I don’t care what you see on TV, unless you or someone who really cares about you is rolling in cash, you’re not going to see a rehab in Malibu. Not even close.
Not to mention, I will never trust a rehab facility run by a guy named Pax who claims that he used to be an addict, but “now I’m not”, because to clear things up for you, if you were ever an addict in the past, you will ALWAYS be an addict. You can be a recovering addict and not use substances anymore, but you’re still an addict.
You can’t just not be an addict someday. There is no cure.
Did I also mention that Pax’s rehab center is a for-profit rehab and he is currently worth $15 million dollars? I’m fairly certain Pax could give a rats ass if you recover or not. In fact, your relapse will just make him more money.
Join me in my journey through VA rehab, would you?
Now that, ladies and gents, is what a rehab really looks like. It’s not big and fancy with huge glass windows and floating fairies that bring you your meds while unicorns frolic on the manicured lawn.
It’s a gray box with a shitty parking lot in the bad part of town, across the street from the Fire Department.
This building is less the rehab and more the Delinquent Housing. There is no rehabbing going on in there. Mon – Fri we all pack into the fancy limo and we go over to the hospital for our classes. These classes go from 8 until noon, then we go to lunch for an hour and then have one more class until 2:00, at which point our day is basically done.
From 2:00 until 3:30, we spend most of the time waiting on the various shuttle buses that will take us back to where the limo dropped us off and the we wait for the limo, which eventually gets us back to the gray box around 4:00.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are special. They give us a half hour to go to WalMart.
Otherwise, the remainder of the evening is spent at the gray box. There are no activities. There is no basketball court or horseshoe pit. We can’t have our laptops and there is no wifi. The available activities include:
- Go to your room and read
- Go to your room and sleep
- Watch whatever is on the one TV in the building
- Go outside and smoke
- Attempt to type a blog post on your phone
What I’m trying to say is, there is a whole lot of bored going on at the gray box.
Lest we forget the amazing cuisine we get served around 4:30:
I did not steal that pic from Google. That was someone’s plate that I took a pic of. It was not my plate as I didn’t eat it thanks to the twice weekly visits to WalMart. I learned on day #1 that having a meal backup plan is in your best interest. We eat lunch at the main hospital during the day and we tend to eat as much as possible at lunch in the event we decide to skip the evening
meat-like substance dinner.
You heard me. Hospital food is our best meal of the day.
I also have a backpack that goes with me that contains 5% papers and learning material and 95% more backup food. A couple cans of Pringles, can of cashews, Slim-Jims, another box of Pop-Tarts and 3 bottles of Vitamin Water, because our breakfast consists of stale, whole wheat muffins or individual packs of generic Raisin-Bran. On a good day.
All of this is overseen by ONE person. Most nights it’s a small girl in her early twenties. 5′ 3″ and maybe a buck twenty. A hostile takeover would last approximately 2 seconds. Which leads me to the next part ….
Some of the people I’m in here with.
Obviously, I can’t give names or specific identifying statements, but I’ll describe them with the fitting names I have given them myself. I’ll start by introducing:
- “Rick James, Bitch” – Mid 50’s “former” gang banger (that’s in quotes because I think he had to say “former” to get in here.) The world is all about RJ,B. Leaves early and positions himself to be sure to get the front seat in the van because fuck you people with walkers and canes that need the front seat. In the van, it’s his radio station, no exceptions. Outside the van, he listens to his music out loud, as in, no headphones because if he likes it, we all must like it. RJ,B is an absolute rebel. If we can’t smoke in that area, he smokes in that area. Walks in to every class late and walks out of every class early. Rules do not apply to RJ,B, and they let him get away with it without saying a word.
You can’t even imagine how sick of this I am.
- “Sha-nay-nay” – You have all met a woman just like this. While RJ,B is in the front seat of one van, she can be found in the front seat of the other. The radio station is always on her channel and as a bonus, she sings along with it. Loudly and badly. Very, very badly. Only the slowest and the newest residents end up in that van. Normal speaking voice for Sha-Nay-Nay is shouting and she can be heard for blocks, and she is ALWAYS talking. She constantly interupts the instructors with questions or unnecessary statements and usually monopolizes the classes to the point that at the end of the class even the instructor is ready to get the fuck out of there. She is the one that even in the large hospital cafeteria, her location is immediately known.
- “Mama June” – On her 8th rotation through this program and still not paying any attention, she’s another one that can’t shut up or stop laughing at her own terrible jokes. Walks into the TV room 30 minutes into a one hour show and wants to be caught up, in detail, then proceeds to talk and make shitty jokes through the second half of the show so we all end up missing that. This is punctuated by brief periods where she feels the need to sing along with the commerials. Also badly.
- “Tex” –
- “Close-Talker” – The scam-artist that started targeting who he was going to bum smokes and money off of from the day he arrived by being everyone’s best friend and being all up in their face. I shit you not, I tried to walk away from him one night, and I even did the “serpentine” and he stuck right on me. I escaped by going into the bathroom and slamming the door. Unfortunately for him, the effectiveness of a scam-artist in a building full of scam-artists is non-existant and he had to call an outside source to fulfill his needs.
- “Boonhauer” – He’s done so many drugs and alcohol over his many years that his brain is permanently fried. He regales us with tales of his life and we’re fairly certain it’s in English because occassionally a discernable word comes through. We know when he is done with his tale because he laughs and laughs. We laugh with him.
Those are just a few of the more noticable characters here and we’ve got them from all walks of life. From Vietnam vets to vets back from Iraq only a couple years ago. We’re pretty much all dual diagnosis, but my depression/alcoholism sometimes pales in comparison to the depression/PTSD/alcoholism/drug addiction cocktail some of them have.
At the end of the day, it is what it is and all of us are in the right place whether we want to be here or not. I miss my regular psychologist but I’ve picked up some good info so far. The living conditions could be considerably better but the info from the classes is invaluable. There have been things I’ve heard 1000 times before, but then there are things that have been new to me. It’s only three weeks for me and I just started week two, so I’ll make it through to the end in a couple weeks and resume going to my regular shrink to build on some of the things I picked up in here.
It’s an experience I will be glad to have gone through but not wish to repeat. I guess that is the idea, really. I’m stronger and better for it and I’m ready to get back on the horse and resume my quest for that job and getting my shit back together so I can stand proud on my own two feet.
In the meantime I’m going to keep my tongue in my cheek and try to keep these accomodations as humorous as possible to keep from losing my mind. I’ve burned up quite a bit of down-time just writing this post. I’ve spent a couple hours a day on it for the last three days and most of it has been spent fighting with the iOS WordPress app (I see a strongly-worded letter to the developers in my future). I sincerely love my phone but trying to make an image intensive blog post on it is nothing shy of a pain in the ass.
I know, I know. First World problems.
Now I’m done and I’m off to relax in front of our one TV for some Criminal Minds before I “hit the rack”.
Love to all of you, and thanks for hangin’ in there with me.