Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oh. My. God. I have never seen such a fluffy, New Age hand-holding, pillow-fluffing rehab like that in my LIFE. THAT'S rehab? That's how to get people off heroin and crack?


I admit I'm old-school when it comes to thinking about addiction and treatment, and definitely, I believe in alternative methods beyond the 12 Steps should those be neccessary. And hey, if I could afford a $38,000 a month stay in this place, it would be a pretty nice place to detox. As opposed to the places where the po' folk have to get straight. Ahem. But I'll save my Marxist rant for later...

So yes, I'm a bit of a "get your shit together and quit whining" kind of gal when it comes to sobriety. Believe or not. I just think you have to do the work, and that addicts have clever little manipulatons and all manner of "you're not gonna make me" issues going on that require some metaphorical butt-kicking. Which isn't to say that they don't deserve a nice place to sleep or a pool or yoga and personal on-to-one therapy, or that I don't understand that they need compassion and tenderness while they're developing tools to deal with pain and life in general. I do.

But let's be realistic here. Is it okay that someone in rehab can leave any time they want with a "sober companion" ( that would be me) to go shopping? That the "program assistant" picks up their dishes, puts them in the dishwasher, sets places for dinner, has a 3 page list of neating up things to do in each room of the facility so that the clients don't have to see any messiness? Is it okay that if I have to take them on an outing, and one of them has to use the restroom that I should trust that this person isn't going to sneak a taste if he/she can, and I should let them go alone??

These and a few other issues were brought to the fore today when I went to my interview at Swanky Rehab. I knew it was going to challenge my "grrr!" response that I get when I'm surrounded by privilige and sheltered wealth ( I mean, I bought $30 shoes today and I'm freaking out about the cost. ). But I tried to think of it in terms of this place perhaps being an alternative way of approaching rehab and forget the fact that people are paying through the nose to not have to really feel the pain of their lives, as they've helped create them, sink to the bottom of the barrell.

I was told today by the woman who would be my immediate supervisor that cleaning up was very important because "any kind of mess stresses the clients out. We want them to be calm. We want them not to worry in any way about those sorts of things. Besides, many of our clients have become accustomed to living with maids and such, and we wouldn't want to disrupt the flow of that lifestyle for them. It would be very stressful."

Um, sure. And obviously, living with maids at your beck and call has been working so well that you're spending all your money on blow? So continuing this pattern is going to heal them. Hmmm.

I was told today that if I was to take a group to an outing, I needn't worry about any member going off unsupervised to the restroom and possibly getting the hook up, because, "most of our clients are older, you know, adults. They're not younger adults in their 20s who are more prone to impulsive behavior like trying to get alcohol, etc."

Right. Because being out of his 20s has worked so well for someone like Scott Weiland. Or Robert Downey, Jr. (You know, the kind of people who have $38,000 to spend on rehab). And addicts: definitely using their best judgement and not impulse-control deficient in any way. At least not past the age of 25. Of course.

"H ( the president) likes everything to be perfect. Really perfect. All the time. So we are cleaning alot. We really want it to be like a spa. Comfortable. A hotel like atmosphere."

Okay, you're paying big money to stay, I get it. Food better be good and they had better have 1500 thread-count sheets, KWIM? But perfectionism and controlling, not at ALL something an addict needs to get the fuck over. Nope. Learning to tolerate distress, or change or failings in self or others that fall short of unrealistic expectations? Nope. By all means, let them continue on that path and continue to torture their family and friends with their lack of humility and tolerance. This is getting better ALL THE TIME!!

"Listen, you will never see more entitlement issues than you see here. But I swear to you, it's not as bad as you think. We do encourage clients to take responsibility and fully engage in treatment. " ( This said to me by co-pres, C, after I made my philosophical issues known-dipolmatically, of course). FINALLY, some insight! Entitlement issues! Taking responsibility!! Treatment plans! Oh my golly!

Synopsis: I remain skeptical. I remain cycnical. (I was telling my therapist J about this tonight and she laughed her head off at the idea that an addict got to leave rehab whenever he/she wanted. ). It could work for some people. I was informed that the majority of their clients were there for stress and burnout ( very popular terms around in LA, whereas the po' folk get to call it "depression" and go to the mental health clinic. Rich people get to go the spa. And if you're addicted to drugs and poor, you get to suck it up and detox cold in a state facility and then go to AA. Rich folks get to get Enya, massage, slow-med released detox, yoga, and some sorry fool like me picking up their Diet Coke cans. There. My Marxist outburst....I've been holding it in all day....). That their clients were very high functioning. (All I wanted to say was "OF COURSE they're high functioning! They don't have to do much TO function, because everything is taken care of for them!! " ). That they just needed rest and therapy and good healing.

Ya know, many a time in my past, when I've been sick, I've longed for a place like this, the old style sanatorium-style places where you're on a "rest cure" and there are green grounds to roam and art to make and doctors who care and therapists who aren't overloaded and the atmosphere is peaceful and calm. So I'm not against it. I'm not.

What I'm balking against is the fact that most of these people are likely in need of something more akin to some reality-therapy on the order of: you are rich and unhappy. You have lost touch with who you are and your connection to others in an authentic way. You are often bored and lonely and sad. And you feel entitled to happiness and reward, whether or not you have earned it. You use drugs to entertain yourself and numb yourself to the meaninglessness you feel and it has gotten out of hand and now your body and your mind are exhausted and your attitude needs retooling. You will get out of bed the same time every day. You will eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at specific times, and you will eat real food. You will go to therapy and you will go to groups and you will work to keep this facility up to speed because you need to learn responsibility and consequences. You will have chores. You will get a sense of accomplishment from them because they are simple things that you have lost touch with, and it will allow you to regain humility and respect for all things. Because your actions have proven to be untrustworthy, you will be supervised at all times and your visitors will be searched. You will learn to be grateful for privilges restored to you, as they will mirror in metaphor the trust you need to re-earn with the people in your life that your addiction has hurt. You will go to bed at the same time every day, and thank god you're not dead from your indulgences and this disease.

That is what they need. Not me to fluff their pillows.

Maybe the Betty Ford Center is hiring. Good gravy.