“I didn’t turn up high or drunk. But I did turn up broken.” To be honest, by the time I entered Gladstones Clinic in Bristol, I couldn’t give a flying fuck where I was. I didn’t want to be anywhere, so Gladstones was as good a place as any for me. I went in in January, just after my 30th birthday. I had spent the previous month locked in my parents house, (supposedly) detoxing from all drugs and alcohol. Consequently I didn’t turn up high or drunk. But I did turn up broken. My mum had traipsed around quite a few rehabs (dragging me behind her) before eventually deciding that Gladstones was to be the one for me.
I arrived there half way through a group session and was immediately thrown in at the deep end. Sue and Irene’s group. Those two names can still send shivers down my spine today. Tuesday was shame day. We were going to be made to feel bad for what we had done, or our money back! After the afternoon session was over I got bundled into the back of a minibus and driven (for hours or so it seemed) to the detox house with a bunch of nutcases. I was suddenly not so sure I was doing the right thing at all. The detox house itself was nice enough. Although, as I said – I couldn’t really have given two hoots where I was sleeping. I just wanted to get better and stop feeling so miserable.
It didn’t take me long to bond with the nutters I was living with. After all, I had ended up there, so must have been equally as crazy. The support workers during my whole time at Gladstones were all really brilliant, Dave the rave and Welsh Jason especially will always hold a special place in my heart. They made me feel safe and comfortable, and it really helped that they had been through similar experiences to me. There was only one support worker who wasn’t an addict, and in my honest opinion – that doesn’t really work. They need to have been there to relate and put scared, new clients at ease in such unfamiliar surroundings.
The first days passed in a blur. We had a check in every morning, and then a couple of hours of group sessions. Followed by lunch. Lunch was dubious at best. It is definitely an area that could have been worked on at the Bristol Clinic. Eating well is a big part of recovery in my mind and they could have tried a little bit harder to establish an healthy eating routine for us all whilst we were there. Thursdays we had Meditation and Mindfulness with Delicious Doug. I always thought I hated mindfulness but, after an emotional roller coaster of a week, it was a relief and a pleasure to be around Doug’s calming influence. In general I felt all of the therapy on offer at Gladstones was good. I learnt an awful lot about myself and my addiction. Anything I failed to learn was down to me not giving all of myself to the program, as opposed to the program or the clinic actually lacking anything. On Friday’s we had family day and it was always heartbreaking to see the devastating effects our addictions had had on our nearest and dearest.
Praise also needs to be given to Francis Lickerish who always delivered an excellent overview of addiction to us and our families (although, once you’d heard the same spiel for the 8th+ week running, it did get a bit tired!) All in all, I was under the watchful, and mostly caring eye of Gladstones for a month in Primary care and 6 weeks in Secondary Care. I did love most of my time there, I met some wonderful people, and had my eyes well and truly opened. I was given all the necessary tools I needed to go forth and conquer my new recovery world. Sadly I didn’t choose to use them, and did relapse 4 months after leaving the clinic. However, I managed to get a hold of myself and assess where I had gone wrong. I have now reopened the tool box and am once again using the hammer and nails Gladstones gave to me, whilst also adding in a few new apparatus that I have picked up along the way
The downside to Gladstones is that it is expensive. I think it is unfair that treatment like this is only (generally) made available to those who can afford it. But as I, and countless others have proved, even paying through your nose won’t guarantee sobriety. Although It is definitely better than putting said money up your nose, you still need to be willing to work at it. On a daily basis. For the rest of your life. Consequently, I think if people want recovery enough, they can get it through the community, fellowships and other help that is out there. Although, of course, if you ever have the option to go to Gladstones, or anywhere like it – I say jump at the chance. It certainly can’t do any harm. “I was given all the necessary tools needed” “If you ever have the option to go to Gladstones… I say jump at the chance.”