Recollections from a rehab – Part one

I was in rehab in the town of Glen Ellen, northern California. I had recently lost both my parents in quick succession, my mother first then my father, although they were no longer connected, nor had they been for many years, for they hated each other you see, in a deep, lasting and committed way (unlike their marriage), right up until they breathed their last.

When crises of this magnitude arise in my life, I can tend to behave in ways that most people struggle to make sense of and I agree that from the outside looking in it must seem most puzzling. I can act as if I were a human pinball, banging, crashing and ballooning into all and everything (usually people), never staying in one place for any longer than is absolutely necessary, until I once more fly off into this pattern of insanity, each day little more than a process of picking up the broken and battered pieces of the previous days madness, hopelessly attempting to glue them back together with half formed apologies, offers of financial recompense or, depending on the severity of my actions, fleeing in the dead of night trying to convince myself that this friendship was fading anyway; I had just hastened the process a little.

I have what is known in psychology as a ‘disorganised attachment pattern’, which put in its simplest terms means that if I don’t have a sense of a secure attachment ‘base’…that safe place (or person) people move toward either physically or mentally or both, looking for shelter when in a crisis…I tend to fall into the type of behaviour I have just described, as I search fruitlessly for something to cling to, something to sustain me whilst I wait out the storm.

Now it’s all very well having this great insight into my own behaviour, thinking I’m some clued up therapist, looking like a bit of a wanker as I stroke my chin and make profound pronouncements concerning human behaviour, yet another thing entirely when I find myself dropped head first into whatever the crisis happens to be this time.

I mean sometimes, I can actually see the problem waaaay in advance of it even becoming a problem, gently simmering away in the distance, slowly looming larger on the horizon as it moves toward me shouting…

“Hey…I am a potentially HUUUGE problem about to land in your life, causing untold damage and wreaking havoc on a scale you could never imagine in your darkest nightmares…however…I am a very, very, very long way away and will provide you with many warning signs, at regular intervals, right up until I am knocking gently upon your front door seeking entry into your psyche…so I suggest you give this some thought as soon as possible so that when I do eventually arrive you will be well prepared and thus reduce the potential damage to little more serious than the psychological equivalent of a small rash and a bit of a cough”…

…even in this situation, when the crisis eventually arrives, I find it incredibly difficult to manage myself and my feelings, which can be a right ball ache, yet on the other hand has made for some interesting excursions and detours, not all of which have necessarily caused problems for other people.

Now, when I am in the middle of a crisis I usually forget, firstly, that I am in a crisis and secondly, that I don’t deal with these things too well, meaning that i have to rely on certain symptoms to show themselves, at which point I can start making informed decisions and ask for help as to the best way forward.

If, for example, I’ve got a crack pipe in one hand and a piece of tin foil, upon which a lump of heroin smoulders, in the other, whilst balancing a half drunk bottle of single malt between my knees, all the while nudging the keys of my laptop with my nose attempting to purchase plane tickets to any number of random locations…this is usually a sign that I may have floated a smidgeon off course and should probably start thinking up some alternate strategies, quickly, as it’s not looking likely that I’ll make it out of this one unscathed.

BOUNDARIES!! BOUNDARIES!! BOUNDARIES!!…that’s what I needed…healthy, strong, robust, caring, unbreakable and enforced boundaries, such as the kind on offer at any number of rehabilitation establishments the world over and seeing as I had a few extra shekels by way of my father’s estate, a place was booked and a flight was flown, which is how I came to find myself checking into the Mountain Vista treatment facility in Glen Ellen…fine wine country!
that I flew there after checking out of The Cedars treatment facility KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa…needn’t really be of concern as to this here story, so I’ll give it a bit of a wide berth if I may…however, did I hear somebody say the words pinball, disorganised and chaotic?…nah…thought not.

I got a nice warm welcome from everyone at Mountain Vista, settled in and got the first few days out of the way. It was September in northern California, which meant an Indian summer, with days full of a sunshine, which warmed my bones and nights which were crystal clear, the sky crowded with a million points of light and I found myself gazing up in awe, night after night, as I made a nest of blankets and pillows, reclining on one of the sun loungers which were liberally scattered across the lawn.

I had also been introduced to the rest of the residents over the course of the first few days and had, as usual when finding myself in these types of situations, hated each and every one of them instantly, which was due to social anxiety and typical junkie arrogance.

I never cease to be amazed and amused by the egotistical stance of many of those stumbling through the doors of their chosen refuge with the deafening music from that final back-breaking, life threatening party seeming to fade gently away as the double doors close behind them, all flea bitten and stinking, clothes so disgusting they ought to be removed with scissors like they do in ERs when someone has broken a limb.

Financial insolvency usually accompanies this wretched apparition, as does a list as long as your arm of all the people who will, not only never speak to them again, but who upon re-emergence are more than likely to either castigate, sue, or more amusingly, visit upon them the kind of physical harm usually reserved for rapists during a prison riot.

Anyway, I myself have been guilty of being an arrogant little shit upon landing in various rehabs, which is of course nothing more than a lame defence mechanism designed to keep people away, however, I was on this occasion at this particular rehab, somehow able to keep my mouth shut, along with keeping my body language marginally less aggressive than the stance adopted by the Marquis of Queensberry, which allowed others to approach me and friendships to be formed.

The first person I encountered was my roommate Ted (names have been changed to protect the innocent!), who first appeared to me as a ghostly apparition in the dead of night. I had been detoxing for about thirty-six hours by this point and was feeling, what can only be described as absolutely fucking appalling!

I was a moaning, twitching, itching, kicking, wide-a-fucking-wake ball of sweat and ungodly odours lying there in the middle of the night. I had been drifting in and out of consciousness for several hours, just trying to make it through until the staff decided I was in prime position to receive a medication called Suboxone.

Suboxone is an opiate substitute and acts in similar ways to methadone but with one major difference, it has another substance mixed in with it called Naloxone which blocks the opioid receptors in the brain, meaning that should one attempt to use any opiate whilst on this medication, it simply won’t work, kind of an added insurance against relapse.

The other interesting side note to this drug is that if you take it too soon after stopping your opiate use, you will immediately plunge into full withdrawal (cold turkey), which I’m sure you will understand is something best avoided.

The little leaflet that comes in the box spells out very clearly that the patient should be showing full signs of opiate withdrawal…sweating, shaking, dilated pupils, aching bones, cries for mother etc… before the drug should be administered, which is how I came to be lying there in the dark swearing up and down that I was done with this shit, no more for me matey….oh nooooo…I can’t believe I was so damned stupid once again…too old for all this nonsense maaaan…Hey! Where is my fucking Suboxone you fucks??!!…surely it’s been long enough by now for me to get started on it…I’m dyyyyying dude…help me pleaaassseee!! Just generally making a real pain in the arse of myself and getting right on everyone’s nerves.

As I lay there delirious and confused in the dark at about four ‘o’ clock in the morning, not really knowing where or who I was, the door burst open and in stumbled a large out of focus thing, which later turned out to be Ted.
It was pitch black so I really couldn’t make much out but he seemed to have a huge blanket or sleeping bag wrapped around his shoulders, held together with one hand in the middle of his chest. His hair was sticking out in every direction and he was shouting the following, repeatedly and at ear splitting volume:

“Fuuuuuck!…where the fuck is my fucking hat?”…

”Fuuuuuck, I’m fucking dying…I don’t know what’s happening and I’m fucking dying!”….

After several volleys of the above, he launched himself into the air and came crashing down right on top of me (the sickest individual that had ever had the misfortune to have uttered the words…”Yes please…I’ll have five of those…three of those…and could you possibly lay us a couple more on until payday?!”) causing us immediately to become one groaning pile of blankets, limbs, sweat, questionable odours and fear, which then promptly launched itself off the bed, finally coming to rest upside down on the floor.

After an eternity, we detangled ourselves and Ted began an unsteady crawl towards the open door, presumably to continue in his quest to locate the hat. He had managed no more than two knee lengths, when further two figures came flying into the room flapping, in near panic and out of breath.

“Ted! Ted!” one of them said…”Ted, what the hell have you taken?…Ted?!…hey, shit…get it together buddy…look at me…can you see me?…how many fingers am I holding up?…Ted?!”

By this point Ted was little more than a slurring, dribbling idiot, unable to speak words, so the two figures took an arm each and lifted him up onto legs incapable of bearing his weight and he promptly sat down again…quickly… so they tried again to lift him up by his armpits and once more, down again he sat. After two or three attempts at this, there seemed to be some unspoken agreement between them and with an imperceptible nod, they rolled him onto his back and begun to drag him out, catching his blanket on the door hinge, which then unravelled itself and dropped off, leaving him to disappear around the corner, clothed only in a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a flip-flop.

I closed the door and put myself back in bed, covering my head with a pillow, praying it would all go away, in fact hoping it had all been a horrible nightmare and any moment a nice nurse-type person would appear with an armful of Suboxone and a bottle of Glenlivet.
A restless couple of hours passed in which I failed completely to make some sense of what had happened earlier. Finally the door opened, much more quietly this time, revealing a much calmer Ted who quickly clambered onto his bed and after getting himself as comfortable as possible, explained that one of the other residents had been building up a supply of one of his meds…an anti-psychotic drug called Seroquel, which also acts as a heavy sedative.

Earlier when Ted had complained to him that he was really struggling to sleep, the other guy had decided to come to the rescue and offered his stash of Seroquel to Ted, which he promptly swallowed without a backwards glance. It turned out that the amount he took was waaaaay more than was even remotely good for a person and it had been touch and go as to whether he should be taken to the ER. It had been decided in the end that they would just keep him under observation and after a couple of hours he started to come round and had been allowed back to his room.

Sadly the other resident was immediately discharged…you just can’t go around handing out drugs to junkies…in rehab…no matter how well intentioned you are!

Not long after Ted had arrived back, the magical moment finally arrived, in which the nurse came into our room and told us we were ready to receive our Suboxone.

As it turned out, the procedure was such that in order to be prescribed the drug, each resident had to be taken by car into the small town of Glen Ellen for an appointment with the Doctor, who obviously earned a few extra bob on the side by offering his services to the treatment centre.

Apparently Ted had arrived at the rehab only a couple of hours prior to me, so we were at similar places in our detox nightmare and the staff had been waiting for both of us to hit the required length of time together, so that they could deal with us together…sort of.
For reasons best known to the staff (security would be my guess), we could only be taken into the town one at a time and we were now being asked to come to a decision between ourselves as to who was to go first.

Now, I’d just love to tell you what a lovely guy I am…trustworthy, kind, honest, compassionate, giving and all other manner of loveliness…and I am capable of all of the above but I was, first and foremost, in this situation at the very least, an addict, who was very much in addict mode and as such, was pretty well emotionally blinkered into getting my own needs met and out of the terrible discomfort I was in, selfishly and as quickly as possible…everyone else could just fuck right off!

I am, however, English and was raised by a mother who was very particular about good manners and etiquette, which means that even though I may desire something very much, I am also obliged to…through gritted teeth if necessary…offer it to the other person first, often praying to God as I do so that they respond in the negative and offer it back to me, at which point, depending how desperate I am for that thing, I will either take it or bat it back towards them one more time…just to appear super wonderful; an all-around good egg and snappy dresser, shall we say…at which point they often take it, causing me to hate them for the rest of their lives and wish hateful shit on their children.

That’s just the way I am I suppose, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as I at least give the impression of being a fully formed and respectful adult on the outside, whilst on the inside might well be trying to figure out the best angle to render this person mentally ill and unable to continue functioning in reasonable society.

“So”, the nurse says… “Which one of you guys would like to go first?” at which point I start gearing up for my game of verbal table-tennis…”weeel….”

“ME!” says Ted

…and I shit you not…he was up and in the passenger seat of that car in under fifteen seconds, banging into the nurse so robustly on the way out that he winded her and caused her to stagger…

and that is how I came to meet Ted!


To be continued…


2 Responses to “Recollections from a rehab – Part one”

  1. Just fab drummerboy, I felt like I was there in the room with you. Looking forward to the next installment.

  2. So good to see you back here Drummerboy. xo

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