The general public have no clue what it’s like to experience a stay in a drug rehabilitation facility, for that matter nor will they have any idea what it’s like to be addicted. After all why would they? It’s probably not something that would ever cross their minds, unless someone they loved or they themselves were entering treatment. Most people have no idea what to expect, I know I didn’t, when entering rehab for the first time. In short it’s basically summer camp. At least it’s what I imagine summer camp to have been- I never went- but my brother did and he concurred.
I attended Brighton Center for Recovery, the very same program as the great Marshall Mathers. The one he referenced in the song Underground on the appropriately titled Relapse Album. The experience itself was a little odd, for starters I was fresh off overdose number one of the year.
When you arrive at an institution of this nature intake goes something like this. Immediately upon getting there you drop off all of your possessions to be searched. You then spend about twenty minutes answering medical questions and filling out paperwork. You’re granted a moment to say farewell to your loved ones and then you’re committed. You spend the next hour undergoing all the typical medical tests you’d expect such as getting vitals checked, blood drawn, and medications examined all the while answering more specific questions about your habitual drug use. In all, this part of the experience took close to two hours after which you’re immediately fed.
The food in rehab, at least in my experiences, is fantastic. Mostly everyone going into treatment is on the verge of malnourishment so they feed you the most deliciously fattening, carb heavy buffet style diet you can imagine. After your first meal you are shown to your room and reunited with your belongings. You don’t do much the first week outside of eat, sleep, play cards, and make smalltalk.
For most people, the first week in is certifiably hellacious. It’s during this stretch that the physical withdrawals are most extreme due to your body purging itself from the toxins of drugs. Depending on your substance this probably consists of feeling as though you’ve been run over, there’s little control over your bodily functions, and you’re doing everything you can to just not run out of the facility. Since all my stays in treatment came immediately following stays in the hospital I’d already gotten past the worst of this most unpleasant interval by the time I arrived. Nonetheless they don’t make special exceptions, not even for someone as self righteous as myself, therefore I was kept on bedrest most of week one.
The first two weeks are spent under strict medical supervision in a hospital setting. They really ease you into the whole recovery experience. In week two, if not week one, you start attending daily 12 Step meetings. Either Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous to supplement your not-so-busy schedule. Although I can’t really think of a good comparison, the best I can come up with to describe an AA meeting is a cross between group therapy and participating in a student run organization at the high school or college level. Imagine a group therapy session without a therapist where everybody has the same core problem, that’s basically an AA meeting.
I enjoyed the meetings right off the rip. Not because I was sold on sobriety, I wasn’t, but rather because I have this thing doctors tell me is known as attention deficit disorder which meant I was bored out of my tree sitting around doing nothing all day. I enjoyed hearing people share their stories. It’s probably where my obsession with perspectives got its start, each and every person in those rooms had been through experiences I could related to on some level. All of us in that addiction spectrum of use and I found it to be fascinating.
Following the conclusion of the first two weeks is when the summer camp feel comes into play and they really ramp up the addiction/recovery curriculum. Everything is very routine, as it should be, during this period and a typical day goes like this. Breakfast is offered from 8 to 9 in the morning after which you attend your the first of three hour long class periods for the day. The first class, or didactic as they were called in Brighton, starts at 10 am. Lunch runs from 11 am till noon. After lunch you attend class number two at 1 pm followed by an hour of extended leisure time along with the opportunity to use the gym until the third class of the day starts at 4 pm. Dinner goes from 5 pm to 6 pm and the last part of the day that requires participation is a 12 Step meeting at 7 pm. Around 9 pm there’s an optional elective style course that’s comprised of a more laid back fun activity like Yoga, meditation, or finger painting (alright I’m just kidding about that last bit).
There’s regular downtime between obligations and overall it’s a delightfully laid back environment to be a part of. There are puzzles, board games, and cards to be enjoyed as well as a commons area to watch TV. Loved ones were welcome to visit once every two weeks. On those days the curriculum would change to something for the whole lot. If you’ve ever wondered what treatment’s like now you know. Basically that’s what it’s like to be locked away in a drug rehabilitation facility for a month.
My hope is that this perspective- my perspective- might help for even one person to gain a better understanding what it’s like for someone with a drug habit, or that it persuades just one person to make the choice to not venture down the rabbit hole. Learn from my mistakes, it’s a cursed path I assure you. If you like our message please share this post on social media and don’t forget to check us out on Soundcloud at ODMovement!