Rehab for the Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving dear reader, I would like to take a moment to say you are what I am thankful for this year.  Thank you for giving me the courage to build my message, without such positive feedback Open Discussion would not be a reality.  Thank you for listening to what I’ve had to say. I’ve always wanted to be a journalist and writing has always been my passion. Had you not provided an attentive ear I don’t think I would have ever put pen to paper.  

Lastly, a special thank you to those who have offered their help.  To my volunteers, I am forever grateful: from the guests who have appeared on the podcast to the artists and those behind the scenes you have made this a reality.  

Spending a holiday or birthday in rehab can be a sombering experience.  As you already know, 2014 hit me with the force of a Mike Tyson uppercut. When all was said and done my years of supernumerary drug consumption led to me spending both my birthday and Christmas in rehab that year. Two potentially similar occurrences experienced from two vastly different perspectives.  Life’s 10% what happens and 90% how you respond. Going off to rehab is akin to attending summer camping as a child, at least it’s what I imagine summer camp to have been- I never went. In other words, it’s really not bad.  That isn’t to say it’s not hard or difficult, because it is, rather it should be viewed as a positive experience.  

July 21, 2014, while at Brighton Center for Recovery, I was having a damn miserable day going through this experience that is life.  Right now you’re probably asking yourself, “Why might that be Nick?” The answer is simple: I turned 25 that day and I felt sorry for myself.  At the time I’d felt robbed of the experience, tormented by the notion that I was different, that I would never be able to go out like a normal person and enjoy a celebratory beverage on the day of my birth. Substance use is a symptom, not the root cause, of addiction.  The disease has innumerable symptoms which differ from case to case some of these include self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-pity. I was drowning in sorrow, the result of years dealing with the symptoms mentioned above most of which predated my use. Living life sober was quite literally beyond my comprehension.

One hundred fifty-seven short days later and I’m at it again.  It’s Christmas day and, by this time, I had been a resident of the Watershed Addiction Treatment facility for just under one week. Guess what?  This was not a damn miserable day, but rather a glorious one for which I was thankful. For my follow up tour in rehab I’d quit feeling sorry for myself.  “What changed,” you might wonder, the answer is I gave up. It’s common for addicts to be their hardest critic and, paradoxically, this contributes to use.  We try so hard to maintain this facade of what we once were, neglecting to face the harsh reality that it’s now something we’re not. We must allow ourselves to be broken in order to heal and to grow.  I allowed myself to be broken, I accepted it, and I owned it. Although I may be wrong, I imagine this is the mentality everyone adopts when they get clean.

“She’s never going to find rock bottom in that bedroom.”  Recently I overheard someone close to me utter the sentence and I must say, truer words have never been spoken.  They always tell you in rehab and 12 Step that you have to hit rock bottom but they never tell you where in the hell it is you find it.  To me, rock bottom is finding acceptance in being broken. Familiarity and comfortability are the enemies of growth. We’re unable to overcome our demons until we become comfortable being uncomfortable. So to my friends and family still struggling, to those in rehab, and to those with loved ones in rehab: dry your teary eyes and rejoice!  Be the Phoenix, rise from your ashes, and rewrite your story. Happy Thanksgiving to all and thank you once more for tuning in.


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