Street Tales: Recovery has its enemies

So sick you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, your body feels like it’s been drug through a knothole backwards; that’s usually when a person realizes that it’s time for a Detox session. Whether it’s alcohol, crack, meth, morphine or any other substance, periodically you have to dry out; the physical pain or feeling sick rotten becomes too much. The only out is a detox session.

Periodically the feelings of disgust, shame and remorse will promote the need and desire for further rehabilitation. That is a much harder need to fulfil; Detox alone can take days or weeks at times to enroll into, but rehab programs from what I hear and understand are much more difficult to obtain. The overwhelming need for these services far outstrips the facilities or services available.

Maybe now that our different levels of government will be making millions from the sale of drugs, both legalized and the others that will be legalized in the near future, (something which the federal government has already alluded to), will spend some of these monies on increased facilities to combat their new source of revenue. Not! Too many votes to buy and pensions to support!

The short supply of rehab facilities is the first and greatest enemy of recovery. Lately, many find death before they ever find help. From the experiences which we and many agencies have observed, one of the other enemies of recovery often is familiarity. One quote all agencies agree on is — “When you don’t know what to do, you do what is familiar.” Let me set the scene for you.

A person has come to the point of needing to detox, and because of the need for a somewhat normal life, will enter a rehab facility. Total time for this process can be anywhere from three months to a year or more, often depending on the need. Graduation day is often presented with an open door and an empty street. No more, no less. Not knowing what to do, the person will often return to familiar territory and ‘friends’ where very often their trigger points were established in the first place.

During rehab, they are taught how to deal with these triggers, and there are many resources available, but here is where we had an experience with one individual. She had detoxed and gone through about six months of rehab, with a great determination to stay clean. She did for a couple of years, entering into a relationship with a fellow she knew well; or thought she did. When the relationship faced a few hurdles, it did not take too long for the triggers to attack on-mass. Emotionally she did not have the strength to resist and is now once again going through the same process. Once again, she opted for what was familiar; her worst enemy!

I am definitely not a psychology major, but I do realize that while anything to do with the re-training of the mind takes the full participation of both the patient and the counsellor, the majority of the effort has to be the desire of the patient to go clean permanently.

Often a recovered individual will feel the need to change their environment which I feel can be a good thing but only if they make the move to go and stay clean. I have written before about folks who have done just that. They have come back to pay a visit and in part to show (with a great deal of pride) that they are winning the battle. That is all the encouragement we need to know that the battle is worth the effort, and with their dogged determination, these people prove that the war is winnable, and familiarity, although often is, does not always have to be the enemy of recovery.

Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator at Potters Hands.

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