“Where am I and what have I gotten myself into now?” I remember asking these and some other soul-searching questions when I finally arrived to Turning Point of Tampa for residential treatment. I was over 1,000 miles from home and could barely remember getting on a plane to Tampa from Philadelphia because I was using heavily. My drinking and drugging days ended tragically and traumatically and I was desperate for help. I had never been to treatment, and for that matter, I had never tried to stop drinking and drugging. I had no idea what to expect.
I remember those 5 days in detox after almost 2 weeks in the hospital and feeling shell-shocked. I vaguely remember getting a call from someone to do an “assessment” where I had to recount all of my drinking and drugging prior to admission. It was all still very much a blur; I was far from completely detoxed after drinking and using for the past 25 years. I was absolutely terrified, not knowing what to expect.
My last day in detox I was finally able to keep food down and even walk around a little. There was an AA meeting in the detox and I had nothing else to do, so I decided to attend. I have no idea what the topic of the meeting was or what anyone said, but I remember one gentleman talking about being in that same detox and then attending Turning Point five years ago. He talked about how incredible his life was now. A life without alcohol and drugs seemed unfathomable to me. It was all I ever knew, and starting over at 41 seemed equally unrealistic. But, I do remember feeling something that I had not felt in a long time after that hour long meeting, I felt hope. I had an inkling that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance that I could change.
I remember the day I discharged from detox. A man from Turning Point wearing a fedora picked me up in what I later learned was affectionately referred to as the “druggy buggy,” and brought me to the campus. I don’t remember much about that day. I wheeled my belongings back the “Village” and saw people outside on the benches smoking cigarettes. A man eventually approached me, welcomed me and introduced himself. We did not exchange many other words, but he gave me a smirk and said “I know man, but it will be alright.”
I STRUGGLED through those first several hours. I was terrified, uncomfortable, a thousand miles from home, spiritually, and emotionally broken. It was Wednesday night when I admitted; Wednesday night is when TPOT hosts their Fireside meeting. As long as I live, I will never forget seeing all those people walk back to the fire pit before that meeting (I have goosebumps as write this now). Again, I felt hope. People were telling my story and expressing how great their lives were now that they were sober. I had another moment of quiet reflection, but this time it was different. I took a deep breath, bowed my head, and prayed to God, or something out there, for the strength to make it through another day. I continued to do that every day for the next 60 days and something much stronger than me carried me until I completed the program.
I would never want to mislead anyone about getting sober. It is not easy. It is actually the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. However, with the biggest struggles or difficulties come the biggest rewards. I feel fortunate to have had no real experience with treatment, so I never had any expectations coming into TPOT. I know the staff at TPOT were integral in saving my life and they helped me find a new way to live. As I heard early on in my recover, life continues to get better and better. And, just when I think it’s gotten as good as it can get, the BEST HAS YET TO COME.