When I first went to rehab, I didn’t know what to expect. To be honest, I was in a haze for days after I got there. I was twenty-two years old, and my drinking had gotten to the point where I should have died numerous times. Days before I entered rehab, I had to drink a pint of vodka just to get out of bed, then I’d go buy enough alcohol to get me through the day without having panic attacks or whole-body shakes.
I was a mess.
I was forced by the state of Florida to go to an inpatient rehab facility after a super luxurious stay in the local psych ward, but I wasn’t upset about it. I didn’t have the first clue about rehabs or how to get into one; some would call this a “God moment.” A wonderful, glorious case worker did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.
Trying to Fit In
I walked into the South Florida treatment center and immediately noticed I was surrounded by women who looked a lot like me. Whatever preconceived notions I had were gone – until I was blindsided.
I was the only patient there due to problems with alcohol. My roommates and others from the group all had problems with opiates – prescription painkillers and heroin. What’s more, I was the only person there from South Florida; everyone else was from the Northeast. I was confused and wondered if this really was the right place for me.
Did I really need rehab if my problem was “just” with alcohol? Was my problem not as bad since I’d never used needles or bought drugs off the street?
I had to think hard about this. Was my life unmanageable? Absolutely. Did I wake up everyday with a feeling of sheer hopelessness? Of course. Was my health failing due to drinking? I had the medical bills to prove it.
Coming to Terms
Slowly but surely, I realized that it wasn’t about the “substance of choice.”
I related to these women on an emotional and spiritual level. We all felt incredible guilt and shame, alienated our friends and families, and faced legal consequences. However, what really brought us together was the fact that we felt so alone.
I learned that whatever drink or drug we used to deal with our issues didn’t actually matter. We related to one another because of the feelings we were running from.
It’s a commonly held belief that picking up drinks and drugs to the extent we did was just a symptom of a bigger problem, and I didn’t need another hurdle in the way of my recovery. I’ll be forever grateful that I learned to let these meaningless differences go.
Additional Reading: 5 Powerful Lessons Learned From My Addiction
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