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.

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