The Detox Ends – Nothing In My System

This was the last week of my detox, and probably the hardest. The thought of completely letting go of the Valium was incredibly scary. I had come to rely upon it to “feel normal” for the past 5 years. It allowed me to get out of bed in the morning, to watch TV, to read, to do the housework, to eat, to sleep. I felt like I needed it to even breath. Its hard to describe the fear that gripped me this week, and I was still struggling to come to terms with the fact that I was an addict as well as an alcoholic. Being an alcoholic was far easier to admit to myself. When I drank alcohol, I became a different person entirely, I couldn’t control the amount I drank, nor could I stop the consequences from happening that came with it. I was selfish to the extreme when I drank, with no regard for anything or anyone, not even myself. Yet Valium seemed different, for a start it was prescribed by a doctor to help combat a crippling anxiety disorder, without it I was a shivering, gibbering wreck!. My thoughts spun so fast that my brain hurt, my breathing and heart rate so erratic I feared I would die. I even feared crossing the road, terrified I would be overcome by an overwhelming compulsion to throw myself under a passing car. Without Valium the line between fantasy and reality had become blurred, I didn’t know what to trust; the only thing I trusted to take away the constant impending fear of the unknown was Valium. It was an easy answer to my problems; all I had to do was pop a pill and my “normality” would be restored. Yet my love affair with Valium was bitter sweet, it left me feeling numb inside and out, there was no colour in the world or excitement. No love, no laughter, it left me not knowing who I was any more and deeply depressed and disillusioned. As time went on, it stopped giving me the warm fuzzy feeling I first felt, now my body and mind demanded it in order to function. Alcohol combined with it gave me a temporary window into oblivion, but it cost me dearly. Out of control and unable to see reason I had entered on a path of self destructive behaviour, hurting everyone around me. I could no longer live with it, but didn’t have a clue how I would survive without it.

At this point I finally conceded my addiction to Valium, I could see clearly that it had been controlling me

During the final week of my detox I felt fear like I had never known, my mind was a battlefield, I physically shook with anxiety and sleep seemed impossible. I had lost a lot of weight through not being able to eat and with it had lost some of my hair due to stress and lack of nutrients. The power of the mind! At this point I finally conceded my addiction to Valium, I could see clearly that it had been controlling me and that I I had become its play thing. I jumped to its demands without question and being honest , during those last few weeks of detoxing, if someone had agreed to give me more, I would have willingly taken it without hesitation. I came to really appreciate that someone else was in charge of my medication. I had never been able to successfully cut down on my own. I came to trust the staff at the clinic and relied on them for emotional support and help me to see the truth of my addiction. My life was in their hands. The fact that they too had once felt as hopeless as me, and were now at a place where they were happy and content with life and themselves, was deeply reassuring. Whatever I felt now, I clung on to the hope that it would pass in time.

It may sound strange, but one thing I was looking forward to about being detoxed, is that I would finally get a clear urine test! Everyone else in the addiction rehab had detoxed after only a couple of weeks, but due to the amount and the dangers of coming off Valium, my detox was more gradual and therefore took longer. I had watched the other clients collect their 24 hour clean chips at fellowship meetings weeks ago, I knew next week would be my turn. Finally after 5 years of battling my addictions, I would be completely clear of all mood and mind altering substances, and although the fear was at times overwhelming, my clean date couldn’t come soon enough!

The only drama in my life was the drama that I created.

Life in rehab was rarely boring, with a colourful range of characters, there was always something happening that I would not have encountered in my life on the outside. I too became someone that I now barely recognise. My life thus far had been defined by alcohol and various drugs since the tender age of 16. Without them I had lost my identity and had to find a new one! I found myself dressing in clothes that today I look back and cringe at. Eager to be accepted I adopted a manor similar to that of the other clients. Normally quite a conservative and smart dresser, I started to dress like a teenager!. Stripy tights, short skirts and velour tracksuits, what was I thinking!! My only comfort is that there is no photographic evidence due to my phobia of cameras. I know I’m not exactly a pensioner, but I was a 34 year old married mum of 2 from a quiet town. The only drama in my life was the drama that I created. I lived in a semi detached house in a quiet neighbourhood with my cats and young children, I had friends and family that were supportive, and I had absolutely no idea who I was.

Next: A Journey Through Rehab – Week Seven