Eric’s Abbeycare Experience
Abbeycare Resident in early 2010
I have recently completed a four-week (28-day) intensive alcohol-rehabilitation programme at Abbeycare, and decided to document my experience.
I have been a drinker since my teens – what could be described as a bit of a ‘man’s man’. Until recently, apart from the odd blow-out due to stress at work or personal issues, my drinking was under control, although above the recommended limits. However, changes in my circumstances during the last two years – loneliness, and boredom leading to depression – caused my drinking to spiral out of control. I did not see it myself, but others did and were becoming worried.
Starting with subtle – then not so subtle – hints, I was told that I should look for help. Being me, I had the attitude that I hadn’t got a problem; or, if I did, I would sort it out myself. A typical response, I believe. I had mental symptoms of addiction (pride, denial, scepticism about rehab) but it was only when I became physically ill that I agreed to get help. By then, my self-esteem and motivation were at rock-bottom, so I asked two good friends to find somewhere and book me in. They came up with Abbeycare.
My friends decided on Abbeycare for two reasons, which they thought would suit me:
- Maximum of 11 clients, which, they guessed, would get me more personalized care.
- Treating alcohol-related problems only – not drugs – which, they assumed, would make the treatment more focussed.
They were correct on both counts.
When I first arrived I was given an overview of the Programme I would be going through. Even in my fragile state much of it seemed obvious, but some of it I didn’t understand. As the Programme progressed, it became clearer why things were done in a certain way, and by the end I recognized that it was definitely the way to get the message across.
Initially, I was assessed by a Psychiatrist, who checked on my health and decided on my medication, based on my alcohol-intake and other factors. First, I had to get completely detoxed, which took about a week with the aid of medication. The week was hazy but, within a couple of days, I had my attitude back and was sleeping better – even during the sessions themselves sometimes, although I am told this is usual!
The therapy itself was intensive and aimed at enabling me to identify the triggers that make me drink, how to see them coming, and how to avoid them. This involves a lot of soul-searching and honesty, and delving into your past, which at times may be uncomfortable but is very necessary. It includes both group-sessions and individual sessions with qualified psychotherapists, which were particularly informative and helped me find out a lot about myself. Hopefully this knowledge will help me going forward, not just in ridding myself of alcohol but in life generally.
I was also allocated a Key Worker, who monitored my progress throughout the Programme. This required me to write daily reports on how I was feeling, any issues that had come up, etc. We met twice weekly to review matters on a one-to-one basis. She also helped me prepare a recovery plan for after I left, which is a fundamental feature of the Programme. The work was intensive but varied, and there was enough time for private study and leisure activities. I tried meditation and yoga for the first time, both of which touch on aspects of the other. I found them very relaxing and hope to continue with them.
What made Abbeycare a really rewarding experience was the staff. Their attitude is brilliant and they couldn’t do enough to help, I really can’t rate them highly enough on paper. Many of them have been through similar experiences to me and have come out the other side. They are very open about these experiences, which helps give credibility to the Programme.
It is continually emphasised during the Programme that the real work starts when you leave Abbeycare and get back to your day-to-day living. This is what your recovery plan is all about. Part of the plan is arranging to meet regularly with qualified counsellors for a period after you leave, to ensure that you are keeping on track and raise any concerns or worries you have. This is the stage I am at just now. There is the option to have your aftercare arranged locally, which is what I have chosen, because I live quite a distance from Abbeycare. My counsellor is seven miles away. However, I know that the Abbeycare phoneline is always there for ex-clients.
If I had continued the way I was going, I don’t think I’d have been around much longer. I had never been to rehab before so I have nothing to compare Abbeycare with, but I can’t imagine it can be done any better. When I was there, there were clients from London, Newcastle and Edinburgh so that says something about the reputation the place has.
Having said all of the above, I don’t want to go back except on a social basis!
24th August, 2010