We had a really great visit with 25 on Sunday. He looks great and all of the other men there in the program were very complimentary of him and what he had “brought to the group.” I was amazed at the width and breadth of these men. More on that a few lines down.
As for our son, his old personality has reappeared and was on full display. He is a people person, which made him cocooning in his room with the blinds drawn tight and the lights out 20 hours a day painful. Seeing him back happy and interacting with people again was great. He introduced us to every man, young and old alike, in the program and had a little of their backstory already prepared to tell us. No, not about their reason for being at the program, but more on their family, their jobs, what made them who they are as a person. One guy, my age, he introduced as his “personal trainer”. Silver, as I will call him because at 49 his is completely grey, celebrated his birthday the day after he arrived. He is in great shape and loves to work out. 25 wants to be healthy and always loved working out in high school. Maybe he will develop good habits. 3 days a week he doesn’t have a choice…they make them do yoga and his posture is 100% improved. He actually stands his full 6′ 2″ again.
He has tried for years to grow a beard and just couldn’t. When we walked in to the cafeteria, where the residents waited for their families, the first thing I noticed was he had buzzed his hair again, which had gotten long and unkempt, and his beard was thick and full. I am not sure the drugs had anything to do with it or not…all I know is he looked great with short cropped hair with his ginger beard…the Irish coming out of us I guess.
We tried not to talk about anything related to the past at this visit. However, he did explain his realization that he had a problem, how he has diligently worked through step 1 of the 12 step program, having just completed it the Friday before our visit, and was moving on to steps 2 & 3. In the past, he has violently refused to even consider the 12 step program. Remember, he wanted to be a pharmacist, then a counselor, and then a chemist and the whole time he has done massive amounts of reading and research on addiction recovery. He thought he knew how to kick the addiction by himself. Thankfully, I truly believe the experiences of May 19th (even though he doesn’t remember a good 3 hours of time) have rattled him to the core.
We sat and talked for 3.5 hours. We talked about card games. We talked about the facility and grounds…they are quiet, peaceful, and absolutely stunning: nestled in the mountains complete with a river and waterfall right behind the main building. He walked us to some of the meditation spots he visits regularly as he told us about the young man who had just checked out the preceding Wednesday who really helped get him grounded. This 20 year old who had a nasty meth habit. As we were walking, he said his friend had told him, “I wasted two weeks here not getting out in nature…we are going to explore it together.” I told him that I have always used nature to heal myself and that he should take full advantage of the silence and beauty around him to recharge.
The best thing we talked about was his realization and desire to stay in the program for the full 12 weeks: 6 weeks of residential and 6 weeks of step down extended care. His question was “if it is financially an option I would really like to stay…” My response was immediate and to the point: “You don’t worry about that…you stay as long as you need.” We are committed to his recovery as much as we would be if he had some other life threatening disease. Money is not a consideration. We may go in debt but he will get the treatment and time he needs.
So, about his new acquaintances. Anonymity is key. Yeah most of the men introduced themselves with their full names but I tried to remember only their first name…of course they all get nicknames here:
Gamecock: this is a guy 25 met and was friends with while he was attending the University of South Carolina. A great looking young man who had earned his accounting degree, CPA, and a six figure job with a major international firm based out of Charlotte as a financial auditor. He has traveled the world with this company. The only problem: a $2500 a week pain pill habit. He hadn’t gone to heroin because he could afford the pills. He had completed a short rehab stint last year and had been sober for 7 months when he hit steps 8 & 9: make a list of people you have hurt and make amends to those people. He couldn’t handle it and fell hard. I remember 25 talking about a kid in Charlotte by this name. Gamecock also brought sad news. One of their mutual friends, yes another addict, had overdosed and died earlier this year on heroin. It was his birthday and his parents couldn’t get him to answer his phone so they went to his apartment and found him slumped over the table with the needle still in his arm. 25 choked up talking about it. Gamecock came in with the intent of staying 12 weeks as well. I hope he gets where he needs to be.
Silver: already described above. Silver told us himself about his alcohol and cocaine problem and said 25 was the best thing to happen for him while there. He looked at him face to face and told him: “You are too smart to be here…but we all have our demons.” I could see 25 really liked and respected him. They work out together every day.
Grandpa: a gentlemen in his 60’s. Not sure why he was in rehab but he was pleasant and complimentary of our son.
19: This is 25’s roommate. Young, fresh faced, and finally diagnosed with acute anxiety. Didn’t say much but 25 speaks good things about him.
Dad: We walked in with a Grandma and two young boys. They were there for Dad. He is a late 30’s man on his second stint in a rehab program. He told us himself about his cocaine habit and how he had that under control. Unfortunately, he let alcohol take the place of the cocaine and spiraled…horribly. It was fun to watch how Grandma had, with approval and after inspection, slipped a birthday present to Dad to give to his 4 year old who had just had a birthday.
Peanut: a 50 something peanut farmer from Georgia. As country as they come. Alcohol and cocaine sent him here.
I met a few others only to say hello. There are about 20 men in the program so we met 7 of them. All good men. All dealing with their issues. All thankful for this chance at sobriety. I am glad we found this program for him!