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Visiting a Rehab Clinic

Essay by   •  December 7, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,349 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,059 Views

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The first thing I notice when I walk in to the center on an early Monday afternoon is the smell, that acute smell of spray-on cleaning solution used in hospitals. Everything is completely static clean, and the entrance lobby reminds me off my dentists' office. Tasteful blue chairs and maroon couches surround a large waiting area in full view of a receptionists' desk on the side. The magazines on the coffee table are of the inconsequential type, stuff like "Parenthood" and "Popular Mechanic." A couple people are casually waiting; pleasant, normal looking people. The whole effect is of a pleasant doctor's practice, and on first look you would never be able to tell that this is the waiting room for a chemical dependence treatment center. A rehab center.

I talk to the receptionist, Anne, and she tells me about the clinic. This one is fairly small, fifteen rooms or so. Outpatient only, this clinic is mainly a place for people to have some quick community support for their addictions and to place people into programs that they need or find them support groups. Anne tells me that almost everyone who comes there had asked for help that day.

About twenty people work full or part-time at the clinic, mostly as counselors and as group leaders. Most of the clientele are white collar workers, people whose health insurance cover the cost of the clinic. She tells me that the majority of people who come in for treatment come for alcohol addiction, though in last five years crystal meth has quietly become more popular in Oregon. They usually don't deal with the meth users as extensively here, though, because the neighborhood is fairly upper-class and crystal meth isn't very popular here as it is in other areas of Portland, particularly in the outlying areas beyond the suburbs. She tells me it was getting pretty bad for a while because it's ridiculously easy to make crystal meth with common supermarket items, at least until tighter restrictions were put on some of the main ingredients, particularly pseudoephedrines like Sudafed.

I talk to her for little while and she gets a hold of one of the group leaders to give me a breakdown of what the typical session is like. A tiny hispanic woman in a smart looking navy blue pant suit approaches me and introduces herself as Lora Hanson, and begins to give me a short tour around the building.

I follow her down the hall and into another waiting room, though this one is smaller. The hall is discretely pleasant, with framed pictures of flowers around the room mixed with posters proclaiming short mantras of positivity like "One Step At A Time..." and such. She pointed to a closed door and told me we have to be quiet because there was a group meeting inside. I could see them through the small ported window in the door, a group of about ten people sitting in a circle in deep discussion. She leads me past the door to a small office, her office, and I begin the interview.

Lora tells me about her background. She is a recovered alcoholic. She began drinking at the age of thirteen and was a heavy drinker by her standards by high school. She then dropped out of school and married her now ex-husband, who, on top of being an alcoholic was also addicted to gambling. She tells me that being married to someone with the same addiction made it impossible for her to see it herself. It wasn't until her husband lost eight thousand dollars in a single day and sold her watch, a gift from her father, to help pay off a debt that she decided her relationship was not good for her. I was really surprised at how candid she was being about the details of her life, but she explained to me that she believed because of everything she went through she is able to connect with others who are seeking help more easily. "People will trust you if they believe you've already walked the same path." She told me that the vast majority of her colleagues were also recovered addicts or otherwise had their lives profoundly affected by an addiction.

She told me that after her divorce she things got worse for her and that she was drinking 3 bottles of wine a day. She got fired from her job as a secretary at a CPA firm for not showing up. She told she believes she hit rock bottom when she got a DUI for running a stop sign....at eleven in the morning. That was what she called the turning point in her life. The court assigned her to do community service and to start going to alcohol support group meetings. She showed me her Alcoholics

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