Its been five and a half years since my first three month stay in rehab. At the time, I was 23 and the youngest resident. As you can probably imagine, it was a strange environment to walk into. There were residents in rehab from all different walks of life, such as army vets, a pub landlord, retirees, a driving instructor, people coming straight from prison and even a west end performer.
I can honestly say, with my hand and on my heart, that I met some of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met during my two stays. We all had one huge obvious thing in common, and that helped us form friendships. To this day, I’m still friends with people from that stay in 2013!
I stayed in the same rehab again in 2015. It was a huge old manor house in the countryside. Your days were timetabled like they would be at school, but instead of lessons you had group therapy, counselling etc. with free time in the evenings and at weekends. For the first month you were not allowed to leave the premises at all. After this you get to walk to the shop once a day and so on.
People often ask me if rehab was the reason I managed to stop drinking and turn my life around, and I can never say a straight up ‘yes’. This is because both times I went to rehab, I was drinking again soon after leaving. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story.
I learnt a hell of a lot and gained many tools to fight my alcohol addiction whilst in rehab. Those things I learnt still help me today and have definitely contributed to me turning my life around and staying sober. Rehab works for so many people! I know people who are still sober from my stay with them in 2013.
The thing is, you must be ready for it. It must be your time. Both times for me, I wasn’t ready. I thought I was when I first walked through those doors, but within a month I would get a seed of ‘what if’ or ‘maybe I could’ in my head. Just one tiny thought that maybe I could drink socially when I left, that I could control it. Once that seed of thought was in my head, I began to plan it.
What I should have done, was told someone what was going on in my head. I should have talked about it straight away! It’s amazing how quickly that seed can grow, the longer I left the thought in my head without telling anyone, the stronger it got. And the closer I came to relapsing. Eventually, I finished rehab, and it wasn’t long before I was drinking again.
This does not mean I’m saying rehab doesn’t work, far from it. It does, for so many people! But from my experience, you have to be 110% committed, and if you get any thoughts of doubt when you’re in there, the worst thing you can do is bottle it up like I did. Sounds like obvious advice, but it wasn’t obvious to me back then when I was in amongst it!
If I ever get a seed of doubt in my head again, the first thing I will be doing is telling someone and talking about. For me personally, telling someone that I want a drink or I’m thinking about having a drink is like lifting a weight off my shoulders.
So, if you are trying to stay sober right now, but you have a ‘seed’ in your head, don’t make the mistake I made over and over again. That thought will likely be your downfall, unless you deal with it by talking about it. Don’t bottle it up!
Thank you so much for reading, Toby.