The first time I attended a drug rehabilitation it changed by life. When I initially entered rehab as a nineteen-year-old, it struck me: I had a problem with drugs. But I wasn’t sure. My drug of choice was marijuana, a seemingly benign substance that had brought my life into this. Part of me knew that marijuana was harmful and inappropriate, while part of me found great relief and peace with it. Merely nineteen-years-old, I was still very impressionable and open to learning. While still young learning about drug abuse left time for the education experience to make a big difference in my life.
As the result of a court order I enrolled in Janus outpatient programming located near the beach in sunny Santa Cruz, CA. For the next 5 months I would spend three hours a day, three days a week at this sober haven. I was not an experienced drug-user, but I did have several years of marijuana abuse under my belt. Some of the other addicts chided me and made light of my problem, asserting that marijuana use/abuse did not constitute a serious problem. Most of them were much older and involved with “hard” drugs. Despite this they appeared to be good people with a sincere desire to achieve sobriety. I was in denial for a long time after I finished my first bout of treatment, rife with inner conflict. It would not be until 10 years later that I would return to treatment for a second and what I believe will be a more successful period.
This first trip in rehab was very different than my second trip for a number of reasons. This programming did not include a residential element. I had to be present only 3 days a week. In contrast, the type of treatment that I am in now is seven days per week. When comparing them other differences include location and instruction type. Janus programming was highly instructional, rather than just group participation oriented. Now the inpatient/intensive outpatient facility at CAST integrates individual therapy, group therapy and case management. The time spent in groups is often interactive, leaving the floor open to the chattiest addict. At other times the nature of our programming is instructional and encouraging active listening. The latter dominates less than one-quarter of the group-therapy time at CAST.
The instruction provided at Janus was scientific and highly informative. The quality of instruction was so good that it remained in my memory for years following. They explained to us how drugs work in our brains, showing us that following any “high” there will be a “low” unless we use. Then the “low” will be masked by the drugs and a person will feel normal or perhaps high. The high will often be less pronounced even when the same amount of drugs has been consumed because our brains and bodies are becoming tolerant to the drug.
The next ten years of my life I would spend progressing to where I am now. Over that decade I gradually changed my opinion of cannabis. When I was younger I was so addicted to marijuana that I told myself I would never live without it. Quitting seemed so impossible that for many years it was not an option. It is only recently, during my second stint in drug rehabilitation at CAST that I began to think abstinence from marijuana was something I will be able to maintain. This time I am confident that my life will change. This new hope carries with it the belief that a new life is obtainable. I now believe that I can aspire to things that were impossible when I was smoking dope every day. Anyone can quit drugs with the right attitude and the right help. Drug rehabilitation organizations incorporate compassionate care with trained individuals able to provide the help that is needed to reclaim your life!
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