Five Years Ago
On February 3rd, 2016 I was dropped off at a treatment facility. As I exited the car and stood inside the parking garage I was angry, sad, and confused. How is it that at 33 years old, was I standing outside of a rehab facility with a bag full of clothes and no other options? As I stood there and contemplated this, my wife said goodbye and drove away. I had no other choice but to go inside. Walking through the doors of that treatment facility was my way of surrendering to the fact that I couldn’t stop drinking on my own.
The first day inside that facility was painful. I was still hungover from the night before and as the alcohol left my body, I started to shake. Usually, I would take another drink and the shaking would subside. That wasn’t an option this time. After an employee checked my belongings and made me hand over my cologne for fear that I might drink it, I was shown to my room. Once I put my belongings away I went downstairs to see an intake counselor.
The first thing she did was ask me to describe my drinking history. My first thought was to lie and downplay the severity of my drinking. But as I started to talk, I found myself speaking the truth about my drinking. This wasn’t easy, and at times I was embarrassed, but I got through it. When I was done telling her my story, she gave me a packet which contained some information about the facility and what my treatment schedule looked like. As I looked at that packet I remember thinking that the next 35 days were going to be a waste of time. I went back to my room, even more broken than before.
The first couple of days were a blur, but I do remember going where I needed to go and doing what I needed to do, just so I could be left alone. With each passing day, I physically started to feel just a little bit better. Then around night five, I was lying in the dark, eyes wide open, and I decided that I needed to do whatever I could while I was there to work on myself. This was a major turning point in my recovery. So for the next 30 or so days, I did just that.
I went to the individual counseling session, I participated in the group sessions, I even attended the PTSD group therapy. I made the best effort I could at the time to do what was asked of me, and in doing so, I started to understand the severity of my situation. I was (am) an alcoholic and unless I took the necessary action to try and counter that, I would be part of a statistic. Each day was challenging, but every day I was inside that facility was a win because I wasn’t drinking.
For me, going to an inpatient treatment facility for 35 days wasn’t the only stop on my journey towards sobriety, but it was definitely the beginning. What being in that facility did for me was separate me from alcohol for those 35 days and it gave me a sense of hope. It allowed me to gain an understanding that with the right tools, I had a chance at staying sober. Currently, there are other things that I do in my recovery to continue on my path of sobriety, but for me, had it not been for me attending treatment at a facility, I don’t know where I would be.
*The rehab facility I went to was on a military installation, as I was still on active-duty. My counselors were civilians, but the facility was run by the military. Military bearing and appearance was strictly enforced. I got told where to be, when to eat, and my military appearance was inspected daily. It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life.*