manuel. There is not only one way to recover. Find what works for you and work it hard. Don’t be scared to mix things up and always be open to change. For me I need real balance. I try and Ying and Yang things up to the max. I do a few fellowship meetings, yoga, gym, music, a balanced diet and writing. And extremely important to me is laughter. I didn’t come into recovery to be a boring bastard! I’m always going to be a bit naughty and that’s OK as long as I’m not hurting myself or others there’s no problem.
I’m a work in progress and I’m enjoying building and creating. I’m literally starting my life all over again so I have a blank canvas on which to work. I try not to look backwards or forwards and just walk slowly each day.
“Today I’m more excited by the new things that I can do rather than the old things that i cannot.” – Young Sung Hero