Michael contacted New Leaf Recovery in autumn 2019. He had started using cocaine recreationally five years ago, aged 22. He described how, particularly over the past six months, his use had steadily escalated, and he was concerned that he now felt compelled to use and it was dominating his thoughts when he wasn’t. Though Michael was financially secure the cost was spiralling and, moreover, he felt it was affecting his behaviour and impacting his relationships.


Michael was invited to come to the rehab for a chat, cup of tea and a look around. We talked through the structure and purpose of the residential 28-day recovery program and how this could be tailored to his specific needs. Michael is a type 1 diabetic dependant on insulin and needed reassurance that this could be managed safely and effectively. He hadn’t been managing this well due to his chaotic drug use and had been admitted to hospital with hypoglycaemia. He had also neglected his appearance and personal hygiene. Although frightened and confused, Michael realised that, despite trying for months, he wasn’t able to address his addiction alone and admitted to the centre the following day. It helped that the three staff he had met were all in recovery and could show that there is a solution.


After the doctor (an addiction specialist) had completed the medical assessment and all the formalities dealt with, Michael started his journey to a new way of living and a better way of life. He attended structured group therapy sessions, worked on assignments, studied the relevant literature and spoke about his underlying issues with his keyworker and an accredited counsellor. He began to understand the nature of addiction, it's symptoms and the tricks it uses to deceive. He was challenged to face and take responsibility for the consequences of his behaviour, not only to himself but those that love him, and expose this to the group. He realised that he was using the drug as a coping strategy to deal with feelings and emotions he was uneasy with, and that when he had abstained from cocaine his alcohol consumption increased to fill the void. Michael found that his peers in treatment shared many of his fears and feelings and this identification helped to challenge the denial and isolation his addiction had been feeding on.


In his third week Michael took over as house leader, organising a rota for chores and supporting new arrivals. It was the first time he had felt respected and responsible for years. He had struggled initially without access to his mobile and the internet but soon recognised that 28 days is not a long time and complete focus and commitment are the minimum requirements in achieving the change necessary to recover. His family came for ‘clear the air’ mediation with Michael and his keyworker, and they attended the carer’s forum to share their experience with other families. Michael was obviously anxious about going home after living in the security of a ‘bubble’, so decided to commit to our aftercare programme. This comprises of twelve daily sessions with a specific program designed to build on the foundations laid in treatment. For example, the triggers identified in assignment 2 would be very much live now, or different triggers may emerge. The program also provides structure and support immediately after discharge and, of course, allowed Michael to share his progress and newfound hope with newcomers. In his own words:


“I can’t believe how different I feel. I was completely ignorant as to what was happening to me but at New Leaf, I have begun to understand addiction and how it controlled my thoughts and feelings. I can see that I was using to cope with my feelings, and I was in denial over this. They have helped me build a recovery program to move forward and I feel free and confident for the first time in years”


Although he is back in full time work Michael volunteers his time occasionally by escorting residents to a mutual aid meeting or by presenting a community share.

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