When Gail, 43, from Macclesfield, was admitted to an alcohol rehab centre in Cheshire she was pleasantly surprised by the modern facilities, friendly and attentive staff, and the beautiful landscaped gardens. Best of all, the abstinence based 12-step treatment programme and specialist therapy sessions helped her to stop her drinking habit and achieve long-term recovery.
My preconceived ideas about an alcohol rehab centre couldn’t have been further from the truth. I’m not sure what I was expecting – an intimidating, institutional kind of place I suppose – but I was really, genuinely surprised by what I encountered.
Driving up to the rehab centre, for my first day of treatment, I was understandably nervous and didn’t know what to expect. But the first thing that struck me, as we drove up the drive, was the landscaped gardens and sense of calm.
It immediately put my mind at rest. This was only reinforced when I stepped over the threshold. For one thing, the staff were warm and welcoming. They couldn’t do enough for me. After a brief check-in, they talked me through every element of my treatment programme, answered all my many questions, then gave me a tour of the building.
My home for the next 28-days was an en-suite bedroom with a TV and telephone, for whenever I felt homesick and needed to hear my children’s voices, and a view across the gardens.
The dining room became a regular meeting point for me and my family. But it was also where I would put the world to rights with two other alcoholics, Kath and Sarah, who became really close friends during our time at the centre (and since).
I misguidedly expected that I wouldn’t have anything in common with my fellow residents but, aside from our obvious shared binge drinking issues, we happened to come from similar backgrounds and shared a lot of common interests and values.
It really helped to have them to talk to. As well as the formal group and one-to-one talking therapy sessions, which were invaluable, it was great to have that peer support and be able to talk through common experiences and discuss the finer points of our 12-step treatment programmes.
It was especially helpful having Kath and Sarah around during those initial days of detox, which was quite a tough period for me. The centre were amazing and their gradual detox programme really helped me to overcome my alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Actually being in a residential centre, during that detox period, was the best thing for me. I would have hated for my family to have seen me going through that, so having all the professional and peer support around me was a massive help.
Once I was feeling back to normal, I tried to access as much of the other specialist therapies that were on offer. I really enjoyed going to the gym each morning and then taking part in arts and crafts sessions in the afternoon. It was a real ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ approach that I’ve continued in my everyday life now.
As part of my aftercare, I now go back once a week and check in with my fellow peers and therapists. I’ll meet with Kath and Sarah for coffee and AA sessions. My main focus is staying away from drink a day at a time and surrounding myself with the support of people who understand. I’m trying hard to build bridges with my family and the trust is starting to come back.
I love being sober and I’m even thinking about changing my career. It all started with rehab and, looking back, it helped me to build the foundations of my recovery. We don’t have alcohol in the house these days and I’m careful about where I go to social occasions. I no longer obsess about drinking and feel comfortable and confident in my sobriety.
For anyone considering alcohol rehab, but were worried about what to expect, I would wholeheartedly recommend trying it out. For me, it was a life changing experience that has given me lifelong friends and a healthier, more positive outlook on life.
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