Finding hope in rehab

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“They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no, no, no.’”
- Amy Winehoue, Rehab (2007)

She sat in my office, a mother worn out from caring, emotionally drained, sharing her pain of a son who had been in and out, in and out of drug rehab. Now he had left rehab again. And she didn’t know what to do.
It’s a problem that’s affecting more and more families. I could trot out statistic after statistic to prove what we already know: alcohol and drug abuse is a real problem no matter where you live. A friend of mine, a local police officer, tells me the increase in drug usage during the last 10 years in our town, Lebanon, Ky., is, in his words, “unbelievable.” His statement could be echoed by police officers in Anytown, U.S.A.
For the burdened mother who sat in my office, only one drug statistic mattered: the one that involved her son. When it’s your son or daughter, husband or wife, it’s one, that one. And that one hurts. Deeply.
Once that one, your one, steps into that world of drug and alcohol abuse, it’s difficult to step out and stay out. Just ask Ted Williams, if you can find him. You remember Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice who became an overnight sensation on YouTube? After being cleaned up, and fed, Ted’s story of hope and second chances appeared on all the major news broadcasts. But Ted had a little problem that loomed ever so big: alcohol. According to his daughter, during Ted’s sudden rise to fame, he “consumed at least a bottle of Gray Goose a night. That’s not including the Coronas he ordered, that’s not including the Budweisers he ordered, the other alcohol, the wines. He drinks heavily.” But with the support and encouragement of Dr. Phil, Ted entered rehab, but is reported to have checked out only 12 days later. Let’s hope the best for Ted, wherever he is. It’s an uphill climb. Celebrity status doesn’t change the addiction within.
Charlie Sheen should know it, even if he hasn’t hit bottom yet. Sheen, as of 2010, was the highest paid actor on television, earning $1.8 million per episode for appearing on Two and a Half Men. But Sheen’s personal problems abound: Partying with reckless abandon landed him in rehab once again. A few days later, Sheen announced his decision to rehab in the comfort of his L.A. mansion. We wonder how seriously he is about rehab when he admitted to radio host Dan Patrick, “I was sober for five years a long time ago and was just bored out of my tree.” Sheen then confessed, “It’s inauthentic - it’s not who I am. I didn’t drink for 12 years and, man, that first one, Dan. Wow.” But Sheen knows the fragility of his condition. Addressing the producers of Two and a Half Men, Sheen warned, “Check it. It’s like, I heal really quickly. But I unravel pretty quickly. So get me right now, guys.”
And there she sat, the broken hearted mother in my office, a mom with images of a son lost to an addiction and memories of an innocent little boy who played in the back yard, loved his guitar and four-wheeler. A good kid. Just like Ted Williams and Charlie Sheen, and thousands of others who have been sucked into a black hole of addiction, a hole where the drink or drug of choice drains life, dulls the senses, dissolves right from wrong, true from false, and once having destroyed a life, tosses its lifeless victim into the lap of grieving loved ones who are left to ask - “Where did we go wrong? What didn’t we do?” - crying aloud like coyotes in the loneliness of the midnight air.
But even in despair there is hope. As one man tells it in the classic book, Alcoholics Anonymous, “I once knew a woman who was crying before a meeting. She was approached by a 5-year-old girl who told her, ‘You don’t have to cry here. This is a good place. They took my daddy and they made him better.’”
Addiction is an illness. But there are treatments. And there is One who helps, never abandoning the distraught, the depressed, and, yes, the despised, the One who hears the humble prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Editor’s note: David B.Whitlock’s email is drdavid@davidbwhitlock.com. His website is DavidBWhitlock.com.