Rehab: A Woman’s Perspective

My first experience with rehab started behind the double locked doors and barred windows of a psychiatric hospital. It was the detox facility that had a bed at 10 o’clock at night, and my parents were desperate to get me in somewhere before I changed my mind again. I had just failed out of grad school due to my prescription pill addiction.

They brought me into the nurse’s office, and I sat there, terrified and confused, as I watched people being escorted into the lobby in shackles. My upper middle class background had not prepared me for this. When the nurse asked me about my using history, I lied and downplayed, because I couldn’t stand the thought that I belonged here, with “these people.” I started to regret that decision when they took me at my word and put me on the lowest dose of detox meds. My withdrawal symptoms started immediately, and I wanted to die.

A few days later, I was transferred to a rehab facility in the area. At that point, I was just grateful that I no longer had to smoke cigarettes inside a locked cage. I still believed I didn’t belong there, and as a result, I didn’t stay sober after that first treatment center. It took three stints at three different rehab facilities for me to put together some clean time. It’s amazing, though, how similar the rehab experience was at each place I went to.

Rehab is like a tragic comedy; a rollercoaster of emotions in an environment that at any one time can be dysfunctional, heartbreakingly sad, hopeful, and hilarious. It was like a really f-ed up version of summer camp. Except all the campers are adults and totally insane.

We had to be up promptly at 6:30am, and were required to have the apartments cleaned by the 7:30 am for room inspection. We were all on some type of non-narcotic medication- usually antidepressants or mood stabilizers and sleep meds. So if you had a dose of meds to take in the AM, you’d go line up in an incredibly long med line and wait for the techs to dole them out. At 8:30, the white “druggie buggie” would arrive to cart us over to the “center.” Our days at the center consisted of a combo of group therapy and individual therapy. At nights, we’d load back up in the van and go to local 12-step meetings. Then it was sleep meds and bed.

In between all of this, there was a lot of chain smoking, joking, crying, boredom, eating, and naps. In the evenings after meetings, we’d sit on the back porch, laughing and smoking, as we discussed the only two topics we ever seemed to talk about- sex and drugs. It’s was a beautiful thing, though, after all those years of hiding my addiction, to tell people about it, all the things I had done and been through, and have them look back at me calmly and say “Oh yeah, I did that too.”

If you or someone is in need of a women’s drug rehab call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at www.palmpartners.com.