Recollections from a rehab – part six…

Continued from recollections from a rehab – part five…

For some reason I got a brusque reception from pretty much everyone I met over the first few days at The Cedars, as I had by now discovered was the name of the rehab. I was immediately switched over to 4mg of Suboxone and was told it would be reduced 1mg per day, meaning I would be off all opiates within the next four days, which was pretty scary, as that is a damn fast reduction regime.

Along with the opiate reduction, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to be on any anti-depressant medication (of which I was on a relatively high dose of a drug called Venlafaxine, which I was prescribed for clinical depression) and was told to stop taking mine immediately and hand any remaining pills in to the staff, which I refused to do. Anyone with any kind of knowledge around these types of medications knows that to just stop taking them, especially after taking them for a long time, is a dangerous thing to do. I know people who have done this and ended up killing themselves soon after, so I had some major concerns about The Cedars right from the outset, which only increased over the next few days.

Most rehabs are private and like it that way; keeps the riff-raff out you see. There are however a few who make their bread and butter by linking up with the criminal justice system and receiving funding from the government to treat the addicts who have had to resort to engaging in criminal activity in order to fund their addictions and these addicts can sometimes be pretty extreme in their behaviour.

Eventually, all addicts fall into this category, for addiction is a progressive illness and, with the exception of a very few independently wealthy individuals, at some point the money always runs out, causing ever inventive methods of acquiring the necessary funds to be employed. I mention this in order to make a mockery of those addicts/alcoholics who look down their noses at those in prison or similar dire straits, of which there are many (a better class of addict…if you will), for they are simply judging themselves in just a few years’ time but which they are currently too full of ego and denial to see.

This type of rehab is therefore used to working with more extreme behaviours, simply because they are treating the illness at a place a fair bit further down the addiction continuum than say ‘The Priory’ on the day when the vicar’s daughter arrives after snorting one too many lines of Charlie and then shagging the stable boy, causing much shame and embarrassment for the family and her bank account to creep into the red for the first time since daddy opened it for her when she was five.

The treatment philosophy in rehabs that work with the more extreme clients can be a lot more challenging, as boundaries are learned (often for the first time) and all levels of control are removed from very controlling individuals who often make up for what they lack in self-esteem by presenting a massively over-inflated ego, which needs to be wrestled and brought to the ground like some horrible arrogant drug beast.

I do believe that this kind of treatment approach has its place, for it is a shock to the system indeed (and therefore a good incentive for change), to experience the level of challenge that can sometimes be unleashed, and that place is for first-timers who are a right old handful and who need to be got a grip of and whose denial may need smashing to pieces (myself, absolutely, at my first rehab after which I stayed clean for eight plus years) but for a lot of people who are much less defended and more vulnerable, it really isn’t the kind of approach required at all!

Anyway, it seems that The Cedars was working to this type of philosophy and if I had I known this beforehand I probably wouldn’t have gone there (I’d gone there to meet a guy called Don Tait…an ex-big time attorney from Canada who had had some very interesting people amongst his clientele back in the day but who had lost it all…twice!…through drinking…Don had a reputation for working really well with people who had relapsed after a significant amount of time in recovery), as my denial didn’t need smashing, I was fully aware of what I was doing to myself and the consequences of it all, plus I was really vulnerable and upset by the recent death of my parents, so wasn’t at all full of myself etc. but it seems that the second they had heard that I was a therapist they had thought.. “Right…fucking game on!…let’s get a grip of this little fucker…bring him down a peg or two!”

I had been looking forward to spending some time with Don but that didn’t seem to be happening and after a few days withdrawing on my own in a bedroom separate from the main house out the back, I was assigned to a room with my first roommate; another one who wasn’t particularly friendly towards me and again, I couldn’t figure out why.

The bedroom I was to move into had that day been vacated by someone and was a bit of a shit-tip, needing new sheets on the beds and a good clean. My new roommate (Ian) and I were introduced and had a quick chat about the state of the place and agreed certain jobs between us to be completed before the end of the day.

I had nothing else to do all day other than detox miserably so I set about doing my share of the jobs and soon got them finished. As the day progressed I was starting to wonder where Ian had got to, as he hadn’t done any of his jobs, until it eventually came to bedtime when he just walked in, right on the dot of lights out, and went to bed.

I was feeling pretty pissed off at Ian for not having any consideration but remembered where I was and how rehabs worked, meaning that I knew that at some point in the group processes the following day, I would get the opportunity to challenge Ian on not working with me to get our room up to speed. It was to be my first day allowedinto group and I was looking forward to it as I’d been on my own for the first few days.

The next day we were all there in group where I was formally introduced and the group opened out into a bring any issue type of group, which got a few people talking back and forth. At one point one of the group said something and asked for feedback from people, so after a few seconds silence I started to speak. Well…it seemed the staff had just been waiting to jump on ‘therapist boy’ and no sooner had a said two words than the head counsellor said
“Erm…there are enough therapists in this room without you as well…please shut up!” not that I was being therapist in any way, you understand, but when I tried to respond to him, he again said..

“Listen, you’re on drugs at the moment (referring to the last 1mg of Suboxone I was on) and are therefore not in your right mind…just shut up and don’t say anything until you are spoken to!”

Ok, so he was trying to deflate my ego, although I wasn’t displaying any but instead of saying anything I just thought ‘Fuck it!’ and kept silent. After a minute or so I asked if I could speak in order to say to Ian, in plain view of everyone else, the things I needed to about our room. He hesitantly allowed me to speak at which point I just calmly said what I needed to, then fell silent, at which point all hell seemed to break loose!

“Right!” said Ian “Firstly, you know what I thought when they paired me with you as a roommate?…I thought they’ve got to be fucking kidding…I’ve got to share with that wanker?”

I, of course was stunned by this; what on earth could I have possibly done to piss this guy off so heavily, since I had only just met him and barely said two words to him?

He continued:

“As for cleaning the room?…I just thought ‘fuck that guy’…I’m not doing shit for him…he thinks he’s some hot shot therapist?…the arsehole took four attempts to get here and people had to go to the airport and back four times as a result…you selfish prick! There is no way this fucker is taking his recovery seriously if he can’t even get on the fucking plane…blah blah blah!!”

I’d stopped listening by this point and the red mist was starting to descend. I have been heavily challenged on my behaviour over the years, especially in treatment, and been able to change quite a few things about myself as a result but this didn’t feel like challenge, this was just a vitriolic attack upon me by some guy who didn’t know a fucking thing about me. I was by now also starting to get annoyed with the staff for allowing him to continue using this aggressive language, which should never be allowed in a group like that, it’s just abusive and unhelpful and other group members had by now also started to chip in.

It just seemed the whole room was queuing up to have a go at me, based on absolutely nothing. Ian was unable to look at my false starts in getting there as the behaviour of a sick person, (which I certainly was in the days leading up to me arriving there) he just saw it as a lack of commitment and whist I was genuinely sorry about the guys traveling to and from the airport, I had already apologised about that to them personally and the fact that I had then gone on to spend close to seven thousand pounds on four fucking tickets, in my eyes, demonstrated a level of commitment, which went way above and beyond what I believe most people would have shown (had they had the financial resources, obviously).

I’d had enough by this point and experience told me I should have just quietly listened and not risen to the bait, however I rarely learn from experience, so I said instead:
“Fuck you, you piece of shit!…talk to me like that again and I’ll rip your fucking face off…in fact fuck all of you…I’m gone from this shithole!!”

At which point I stood up and launched a metal trash can which was sitting nearby, with my foot, sending it crashing against the far wall, spilling its contents all over the place…and left the room.

I went upstairs to my bedroom and started to pack…pacing all the while…trying to get some perspective and calm down but I was just exhausted…I’d been detoxing for days and felt awful, I was furious but also frightened, lonely and miles from home; I missed my family and I was in a building full of enemies. I just didn’t have the energy required for what would be a real uphill battle over the next few days, in which I would have to apologise for what I had just done and then have to try and win over the hearts and minds of a bunch of people who had instantly decided to take a dislike to me, based on nothing but a bunch of their own fucking issues (I say this because none of them knew anything about me and you can’t hate someone you don’t know, it’s impossible, surely!), and frankly I couldn’t be fucking arsed to sit around for the next few weeks, whilst they slowly came to realise this themselves, just so I could have the satisfaction of saying “Told you so…you bunch of cunts!”

So I said “Fuck it!” and checked myself out of The Cedars and into the Palm Court Hotel, right on the seafront in Durban, which turned out to be a shithole, full of thieves and con artists (and that was just the staff!)…but…it was located in an area known as ‘The Point’ …which, I had been reliably informed,

was where all the drugs were.

…to be continued

NB…Don Tait was a lovely guy who seemed to emit a glow of real peace and serenity from his very core; I’m just sorry I didn’t get to spend a little more time with him, as I would have loved to have learned how to get just a little of that. He was battling cancer at the time and had serious nerve damage in his legs and feet due to his drinking, however, he still found time to meet with me, several times during my short time there. Thank you Don, I wish for you only good things.

*Special note*

As you can see from the following press release from 2001, Don’s life has been interesting in the extreme:

‘Don Tait had fled to Costa Rica after assaulting his fiancee.

A prominent defence lawyer who fled to Costa Rica while facing charges was jailed for three months yesterday for twice assaulting his former fiancee and disobeying court orders.

Don Tait gave an eloquent apology in a Windsor, Ont. courtroom yesterday in his first public statement since returning drunk and broken from Costa Rica seven months ago.

Ontario Justice Michael O’Dea said: “The fact that Mr. Tait might drink again is still a real risk given the history and the early stage of his recovery.”

He decided the need to denounce and deter Tait’s behaviour outweighed the benefits of letting him continue his rehabilitation in the community

It is expected Tait, who turns 57 next week, will serve his time at the Windsor jail.’



2 Responses to “Recollections from a rehab – part six…”

  1. Says:

    I’m there with you. Great narrative. On point and evocative without being florid or bloated. Nice work. Next…..

  2. Superb piece of writing. Please hurry with next instalment. 🙂

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