Just A Girl: What happens in detox

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Just a Girl on addiction

I’m not pregnant.

In case I was wondering….which I wasn’t. Mainly because they hadn’t told me that I was being tested for that when they insisted on me providing a sample. They were supposed to be looking for drugs….

Which they found. Obviously. There’s not much that gets through a piss test in detox. Luckily for me they were prescription. Which meant no naughty step (always a bonus) – because I was so drunk when I arrived that steps of any kind were to be avoided like the plague….I didn’t really trust my legs to be able to do the maths.

Instead I found a chair, sat on it and stayed there until the staff came to check me in… Safest option all round to be honest.

I was too drunk to be medicated for most of the day….instead I was searched (no contraband), weighed (6st 4) and measured (5ft 1) while other members of staff went through my meagre belongings with a fine toothed comb confiscating anything that contained alcohol ( toiletries, shampoo, face masks) anything that wasn’t in a see through container (pretty much everything) and anything that could be used to harm myself or anyone else in the building ( nail clippers, scissors, razors and tweezers). By the time they had finished, it was pretty much just me and my toothbrush.

Which is how the staff like it. It makes their life a whole lot easier.

Because, as you would expect, despite rigourous searches by staff of everyone and everything that entered the building, people tended to get creative when it came to bringing in contraband…..which was frustrating, because if someone was caught with the naughty stuff wedged up where the sun don’t shine, then we all got turned over. My room constantly looked as though I had just been burgled. Tidying up after the staff became a bit of a ritual after the first few days – Still, it helped to pass the time. Of which we had loads….because 24 hours in detox can seem like an eternity.

Who knew that one little hour could last so long? Trying to find ways to pass the time was excruciating.

I don’t smoke…..so no cigarette breaks. Drinking was obviously out of the question. I wasn’t allowed out. Unless it was to the doctors and even then I had a member of staff surgically attached to me at all times in case I did a runner. I didn’t want visitors (mainly in case I was tempted to leave with them), and so my options for fun were limited and my days were pretty endless. Groundhog day after fucking Groundhog day….

Which left me with two choices. Stay bored rigid and go quietly round the bend, or attempt to hang on to what was left of my sanity and attempt to ‘do stuff’. I chose to ‘do stuff’. Stuff that I would never normally do otherwise.

My stay in detox involved attending classes and meetings several times a day, every day of the week. Supposedly to talk about our feelings and to learn more about our addictions, but in reality we only ever really seemed to talk about co-dependency. The art of gravitating to someone else in an unhealthy attempt to fix your feelings as a way to avoid fixing yourself.

I hated this one. Mainly because I had indeed gravitated towards someone in there in an unhealthy attempt to fix my feelings….and in return he had gravitated right back….which got us both into trouble and very nearly kicked out once we got caught. But when I wasn’t busy “gravitating” I was taking up pretty much everything that was on offer to me.

So I played table tennis and I made jewellery. I sang and I drew and made vision boards and two really cool little dudes out of clay who now have pride of place on my windowsill. I tried to learn the guitar. I read books. I read more books. I meditated. I had acupuncture….

Long story short. I did a lot. Because being cooped up with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts 24 hours a day is enough to tip even the sanest person over the edge and so it paid to have an interest that you could lose yourself in when the shit was hitting the fan or some drama or other was occuring. It helped to pass the time as well as teaching me more about myself.

Like how strong I could be. How determined. How stubborn, because even when all of my emotional buttons were being pushed day after day I still refused to throw in the towel and give up. Which meant that I got through my six long weeks of detox hell and ultimately saved my life….

It’s not for everyone. It’s a hard bloody slog. Some of my friends couldn’t take it and bailed…..either by prior arrangement or by going over the wall. But for me, it did exactly what it said on the tin. So I stuck with it. And I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that I was given back then finally to sort my shit out….

So there you have it. What really happens in detox. In case you were curious. But if, like me you are ‘really’ curious / incredibly stupid and want to experience it for yourself, then simply do what I did. Drink vast amounts of alcohol from the moment you wake until you fall asleep /unconcious. Repeat daily… for several years, and maybe you too will get the guided tour….

But I wouldn’t recommend it.

Just a Girl is our mental health columnist. Find her onĀ Twitter

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Ivory MagazineJust A Girl: What happens in detox

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