Therapy. It's a part of every rehab experience, although I hear most don't offer the degree or amount of hands-on, counseling care I'm receiving at Axis. I see someone twice a week here, and if the need for more shrinking arises, more shrinking will be provided. Still, I have to admit there are a few times when I just don't feel like going. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to delve into my personal life—my desires, fears, feelings. But when I get like that, my therapist, Shay, reminds me why I'm here and stresses the positives of rehab and what I've achieved so far. After all, I used to cope with uncomfortable thoughts or feelings by drowning them with scotch. Today I'm learning, one day at a time, to look at these thoughts and feelings as what my pal Kenny calls, "AFGO's" (i.e., Another F%#@ing Growth Opportunity!" (Kenny, btw, is a 19-year-old meth addict and one of my best friends here. An example of how our disease makes equals of us all, and how our shared recovery can bind people of all stripes and colors.)
Shay and I talk about coming up with a practical plan of action, one that is solution-oriented rather than problem-oriented. The best thing about this addiction recovery therapy is I'm not just spinning my wheels here; I am devising a blueprint that will reinforce my goal to remain sober after treatment. I'm also learning about my triggers—what makes me want to use—and how to handle myself when they get pushed. It's usually when I'm super stressed—clients and pressures at work get to me. But it can also be the social times—when I'm hanging with my friends and everyone's drinking. I don't want to stop (I can't) at just one or two. In the past it was an easy and fast solution to turn to alcohol and meds. But I realize now that using was just a Band-Aid. It didn't ease my stress effectively—just alleviated it temporarily, but always with major negative long-term repercussions.
At Axis, I go twice a week to Shay for an hour. During that time I am taught communication skills and other ways to express, and handle, my stress and anxiety. I can't wait to try them out with Jenny and Ryder. Before coming here, things were pretty bad between us—I was pretty bad. I had a short fuse and would snap over the tiniest things. I was angry, stressed, and often took that out on both of them. Ryder has looked at me in fear more than once, and that is a horrible feeling. And Jenny refused to sleep in the same room as me when we'd argue and would say I was turning into a monster. After I'd yell at them, I would feel bad, but that remorse was fleeting and I kept doing it—it's like I couldn't help it. (The same way I couldn't stop the drinking even long after I knew it wasn't working for me anymore.) But I knew that if I kept treating them this way, I would lose them. Why would they stay and take that? I don't want my son to look at me in fear. I don't want my wife to turn away in anger. Drugs and alcohol let me ignore their feelings and hurt, as much as it allowed me to ignore my own pain. I was numb and self-absorbed, but it's clear to me now how much damage I caused.
My therapy at Axis has been an essential part of my recovery, and has helped me realize I not only have to stop using, I have to change my behavior. I'm just grateful that my family is still around—that it's not too late to change. I've heard people say it's never too late to change, but I have no interest in putting that theory to the test!
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Disclaimer: This is a fictitious depiction of a patient's experience undergoing treatment for addiction. It is written on behalf of and sponsored by Axis Residential. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Experiences associated with addiction treatment can vary widely and this post may not reflect all such experiences. To learn more about the process of being treated for addiction, please contact Axis Residential.