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For Professionals With Substance Abuse Challenges

From the perspective of a participant

I’m not sure when or how it all started

but I know I have been battling addictions of some form or another for most of my life.

About a year ago I hit what I thought was rock bottom. I had been sober this time, for about a year and a half and I felt like I was on my way to beating this thing. I had a great job, I was engaged to get married, and things appeared to be going my way… And then, seemingly out of nowhere (Covid19) appeared and within a month I had lost my job, started drinking and my fiancée told me she was leaving me. I had lost my job, my potential marriage and more than anything, my dignity.

My fiancé has finally given up on my failed attempts.

Each relapse made it harder and harder for her to believe in me. I understood that completely, but I knew there wasn’t anything I could do to convince her that I could stay sober. I didn’t even believe it myself. To date, I have been to 3 treatment facilities and they all seemed to work for a little while but when I get back to my real life and a major Life event happens, I don’t seem to have the strength to “not drink”. Some of the problems that I faced while in the treatment facilities were:

  • I seemed like I never got to meet with my therapist. Each program only allowed you to see your therapist one time a week for 45 minutes. That was not near enough time to address the issues that have caused me to want to drink in the first place.

  • We did go to three groups a day and that really helped me to see that I am not alone with my issues but honestly I just ended up listening to war stories of everyone’s drinking and learning how fucked up some people really are. In one of our groups I learned how to cross stitch which is nice.

  • They use the same approach with everyone. Like everyone started using for the same reason and magically the same steps are going to work with every person. That is why there is over a 90% failure rate with most treatment facilities.

  • I had to share a room with a dude that snored so loud I could never get to sleep. So, I fell asleep during most groups during the day, which was not really beneficial for my treatment.

  • In one of the facilities I was at, one of the residents was able to smuggle in some cocaine which made for a very exciting couple of days in treatment.

  • One of the biggest challenges that I faced while being in treatment is the isolation and loneliness. They would not let us have contact with anyone. I felt like I was being punished for being bad or weak and they had to remove my support system.

After I got out of the first facility,

I found out that I had received a formal diagnosis of “alcoholism” because I used my insurance to pay for a portion of it. I had no idea that I had to get a diagnosis and that was going to be on my permanent record. That can affect many things including working for the government or life insurance. Nobody told me this prior to going through my insurance.

Because I went to these facilities, people at my work found out and I believe that was one of the underlying reasons I was let go. They said it was COVID but I believe it is different.

They didn’t help me at all with developing an aftercare plan or a relapse prevention plan. When our program was over it was over. That is one of the big reasons I believed I relapsed because I didn’t have a plan in place. You see, I thought I had become an expert at hiding my drinking. I had a very successful job that I was extremely good at but I started missing meetings and making poor decisions due to drinking and hangovers. I genuinely “believed” I was hiding my drinking from my bosses, fiancee and co-workers although later I found out that they all knew.

I had been seeing a therapist at the time of losing my job and my relapse. The pandemic had just started and no treatment facilities were available to attend. We came up with a number of short fix solutions including an on-line virtual AA component and virtual day treatment. This was not enough to stop or curb my addiction struggles. I then asked my therapist if he would be willing to take me to a remote, peaceful and serene cabin in the woods for a couple weeks to do addiction treatment with me. He was reluctant at first but quickly realized he was seeing all of his current clients remotely, so he decided to give it a shot.

My therapist just happened to have experience in addictions, wilderness programs, trauma therapy, EMDR, and peak performance training as well as helping first responders with PTSD. He has also worked with professional athletes around the world helping them to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. That is exactly what he was able to do for me. It was amazing how prepared he was for this type of excursion. It was like he had been planning my very own, custom-tailored journey for years. We agreed to the location, the price and all the expectations/rules that he had created to make it a valuable and safe experience. He was very thorough, and we stayed far away from access to any potential substances as well as far away from the distractions and pressures of society that I’d soon identify to be triggers for my addiction.

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