By the time I got to the rehabilitation centre I’d been using and abusing drugs and alcohol for over twenty years. A once promising career in the arts was destroyed, my family had disowned me and my friends didn’t want to know me. I’d been in a psychiatric unit and spent years in and out of detoxes trying to get clean.
I had tried another rehab, moving cities, psychiatry, university, relationships and work. I could get clean but couldn’t stay clean. I simply did not know how to live without drugs.
In amongst this chaos I’d had two children that I was trying to parent on my own. Towards the end of my using I had voluntarily put them into foster care because it was painfully apparent that I was incapable of taking care of them. I loved them too much to keep them with me in the wretched life I was living. It broke my heart.
I believed I was a hopeless case, destined to spend the rest of my life miserable and alone. For me, the experience of the rehabilitation centre was bigger than the sum of its parts. For the first time in as long as I could remember I was participating in something. Namely, my own life. I felt safe enough to fall apart and was loved — sometimes “tough loved” — back onto my feet. I had thought going to the rehabilitation centre was the end of the road for me, but in fact it was just the beginning.
Even more than the education/information I was given at the rehabilitation centre, which is invaluable in my day to day living, I learnt a sense of community that I can give to others and receive from them as well, that “I am a part of.” To that end, I’ve just started volunteer work at the rehabilitation centre because, damn, I’m just not quite ready to leave home!
Today I’m fifteen months clean and sober. I have some good friends; my relationships with my family are healing. I live in a beautiful place with my beautiful daughters and when they are barefoot it’s because they choose to be, not because they don't have any shoes to wear.
It’s seven months since this article was written. Alice has just resumed tertiary study at University and is thrilled about it. She has spent much time learning how to re-parent her two children, who continue to live with her and her partner — also a recovering addict and a fantastic man! The kids are really stable and happy and have a loving home environment as their base. Alice has recently performed in local theatre productions in her area, and has returned to singing of late, and continues on with a program of drug and alcohol free living. She’s very busy and her life grows in richness, love and fulfilment!