Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rehab isn't as the media portrays

I was watching the new 90210 yesterday. And while I am happy they shed light on the issue of teen drug addiction, their portrayal, in my opinion was way off. Adrianna (the character) was using, overdosed and almost died, went into rehab, tried to flee rehab, her friends took her back, she stayed and got better, and now is back into "normal" life, going to school again and dating Naveed, the friend who paid for her rehab, and now its all sunshine and roses. She's never tempted, blahbitty, blah.

Or there is the whole Lindsay Lohan approach that rehab is like a magical retreat one goes on; you're there for 30 - 90 days, and then poof, you're magically cured.

I think too many people out there think of rehab through the media's portrayal. I know I certainly did at first. But its not like that. Its not a cure-all. Life after addiction is never what it was before. Rehab doesn't fix everything. In fact, statistically speaking, most users relapse at some point after leaving rehab. The percentage of those who are truly "cured" is extremely small.

I think this limited and usually highly embellished exposure sets everyone up with false hope and expectations. I know it did that for me. My sister first went into rehab in September 2005. It was a 30-day program at a Seventh-Day Adventist-run rehab facility in the Napa Valley. I went to visit her about 3 weeks into the program for a family session, and it was eye opening. I realized then that they weren't all going to stay clean. Still, I figured my sister was one of them that was going to make it. She seemed to be taking it seriously, so I figured it was a done deal. She was intellectual enough to realize that using drugs is stupid and a worthless way to spend your life. I figured since she was smart enough, that staying clean was a given. She'd been to rehab so it was over, end of story. So imagine my heartache and sheer shock when I learned the following March that she had relapsed clear back in October! I was crushed, angry, and felt like a total fool.

Rehab takes work. Its a rehabilitation and restoration of every level; spiritual, emotional, physical, mental. If they aren't willing to put in the daily introspection, self-cleansing, and leg work to actually change their life, then its not going to happen. I thought through the love of me and my family, it was a done deal. Unfortuanately, it just doesn't work like that. Since then, she has relapsed countless times and been back into rehab twice. It wasn't until she almost died before going into rehab for the 3rd time, that she finally realized she had too much to lose. Still, like Adrianna, during the toughest point of rehab she tried to run away from the center. Its not all sunshine and roses. Rehab makes you deal with those parts of yourself that you hate and have spent so much time, energy, and money trying to self-medicate against.

My point is, rehab isn't a miracle. It isn't a retreat. It isn't fun. It isn't easy. And it isn't permanent. It is very hard work. It is dealing with the years of pain and heartache. It is deciding to live a better life. It is beating the statistical odds. And the statistics don't lie.

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