It was 10:00 AM. I’d already consumed 10 shots of Svedka vodka and had just poured another 5 shot glass when the phone rang indicating the cab had arrived for my trip to the airport. Next stop, Passages Malibu, where I hoped to conquer my addiction to alcohol. I grabbed my drink and bags, locked the door and scurried out to meet the cab – sucking on the straw of my vodka drink the entire way. Cool, another shot down as the driver was loading up my bags. I jumped in the cab, comforted by the fact I still had four shots remaining to sustain me during the 20 minute trip to the airport. I gave my gate number to the cabbie and then focused on finishing my drink and scanning Facebook. SWEET I thought, by the time I get to the airport I should have a great buzz on and before too long, would be in my First Class seat, slamming down a double vodka on the rocks – followed by many more during the flight. All for “free” since I was in First Class. Free, quality booze is always the best booze for an addict.
By the time my flight arrived at LAX my buzz was bigger but I remained unsatisfied. The problem was I’d gotten engaged in a great conversation with the dude next to me and was slow to order my follow-on rounds. My last party and I wasn’t near as drunk as I wanted to be, sh__! I got my bags from baggage claim and looked for the driver who’d been assigned to pick me up. I thought this was part of the class A treatment I expected when I got to Passages for my treatment. I found out later they do this to protect the addict from hurting themselves. Many patients arrive with BAC’s so high they need to be monitored and closely watched to ensure they don’t show symptoms of severe alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses – both of which can be life ending situations. It’s amazing how far guys like me will go to hide/ignore the pain caused by the underlying issue(s) which is/are driving our excessive drinking or drug usage. We think we can escape the problems because the alcohol/drugs make us feel good and enable us to forget the problems and focus on ensuring the buzz/high is maximized. More is better, right?
I was forced to acknowledge my alcohol dependency after several visits to the hospital to address a variety of health issues. They were:
– Atrial Fibrillation, caused by excessive alcohol. (Commonly called A-Fib. You’ve seen the commercials with Arnold Palmer right?)
– Throwing up blood and passing tremendous amounts of blood through my digestive system. This was a potentially life-threatening situation caused by alcohol. The diagnosis was acid reflux, but I knew why it had occurred and the doctors did too.
– A dehydration episode which rendered me so weak, I couldn’t walk. Luckily this happened at the bar where I and all my drinking buddies were. They saw I was in horrible shape and quickly rushed me to the hospital. They probably saved my life…..thanks guys.
After these harrowing experiences, I knew I needed help and I needed it ASAP. I’d seen the Passages commercials on Fox News and was intrigued. I didn’t know at the time what a “12 step” program even was, but the commercials made it clear the 12 step option – while sometimes effective – had no capability to address the root causes of my problem. I did my research, including discussing the Passages program with several doctors. They all spoke of Passages with reverence and awe. Better yet they said it was the best, most effective rehab program in the world. This was something of a shocker as my experience indicated that TV commercials and the reality were 2 very different things. Not so with Passages, I would learn.
Before I got to Passages I’d made the decision to immerse myself in the program, follow all therapist guidance, remain open-minded, and participate fully. I was a bit surprised that some of the patients had less commitment. They were here to follow the orders or direction of others (family, friends, or sometimes even a court of law). They had no intention or desire to get better and it was easy to spot them after being in the program for a short time. If this is your situation, don’t bother coming to Passages. It will be a waste of your time and money. Worse yet, you will drain much-needed resources from the patients who want and need the treatment. In short, don’t friggin’ bother until you’re serious. Hopefully, you’ll still be alive……
It was about 3 PM Pacific time when my plane landed at LAX. I got my bags and began looking for the driver Passages had sent to pick me up. Found him immediately, and we loaded up for the 1-hour road trip to Malibu. Upon arrival, I was greeted by 4 or 5 folks who I’d worked with prior to my visit, and a few other folks. I then went into my first “session” which is a Q&A session designed to gauge the severity of my dependency/addiction and to determine how committed I was to getting better. This lasted about an hour and a half – during this time they searched my bags. I was there to get better so I had no hidden booze and this process went smoothly. I then went to the Nurses Station where I provided a urine sample and a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. I blew a .09 – but I had some friends who told me they’d blown a .4 – WOW! I was then assigned a room where I would stay while going through “detox”. Passages takes detox very seriously, so patients going through it are assigned to one specific building which also houses the Nurses Station. It’s a smart and necessary precaution.
My treatment started the next day and was a 30 calendar day program. Each weekday I participated in 1 -2 moderated group sessions, led by one of the top-notch Passages therapists. The sessions are extremely valuable since everyone participates and insights are gained through the experiences of other Passages patients. Some patients are initially uncomfortable with this, but this uneasiness disappears quickly. Passages puts you into a program and environment where it’s hard to fail – provided you’re committed to the program and execute accordingly.
The rest of the day consists of 1 on 1 individual sessions with Passages therapists who specialize in the various disciplines required for you to heal. These include:
– 3 sessions per week with a psychologist
– 3 sessions per week with a chemical abuse therapist
– 3 sessions with a hypnotherapist……I had no experience with hypnotherapy and was concerned it would be weird/awkward etc. It was actually very helpful – and no, there is none of the TV silliness of “stare deeply into my eyes” stuff. Trust me, it’s very helpful and professional.
– 3 sessions per week with a family therapist
– 1 – 2 sessions per week for acupuncture
– 1 – 2 sessions per week for a massage
– 2 sessions per week with a personal trainer – all at your pace. Working with you, the Passages trainer helps you develop a plan that’s tailored to your needs and capabilities. You get a plan for your time at Passages, and an ongoing plan for after you leave.
– Weekly sessions with a medical doctor
– Weekly sessions with a continuing care expert who helps you develop a plan for the non drug/alcohol centric activities you’ll engage in after treatment. You pick these activities yourself, but they also help with suggestions based on your input and their experience. Also, they will find a continuing care therapist near you for ongoing care.
– Weekly sessions with a spiritual therapist who helps you approach your addiction from a spiritual perspective. Again, I thought this might be weird, but it was actually an imperative part of the treatment.
On weekends, the Passages team sets up a full day of recreational activities for patients to enjoy, these include:
– Beach walks and hikes
– Arts and crafts with “coaches” to help you with your project. I’d never painted before, but my coach helped me paint a polar bear – one of my favorite wild animals. This took me the entire 30 days to complete! I found painting, surprisingly, to be an enjoyable. peaceful experience, and finding peace is an important part of the program.
– Tennis sessions with a tennis pro – he makes it lot’s of fun and everyone participates – its group fun on both Saturdays and Sundays.
– Weight and aerobic training
– Family weekend visits
Here are some final thoughts I hope you find helpful:
– Passages created a new addiction treatment paradigm when they were founded in the very early 2,000’s. They dared to take a fresh approach to curing addiction and it worked. Passages is now recognized by many to be the best addiction treatment program in the world.
– The Passages therapists are really good. They possess amazing professional knowledge, talent, and capability. Each of them played a major role in me identifying and conquering my underlying causes. This, of course, was the key to me getting well again.
– The food is amazing. The kitchen staff and nutritionists provide delicious gourmet food choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They will also make diet accommodations on an individual basis.
– I developed relationships with Passages staff and other patients, some of which will last the rest of our respective lives. These can be very beneficial as these people can be part of your support network going forward.
– There is peace and a better life waiting for you. Passages is the gateway to getting there.
– One of my Passages therapists told me that bottles of booze should have a skull and crossbones on them because alcohol is poison, and it can be deadly. I will never forget this, what a powerful reality check to “replay” when you have a craving.
I hope you’re able to experience the Passages program and that you’re successful in your journey to get help, succeed, and lead an addiction-free life. If the problem exists: face it, admit it, and take the actions which will deliver your cure. Passages helps people like you every day, so take that first step now and call Passages….
How to Contact Passages Addiction Treatment Centers:
Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.