For those choosing recovery, the three primary detoxes are for alcohol, benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Valium), and barbiturates (sleeping drugs). These kinds of dependencies are more difficult to get over due to the depressant effect that they have on the central nervous system, says Will Alexander, counselor and residential unit clinical supervisor at Caron.
“If you look at your central nervous system as a spring, and this depressant is just pushing it down more and more because you’re taking more and more of it, once you take it off, it goes crazy,” he says. For this reason, hallucinations and seizures are common during detoxes, and can become life-threatening.
Caron’s detox center, one of the few in Collin County, is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because detoxification can be such a brutal process, it’s best to do it in a safe environment.
However, as Caron staff members stress, the process is only as effective as the patient allows it to be.
Alexander says if a patient wants to, they can go on the Internet and find misinformation touting miracle cures, or 10-day rehabilitation programs. But recovery is something addicts must work on for the rest of their lives.
“I’ve only been sober for a couple of years,” Moore says, “There’s a lot of my life where I felt that I didn’t need it, or didn’t want it or could do it on my own.” This kind of mentality is why it’s so hard for people with the disease to admit they need help. The concept is mirrored in Caron’s slogan: “If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop drinking, that’s our business!”
Fowler says his last rehab stint was in Mississippi, where he recalls being asked, “Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?” He was; and, finally, the treatment stuck.
According to Garrison, patients often long to be forgiven by others in their lives. But first, they must forgive themselves, something that typically happens within the first 10 days of treatment. He sets the stage by telling new patients that “shame is not part of recovery; we’re going to throw that out with the bath water.”
This approach is one of the reasons the non-Texan Moore felt comfortable in Caron. He also needed to detach from his regular environment. “It was one of the best treatment centers we could find that suited me well,” he says. “And it was in a place that was comfortable, in a good area, and away from my normal environment. It was secluded and private.”
Getting Families Involved
Caron treats patients from adolescents upward. The average patient age ranges between 35 to 45; the gender split is 51 percent men to 49 percent women. The facility offers gender-separate, gender-specific treatment because there can sometimes be more of a stigma for women who are drug or alcohol dependent because their role is often to be the caregiver.
Alexander says it’s for this reason women from affluent areas can easily go from social drinking to abusive drinking to dependent drinking. Because of the social stigma of alcoholism, these women are likely to become closet drinkers. Often, family members don’t realize there’s a problem until health issues—such as liver, kidney, or pancreatic problems—arise.
It hits close to home in Collin County, where residents, on average, make 28 percent more than the national average and the county itself is the wealthiest in Texas.
Alexander says the behavior for drugs is a little more pronounced because people are trying to seek the drug, and it can be hard to explain
their behavior. “Going out at midnight, coming home at 3 a.m., bank-account draining, stuff like that,” he says.
In either case, family members are affected in multiple ways, often dealing with anger, resentment, and sadness. Alexander likens it to a mobile that hangs above an infant’s bed.
“If you take one piece off, it wobbles, and doesn’t work the same,” he says. “All those little pieces, just like a family, revolve around a normalcy, and when you change that, the family has to change along with it.”
This is one of the reasons Caron offers a program for families of the patients. Having an informed family is important for recovery, because sometimes it is hard for them to realize they can help.
Fowler says it wasn’t until his mother began to cut ties that he saw he needed to change. No matter how much his mother loved him, it had to be his choice to turn away from drugs and get the help he needed to stay clean.
While patients are in treatment, they form a new family, or unit of support. Even after they leave, many, including Moore, continue to be a part of the community through continuing care. Moore makes the trip out to Collin County about two to three times a year; he is also very active in the treatment facility near where he lives.
Moore says he’s now more active in his children’s lives and has a better relationship with them than he did before—better, he thinks, than many people who have not gone through an addiction and recovery. His son has even picked up on his dad’s lessons, often reminding him they need to take things “one day at a time.”
Moore says the staff at Caron seemed to have a true understanding of his disease—and how to treat it. “I can safely say that on a couple different occasions I was ready to go AWOL, as it were, but there was somebody who said to me, ‘You can, but I really, really don’t want you to,’ and I really, really believed it.”