When I Checked into a Alcohol Treatment Facility
A little over three years ago I found myself checking into a 28-day treatment facility for alcoholism, a couple hours away from my hometown in North Carolina. I called and had three days to get ready, until a bed was going to be available for me. The preparation was reminiscent of getting ready for summer camp when I was a little girl. My mom and I went to Wal-Mart with a checklist of approved and non-approved items, and filled our cart with the approved necessities.
It was a humbling experience—the first of many to come.
I had no idea what rehab was about, or what they did, or how they got people to stay sober. I just knew I needed help. I had proven to myself that I couldn’t do it own my own. I had tried many times unsuccessfully and was baffled as to why I couldn’t just stop. I had finally reached a point where I was willing to try; I would do anything they asked of me if I could just not want to take a drink. I remember thinking that it would be a miracle if my desire and obsession to drink could be removed. It seemed impossible.
Each week a counselor would take me and the seven other girls in treatment to Wal-Mart to replenish our snacks and toiletries. I remember avoiding the beer and wine aisle on the first week but on the second week, I thought I’d walk down it to make sure nothing had changed.
Sure enough same bottles, same labels, same price as ten days earlier. Nothing had changed, except I was able to walk away from them.
I was able to walk away because I played the tape through in my head: what it would look like if I took a six-pack into the bathroom and chugged them before having to load back in the van with the other girls?
And it didn’t look good.
I could have been arrested for shoplifting. Six beers weren’t going to get me drunk, only leave me wanting more. I would have either gotten kicked out of rehab or left on my own, because let’s face it…I wouldn’t stop at just six.
It wasn’t too long after I walked through the doors of rehab that my obsession with drinking was gone. Sure, the desire was still there but that was manageable and eventually my desire to drink became less and less.
I had learned in my short time in treatment that it wasn’t the sixth or tenth or twelfth beer that gets me drunk, it’s the first. For years, I had tried to figure out how to control and enjoy my drinking, and for years I failed. So when I learned that it is the first drink, it made perfect sense. I didn’t necessarily like learning that information. My hope was that rehab was going to teach me how to control my drinking, but that idea was quickly smashed.
I don’t think there is only one way to get sober.
However, I can only speak from my own experience on how I got sober and how I stay sober.
Rehab didn’t cure me, what rehab did was give me the desire to stay sober one day at a time and enough hope that it was possible. It gave me enough knowledge about the disease of alcoholism for me to accept that I am, in fact, an alcoholic. It laid a solution out in the form of 12-steps as a program of recovery. It showed me a way a life, through other people, that was desirable.
My counselors in rehab let me know that it wasn’t going to always be easy, but it would be worth it and they were right.
The rehab center sold these t-shirts that said, “I believe in miracles. You’re looking at one.”
I didn’t really understand what that meant at the time, but I do today. The fact that I walked out those doors over three years ago and have not taken a drink for the past 1,121 days is a miracle.
In fact, it’s 1,121 miracles.
About the Author
Allison Hudson shares about her struggles with alcoholism and life in recovery on her blog, It’s a Lush Life, and is a feature blogger on The Huffington Post and regular contributor on AfterParty Magazine. When not writing, she is working on the opening of Will’s Place, a sober living facility in memory of her brother who died from a drug overdose in 2012, that is set to open spring 2016.