10 years clean and sober

25 January 2020, today, 10 years ago, in Johannesburg South Africa, I entered treatment for the 3rd and last time. Broken, humiliated and very afraid. I was afraid what I may come up with next to sabotage the healthy and happy life that we all deserve.

I was already off all substances, having used my last tapered >0,5 mg of diazepam the day before. The diazepam to detox off alcohol in 2007. I did not only need to come off alcohol in 2006, cocaine was also in the mix. Whilst detoxing myself off the valium October 2009 till 24 January 2010,  I had been attending NA meetings daily during 3 months (2 months and 1 week in and around Amsterdam, and the last 3 weeks in Johannesburg). I stayed in treatment for 5, 5 months. 

I was not new to working a 12-step program of recovery (through NA teachings), but I needed a lot more medical and psychological support and psycho-education. At the time (26 June 2006) the medical insurance companies didn't cover treatment in The Netherlands. Addiction was not yet considered a disease. 

I had spent my last Euro 4.500 on 3 weeks of rehab treatment in Amsterdam. As a result of little to no integrative systems work (working closely with the family) and not being given a longer time to detoxify at all levels, I slipped in and out of relapses (2). Each of these two could have killed me, they almost did. On the last relapse November 2007 a GP (huisarts) prescribed diazepam (unlimited), which resulted in cross addiction to benzodiazepam, this continued for 2 years. A hell I wish no-one. Quantities that were sufficient to operate or reset shoulder fractures (120 -  150 mg daily). I was a zombie, and hours would pass that I couldn't account for. 

To make matters worse, there were no medical detoxes in and around Amsterdam that were willing to detox me safely by the time I figured out what I had done to myself (31 October 2009). One option was to "throw me in a padded cell in Vlaardingenlaan - Mentrum" 😳😳😳) for a week, which could and would result in all sorts of brain seizures and more. My psychiatrist at the time in Bergen, who was on his way to retirement, advised me to not stop since he was certain I would relapse on cocaine or alcohol😳). A dangerous and incorrect advice. So I wrote my own detox program and embarked on the detox 1 November 2009. 

Today I am happy, joyous and free! Together with an amazing team, I have created a recovery environment for addicts where they can enter safe program of detox, diagnostics, family and systems work, clinical rehab (internal), rehab day treatment and everything necessary to embark on the life we are all yearning to live. 

Grateful. Thanks to my team for diarising this date, I almost forgot 😳💕

The last rehab was not necessarily the only place that could have helped me, but the timing was right. I had the gift of desperation. My sponsor taught me so much, and he was very patient with me (@ Erle de Lanooi 💕). And I was able to afford the local SA rates as opposed to the high medical rates in Europe. UK and NL. They were charging around Euro 20.000 - Euro 30.000 per month. So together with the support of my family, at the time in JHB Giovanni Vergottini and in NL (Cornelia Figueira) and my other siblings (who may tag themselves if they feel comfortable), the AMAZING NA fellowship in JHB at the time Nicola Barak, Tako Soulman, Sakkie Kelemiditse Ngobeni and loads more lovely people, some of them still in recovery some not, I put together my own program as such. Since its more than just treatment. Its reintegration, what do you tell your environment and employers? Addiction is a dirty word, and is still very tarnished with pre-concieved idea's of weakness. The stigma is enormous. How do you stay away from triggers, for example an ex-partner, not in recovery, who can still suck you in easily. (Not their fault mind you). What do you tell employers about the gaps in CV (in those days this was relevant, today not so much)... by the time I got back to NL I dared to tell a few people, not in our program (fellowship) who also gave me so much love and support, Sander Heuvelman💕, Destini Nova 💕, Ilse Schaper-Traats 💕, and again so many more, Louise, Patrick (Fitness First Alkmaar). I have to say, that my last employer and our small amazing team & their partners were also wonderful with their support: Annemarie Ferns, Ilse Sobering, Mies Hofman, Charonne In Het Veld-Oling, Tebogo Brian Monare. It was certainly not always easy for them to understand me, and although they were not always pleased with me😁, they remained supportive😘."

 

To be clear, recovery is a program of 100% abstinence from all mind and mood altering drugs, in combination with living and following a 12-step program of recovery. So yes, I still to this day do not drink, take drugs recreationally, and I have worked through most of my character defects. I have a spiritual program and try to carry the message to the addict who still suffers. In and out of the rooms of 12-step program rooms. 

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