Q: Can you turn a pickle back into a cucumber?
A: Rehab isn’t a miracle!
I’m a partner of SP Bespoke. This is my residential rehab story.
Yes. Rehabs do work for some. They are professionally run, regulated clinics. Rehab was recommended to me as the last and only resort. I had, at the point of my first stint in rehab, tried all the tricks and tactics to stop drinking. These included:
- altering routines
- altering brands/types. For example swapping whisky for wine
After rehab number 2, my wife and I just couldn’t think of anything else. We felt defeated.
However, if I tell you now that I have been sober for longer than I could ever have expected, that I wasn’t unfixable as I had believed following my stays in rehab, hopefully you will feel a glimmer of hope.
My experience of residential rehab
My wife and I thought residential rehab to be the only way forward. We had tried everything else. Yes, I did stop drinking. For a while. But successful recovery is about staying sober. Rehab didn’t give me that. A big thing about it is that you will be educated. For me, that education was that rehab was full of alcohol and addicts. Rehab was a safe bubble for me. In other words, it was a few weeks of a safe place to focus on not drinking. Away from my ‘normal’ life at work and at home. Subsequently I left rehab thinking that when I came home, all would be well; that the ‘miracle’ of rehab would remain.
Could I come home and socially drink?
When I left rehab I had the false belief that, after a few weeks of ‘drying out’, I could come home and socially drink. I thought I was cured – so I thought I could drink again. But once I did, I was back to square one. Similarly, everyone who goes to rehab still has to leave, come home and return to ‘normal’ life. In other words, going back to work was the realization for me that nothing inside had changed to be sufficiently resilient to the thing that had caused it in the first place.
Unfortunately, all I found in rehab for me was a short-term fix with no ongoing application. I was dry. But I was just a dried-out pickle. All those stresses and feelings came back. Therefore, the second rehab stint was just a copy of the first experience.
Was it simply that I was unfixable?
Certainly, I had spent thousands. Above all, I’d let my family down. Is this where my life had got me to? I had guilt, shame and the now even more deep-rooted belief that I was unfixable. This got me drinking again. The ‘last resort’ had failed. Twice. It had got me well, for a moment in time. However, it did not keep me well. As a result, residential rehab had magnified my hopelessness. This was my trigger for relapse. Residential rehab left me thinking that I was unfixable. I wasn’t. No one is. In other words, there is a way out.
What was missing from the rehab and my other tricks and tactics was the long-term focus on the individual. Drinking isn’t the problem. It’s the thinking that leads to the drinking.
In (an alcoholic) space, nobody can hear you scream (but to you, it's deafening)
If you drink alcohol consistently, your body screams in need as it is biologically dependent. The head thinks ‘no’. But the body yells ‘yes’. The sound from the inside is deafening but no one else can hear it. These screams were my body just wanting to feel any semblance of normality again. Residential rehab for a lot of people is similar to putting a plaster on a lifetime of buildup. So it is hard – impossible for most – to fix in a few weeks.
In addition to all this personal anguish, my illness had become a family problem. As a consequence, my family also suffered. They needed to be helped too. It was rife with co-dependency. We needed help and there was nowhere else to go. That’s when I met Shig.
There absolutely is life after alcohol
So, is there life after alcohol? When I stopped drinking, I thought my life was over. Little did I know it was just beginning.
My wife and I have been married for 30 years and our relationship is strong, loving, supportive and healthy. Now grown up, my children are happy and healthy - and they have their dad back. They see their mum happy again and we are a family. Above all, we survived the catastrophe that is alcoholism and have come out stronger on the other side.
The light at the end of the tunnel (that for once, isn't a train heading straight at you)
SP Bespoke was set up by Shig and me to help others. In short, there are countless addicts out there – more than you could possibly imagine – with families who are suffering. We help break the chain of dependency and help families get well and stay together. An amazing team of experts will be on hand to help you.
Financially, we are much more affordable than residential rehabilitation. We offer private, at home support for you and your family. This includes expert help with legal problems that may have arisen as a result of addictions.
Above all, it works. We ourselves are a testament to that, as are countless number of our clients.
There is hope.