From Pot to Pills & Heroine, and back to Sobriety:
One Man’s story of Recovery at PBI After 20 Years of Addiction
Robert started down the road to addiction as a teenager growing up in Washington D.C. At age 13 he began experimenting with marijuana and alcohol. Left unchecked, experimentation became full blown addiction. Throughout his youth Robert was marijuana and alcohol dependent, but he didn’t see his substance abuse as a problem. Then after 20 years of using Robert suffered a serious back injury. That’s when the pill use started. A well-practiced substance abuser, Robert’s prescribed use of pain medications soon degenerated into opiate addiction. He began abusing pills and heroine on a regular basis.
Unemployed, on state medical aid, and caught in a downward spiral, Robert checked in to a state run rehabilitation center. He entered the state run rehabilitation center with a desire to quit opiates, yet paradoxically determined to still use marijuana and alcohol upon release.
“I went in knowing I was going to smoke dope and drink. I just didn’t want to be addicted to opiates anymore.”
After 17 days in rehab Robert was released, and he immediately returned to abusing marijuana and alcohol. Within a short period of time these were not enough, so Robert returned to his drugs of choice, pills and heroine.
The second time Robert checked into Rehab he decided that it would be beneficial to get away from his immediate surroundings. He wanted to distance himself from the people and places associated with his drug abuse. Robert searched for an addiction treatment center in Florida that was small, personable and could help him medically detox from heroin addiction.
That is when he found The Palm Beach Institute. Robert entered PBI with the same self-defeating behavior he had during his last stent in drug rehab. That is, Robert wanted to quit the opiates, but planned to return to using marijuana and alcohol upon release.
“About two weeks into treatment working with the therapists made me realize that if I do those other things I thought were harmless it would lead me back to where
I was. That is when I realized I couldn’t do anything.”
Over Robert’s first two weeks of therapy, his therapist, Shaul, worked tirelessly to help him realize that using pot would lead him back to the needle. According to Robert, Shaul’s knowledge, empathy, and frank words helped him realize that for sustainable recovery he would need to abstain from all substance using behaviors. Like many of the staff at PBI Shaul is ‘in the program’. A Masters level therapist, Shaul understands addiction from both a clinical and personal side. This, coupled with a deep sense of compassion, is how Shaul was able to help Robert identify and change self-defeating thinking patterns.
“My therapist (at PBI) was really good. He’s amazing. He saved my life.”
When asked, “What did PBI do for you?” Robert lights up as he replies, “PBI gave me back my life! Since I left PBI a friend of mind died of this disease, from an overdose. PBI gave me a second chance at life. I still have a lot of stuff to work on. I don’t have the job I want….the apartment I want…the car I want. But all those things will come. If I keep doing the right thing good stuff will happen.”
“PBI gave me back my life!”
Robert then sits back and talks to me about his family. While in the grasp of addiction he was estranged from his loved ones, but since his recovery Robert has enjoyed a positive relationship with family members.
Talking to Robert makes me appreciate the beauty of the human spirit. A man formerly caught in the cycle of addiction, he is now ‘doing the work’ of recovery every day. And, he has become a valuable member of the PBI Alumni group. Not only is Robert a living example of what PBI can do to empower someone who is ready for positive change, he now gives back by helping with AA groups at PBI’s detox facility.
Robert’s positive outlook, solid support network, and desire to stay in recovery are all great indicators of success.