For Better or Wurst: Sad Visits

Visiting loved ones in rehab a tough reality

 by Erika Wurst
 published on Thursday, March 24, 2005

I've been to drug rehab centers plenty of times.

But instead of a patient's bracelet, I wore a visitor's badge.

I have visited my brother, my ex-boyfriend and one of my best friends, who all were seeking help for their addictions.

Unfortunately, it wasn't voluntary.

In every instance, each one was placed into rehab through the court system as an easier alternative to jail time or some outrageous fine, and in case, they walked out of the center in the same frame of mind as when they walked in.

It's sad, but often true. The people who really change, those whose lives rehabilitation really affects, are those who realize that there is a way out if they want it badly enough.

My brother is now 25, (Happy Birthday, Billy) and is completely drug and alcohol free for the first time since before I can remember.

But it wasn't easy.

Having been in and out of court-ordered or mother-mandated rehab sessions at least six times, I almost began to think he was enjoying them. Some were in-patient, some were out-patient, and none of them accomplished a thing besides helping my brother find a new girl to take home.

This time was different. This time, I got my brother back.

He wanted to change and knew that to lead any sort of normal, decent life he'd have to get his life straight, and so he did. He now goes to meetings nearly every night, on his own free will. He avoids old friends and situations and is really starting his life over. He even calls once in a while, just to see how I am, something he would have never dreamt of doing a year ago.

To be honest, I never thought I'd see this day. I figured he'd be dead by now, and if not, someone I definitely wouldn't want my kids around, if and when I should have them. But I learned that when the unthinkable happens, there is hope for everybody, as long as he or she makes a commitment to change.

SPM writer Tara Brite explores the Valley's drug rehab programs and facilities in this week's cover story ("From addiction to recovery" on page 6). These places are dedicated to reaching out to those who want better lives.

So spread the word. Odds are you know somebody or are somebody who has a problem with drugs or alcohol. And believe me, you don't want to end up wearing the visitor's badge or the patient's bracelet.



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