Monday, April 18, 2011

Drug Freedom And The Rehabilitation Journey Continued

As my previous post explained certain privileges, responsibilities and important duties are bestowed upon an entrant as he/she progresses through Odyssey's rehabilitation programme.   But all is soon removed and an entrant is demoted back down the ladder of levels for any inappropriate behaviour or misdemeanours occurring.   Entrant's recogonizing and accepting that there are consequences for every action and irresponsible decision is important for their rehabilitation and future recovery to be successful.   By the September Shane had progressed up to a level 4 status entrant and entrant's on this level can apply for a days leave away from the centre once a week.   However, entrants aren't permitted on outings alone they have to be accompanied by another level 4 peer.   Apparently, Shane and a fellow peer had acted irresponsibly while out on a days leave from the centre and, subseqently, both were demoted back in levels, which also resulted in the loss of privileges.   Shane made contact with me around the time of this incident and it was obvious he was disappointed enough in himself, without a mother's worthy wisdom flowing forth as well.   He explained how and what had happened and didn't attempt to excuse his misdemeanour in anyway, but said the fact that it had occurred made him realize that a more concerted, determined effort was needed regarding his rehabilitation.  

Addiction rehabilitation facilities such as Odyssey House all have programmes that are based on the twelve step principle of recovery.    This therapeutic type programme and supportive environment enables entrant's to establish goals and recognize without fear or judgement his/her own successes and failures.     Which in turn also encourges attitude and behavioural changes regarding one's addiction.   Hence, the theory of rehabilitation programmes isn't about solving or curing the addiction for an entrant but to give them understanding of it and the skills to hopefully abstain and manage their long term recovery process successfully.

By the end of 2008 all Shane's privileges, duties and his level 4 status had been fully restored.   It was a Saturday in mid January 2009 when Shane finally extended an invitation for us and his family to visit him at Odyssey House.   It had been 10 months since we'd all seen him, so there was excitement tinged with a bit of nervousness about this first visit.   But once in his company it was like we'd only seen him yesterday.   Shane looked healthier and fitter and there seemed to be an air of confidence and importance about him which indicated his self worth and esteem had also been restored since being in rehabilitation.   He took great delight in showing us all around the centre, it was a large sprawling type facility and the whole place had a warm, homely feel about it.   Shane's gratitude, pride and respect in the centre, Odyssey's programme and in his fellow peers was very evident as he showed us through, stopping many times to introduce us and converse with other entrants's and Odyssey therapists.   Shane said life at the centre was like living in a big commune and he'd come to enjoy this aspect of his rehabilitation at Odyssey House.   I realized, as we walked through the centre, that Shane was well within his comfort zone, and all the people in Odyssey were now his family.   After our guided tour, we all including Shane departed Odyssey to have a lovely picnic lunch at a park near by.   Being exposed to Shane's life in Odyssey House did give me some understanding as to why he'd initially distanced himself from us.   My only concern for Shane back then was, because he loved being at the centre and the lifestyle of it, how he'd feel when it came to to leave.

During lunch Shane explained, in order to proceed with his rehabilitation, he was to be candidated out, this meant finding employment.   Once settled in employment Shane would move out of the centre and into one of the houses Odyssey owns with two other of his peers.   There they would be responsible for sustaining themselves in a flatting type situation, with the requirement that they attend two meetings a week at the centre.   Shane was nervous but seemed quite optimistic about his chances of gaining employment in the area.

Our next family invitation to visit Shane was to attend a community dinner at Odyssey House on April the 2nd 2009, which happened to be his first anniversary in rehabilitation.   These community dinners are held fortnightly and are hosted by the entrants, whereby they can extend invitations for family to attend.   This dinner is a real highlight for Odyssey entrants, with all residents pitching in to help prepare and cook the huge smorgasboard banquet meal for themselves and their guests, which I was told can be for up to 150 persons or more.   It is a very social event for entrants and their guests, as well as a special celebration for those entrants who are graduating from the Odyssey rehabilitation programme.   Along with much appreciated family time, it's an occasion and opportunity for entrants to intoduce their families to the wider residential community, including Odyssey's facilitators and therapists.   It was a wonderful, unique experience and social event.   The meal was a feast, the atmosphere was relaxed and jublient, with the centre's Kapa Haka group performing, then prayers and formalities.   Two of Odyssey House entrants were graduating that night, and we felt honoured to be present at this special dinner and occasion, it was such a very humbling experience for us all.

On this occasion we conversed with a large number of Shane's peers and therapists, which left me feeling even more humbled and respectful of Odyssey House's reputation and programme.   Also for the entrants on this programme, including Shane, for the courage and strength they all show in their attempt to end their addictions, which for some, have plagued their lives for many years, just like Shane's.   Most we met readily discussed their addictions and journey of rehabilitation, openly and honestly.   The camaraderie and support for one another is so very evident, especially to outsiders like ourselves.   It was so comforting to know Shane was surrounded by people who cared about him as much as we did.   The dinner and evening lasted approximately 3 hours, and it was nice to experience some of what Shane's life at the centre was all about.   Shane intoduced us to three residents that night whom had entered Odyssey House about the same time as he had, all for Methadone withdrawal.   They all declared how difficult those early months of rehabilitation had been to come off the Methadone, and none, including Shane would ever contemplate it as a treatment option again.

In the May Shane did acquire fulltime employment, and upon commencing work he was accommodated in one of the facilities re-entry houses with two other of his peers, as arranged, but only for  a short time.   He and a friend/peer located their own accommodation together within a short distance of their work places.   The final stage and what's termed completion of Shane's rehabilitation within Odyssey House programme is his formal graduation.   This entailed Shane collating a personal account of his twenty five year drug addiction, his journey of rehabilitation and his future long term goals.   Once this proposal has been completed and accepted by Odyssey facilitator's, it is then shared within the centre's wider community and Shane is presented with a graduation certificate at a community dinner.   I was told by some of Shane's peers, at the community dinner we attended, who had completed graduation that this is a difficult proposal to recount due to it's personal agenda.   However, is is a necessary and important conclusion to the programme, and all canididates, at Shane's stage of rehabilitation do eventually achieve this graduation process.   Our Shane though, being the skilled procrastinator he is, masterfully sidestepped this process for as long as was acceptable by the programme protocol.   Eventually, Odyssey facilitator's felt it necessary to set a deadline for Shane to complete his proposal and he was given the date of mid September  to do so.   Failure to submit this proposal meant, although he would be considered to have completed the programme, he wouldn't officially graduate.   This was all the incentive Shane needed, and his peers knew this as well.   They all rallied and encouraged him, and we bombarded him with texts, and on September 17th 2009 Shane officially graduated, along with six other of his peers, from the Odyssey House rehabilitation programme.

I'm sure I speak on behalf of all Shane's family, those present or not at this special community graduation dinner, when I say that this was an intensely proud moment, and one I will remember and hold dear for the remainder of my years.   Shane stood tall and proud, here, before us, was my son, clean of drugs, healthy and happy, ready to face his future head on.   To mark our pride and respect for Shane and  his achievement I had prepared a brief speech, my words were as follows:

No matter how strong the desire is to clean your life up of an addiction, the prospect of actually doing it is understandably the most terrifying, daunting task an addicted person will ever face.   So we, Shane's family, have great pride in what Shane has achieved in accomplishing graduation tonight.   I'd like to thank Odyssey House facilitator's, therapists and Shane's other fellow peers.   Congratulations, Shane, and god bless you all.

I will update Shane's recovery process at a later date.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Drug Freedom And The Rehabilitation Journey

Shane approached and entered into Odyssey House's addiction rehabilitation centre with a commitment and determination I'd not seen in him before, which indicated he was truely ready to face and conquer his demons.   The desire to be drug free was always within Shane but the will to pursue it had slowly diminished the more controlling and encumbering his addiction became that's all.   This lack of will, confidence or faith, whatever it may have been clearly wasn't the case anymore though.   It was like Shane had come full circle regarding his drug addiction.   His goal was still the same as in 94 but there was definitely a more optimistic and motivated approach towards pursuing it this time around.   The processs and rehabilitation journey ahead achieving his goal of drug freedom being difficult didn't seem to be overly perturbing him either.   Shane's life had been at the mercy of drugs for many years but out of the despair had come determination and out of the hopelessness of it had come strength.   He finally believed enough in himself and in his ability to accomplish and overcome what had always seemed an overwhelming task.   Shane admitted, on the day of entry though, to being a bit nervous and apprehensive about everything, but still eager to proceed with his rehabilitation.   Although Shane had a fairly outgoing personality I do think this day he was feeling quite nervous about meeting and getting to know everybody within the Odyssey community as well.

Shane and I had talked a lot about the months ahead of him in rehabilitation, prior to his entry.   He'd stated in those conversations, that he may not extend and invitation for us to visit in the early stages of his rehabilitation, he just felt it might be better for him if he didn't have personal contact with family for a while.   His words were;   "I need to do this on my own mum, the lone wolf way, like I was on the streets that time without any distractions or emotional hang up's".   Shane's declaration wasn't at all surprising or upsetting, this sort of thinking is so very typical of the type of person Shane is.   His reasoning about this though was understandable and it did once again verify how important this rehabilitation journey was to him.   However, understanding it didn't make our final goodbyes any easier that day at Odyssey's admission centre, especially not knowing how long it was going to be before Shane permitted us to see him again.

Upon entry Shane's addiction was stable and his daily Methadone dose was 36mgs.   The first stage of Shane's rehabilitation was, of course, to withdraw off the Methadone.   This took him approximately sixteen weeks, so it was the August of 2008 that total Methadone withdrawal was completed.   There was sporadic telephone contact and mail from Shane during this time.   He stated then that with the Methadone withdrawal process he was very thankful to have been in a rehabilitation facility, as even reducing down at 2mgs a week was rough going, physically and mentally.   He said in the early weeks of withdrawal there were times he felt like 'shit' with flu like sypmtoms and slight nausea, and that the whole withdrawal process would've been a lot more difficult without the support of peers in the centre, regular therapy sessions and anxiety medication.   Shane now believes that withdrawing completely off Methadone is the one thing that could never be successfully accomplished outside a residential rehabilitation facility because the lower you go and feel, the more tempting it is to drug abuse.   It took a lot of determination and willpower for him to stay in the centre and accomplish it himself, he said.   The pride Shane felt in finally achieving this major task of Methadone withdrawal was evident in his voice and would've been a sight to behold.   However, this was something we weren't privy to as his request for having no family visits hadn't yet changed.   His achievement could only be acknowledged with letters and cards of congratulations.

Odyssey House has three different residential addiction facilities within the Auckland region, the adult, dual diagnosis and a youth centre.   Odyssey's adult centre where Shane was entered caters for both genders and is from 18 years old upwards.   No outside staff are employed to operate Odyssey's adult facility, the entrants living within the centre are responsible for it's daily upkeep and operation.   All entrants are assigned general housekeeping duties when they enter into rehabilitation, kitchen, laundry etc, the facilities garden maintenance and lawns are also included in assigned duties.   Shane explained facility staff does check that all duties and tasks are completed to a high standard, and that if the centre doesn't pass inspection then the whole house is locked down and privileges are removed.   It is part of Odyssey's higer level entrant's responsibility to supervise and make sure all housekeeping duties are carried out to the required standard.   This is all part of the Odyssey House rehabilitation programme;  that between housekeeping duties, peer group meetings and therapy sessions, an entrant is kept busy and occupied in the first few months of their rehabilitation daily from 7am until 9pm.   Entrants have only one hour of television daily throughout the week, the news at 6pm, but television viewing time is extended to a movie at weekends.   As an entrant progesses up the levels, his/her duties are minimized so they can supervise lower levels.   The higher level entrants are also permitted to have more television viewing time.   Shane stated these are small privileges but ones that are greatly appreciated, so loosing them is a sad loss.   Respect for the Odyssey programme and fellow peers is expected and emphasized whilst in rehabilitation.   It is important and vital being that Odyssey is a large community of people that this rule is adhered to at all times in and oustide the facility.   Shane said any entrant whom doesn't comply to this rule are held accountable and it is deemed and treated by Odyssey facilitators as a serious misdemeanour.

The Odyssey House programme is structured in a way that involves the entrants to be responsible for the centre's daily operation and it all works on a simple points and reward system.   Hence, this programme not only teaches responsibility and respect for others, but also that entrant's take pride in themselves and in what he/she achieves on a daily basis.   This is the reason why I believe Odyssey House's rehabilitation programme is so highly respected and successful.

Shane had been in Odyssey for some months and we still hadn't had any personal contact with him, with no invitation so far to visit being extended.   However, contact I had with Shane around the September/October established that his journey of rehabilitation had struck a small bump, nothing major but one he did own up to having.   I will explain further about this and continue Shane's rehabilitation journey in my next posting.   As it is this posting has ended up longer than anticipated.