Sober For Myself and No One Else

It’s been awhile since I have continued with my adventure in post detox Danvers. I left off after my first conversation with Lindsay, my case worker. To sum up briefly, she told me AA was not necessarily right for everyone and maybe I did not need AA to stay sober. She explained that I had two sides to my thought process, addictive and rational, and it was on me to decide which voice I listened to. I ended my first full day at Danvers convinced I would not complete the ten day program. I was going to leave on Saturday, six days after I arrived. I was ready to move on.

Between that Tuesday conversation with Lindsay and Saturday; I grew a lot. In order to ‘stay’ sober I had to come to fully believe, for myself, that this was about and for only me. Drugs and alcohol are everywhere and the halls of post detox are no exception. In Massachusetts, detoxes are extremely accessible, almost to a fault I would argue. Many folks use the services to clean up for a couple of days then go right back out to using once fed, medicated, and feeling better. It is an endless cycle that the liberal government of Massachusetts allows to continue. At Bourne wood (my first detox) drugs were prevalent, some prescribed from the hospital and others hustled in by visitors.

I thought the drug use would end in post-detox. After all, this was a ‘post’ program. I naïvely believed that the folks in post detox would want to be sober since it was a program you attended coming out of detox and was opened only to clients willing to sign themselves in. I learned that, while it was a completely volunteer program, there were still many reasons for some folks to attend other than to get sober. One gentlemen just wanted his kids back and according to the courts, while not mandated to stay out of jail, a completion of the program would get him visitation rights. Another young lady wanted Mom and Dad’s support again. While renewed trust from my parents was important for me as well, it was not the reason I was there (and I don’t have any kids).

The drug use at Danvers was even more prevalent than at Bournewood! After getting friendly with one kid at the program, on Thursday he eventually told me he had snuck several oxy’s in, and then he asked if I wanted a line. It was a breaking point. Up until at that point my natural reaction would have been ‘Hell yes!’ And I literally felt my brain forming the questions to ask: where are we going to do it, how much money, how much do you have? I wanted a fix so bad by that Thursday. However, the first real miracle of my sobriety happened as I politely declined. It was as if someone was controlling my words when I said, ‘No thank you.’

That night, I was sick to my stomach. I was not special by any means. The offer for a line was passed on to other non-sketchy patients. The following day the staff felt something was array. They issued us all drug tests and three of the patients were kicked out. Had I given in I do not believe I would be here today, still sober. If anything, I learned a great deal about how to focus on myself. As far as I am concerned, this is the most important element to stay within your means. You simply cannot base your actions on other people’s decisions. The act to snort a line would have only proven that I needed help, which was obvious given the fact that I was there. I mean what more did I have to prove to anyone. I am an addict trying to get help, addicts drink and use drugs. I was trying to break that cycle regardless of what others were trying to do.

Seeing other people high while I was trying to get better was very difficult, and only led to enforce my decision to leave Saturday. In fact, one of my roommates who also knew about the oxy’s decided to leave the program in fear of his own sobriety. It made sense to leave if you could not stay sober around drugs. I did not think I could either, so my exit early on Saturday seemed like the correct decision regardless of what my parents thought.

On Friday I had another conversation with Lindsay. I explained I did not feel safe and was going to leave the following day. She explained that she knew drugs were on the unit and gave me a drug test. She then told me that the kid who mentioned the fact that drugs were on the unit failed to mention any names. I told her that I had no clue, and that I was just trying to focus on myself.

Linsday went on, “I am not asking you to rat on anyone, Aaron, that would make you even more unsafe. However, I really hope this drug test is going to be clean.”

“It will be.”
“What I want to know is, why are you leaving tomorrow?”

“I want to move on.”

“I get that, but…”

“I can’t have visitor’s and I miss my girl so bad.

“How about this: if I arrange something with the program manager, make the visit with your girl beneficial to your recovery and have her visit on Sunday, will you stick it out to Wednesday?”

This seemed fair to me. At the end of the day, the drugs would be gone and I could see my girlfriend. That afternoon a meeting with her on Sunday was arranged. I changed my decision, I would stick it out the full ten days.

Not taking the oxy that Thursday night made me stronger. I never turned down such an offer in my life and it felt great to do so. Yes, I am a negotiator and I negotiated a visit with my girlfriend. While visits were rarely welcomed, I got one! It was the reason I agreed to complete the program. Seeing my girlfriend was a compromise for me to stay the full ten days.

I was anxious for Sunday. I missed her so much and was really looking forward to seeing her. I turned down drugs for the first time in my life and was on track to complete the program! I had learned about focusing on me. Alcohol is everywhere. If I wanted to make it in the real world I had to be able to accept the fact that others drink and I cannot. Looking back over the last eight months I feel like everyone drinks but me, even those who are supposedly trying to get sober. I have met many folks who are kicking heroine but still drink. This is why I stress our individual paths. And while I often look down on heroine addicts drinking I cannot let it lead me to drink. I understand the progression of the disease and that nine times out of ten heroine addicts who pick up drinking again will eventually see another needle in their arms. While this is very depressing, I cannot let it affect me. This is the most important factor to my sobriety. The oxy’s on the unit was the first real test for me before I left. I passed the exam! In the months ahead I would pass several such tests.

Sunday came around very slowly. Our scheduled meeting was for three o’clock. My girlfriend arrived, but then nurse informed me, “However Lindsay, does not arrive till four and she needs to be here for the meeting. The visit was never documented.”

“So she has to wait an hour?” I asked.

“I am afraid so.” She explained.

An hour went by when finally Lindsay arrived. Another half hour went by before she brought me into her office. At this point I was very upset. Lindsay sat me down, “The program manger never signed off on the meeting.” She explained.

“She cannot meet you today.” She said.

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