Nov 12, 2010

Does Your Pet Need Sober Living?

Does your dog or cat have a drinking problem because you have been feeding them alcohol on the side, or they can't help finishing off the drinks at after cocktail parties? The number of dogs that have been injured biting into full cans of beer is on the rise. Some pets even find their way into the medicine cabinet and experiment with drugs (usually curious cat). This can all lead to trouble and when you feel it is time, you should take your dog or cat in for alcohol or drug treatment programs.

Well, I hope that gave a few readers a lift, but I really did it for your attention. I have seen people who get in the habit of letting their Labradors drink beer, but I don't think there has been an official pet drinking problem!
Wendy is doing me (Tom Rees) the favor of allowing me to show how kids are getting into drugs these days, so you know what is going on, especially if you have kids or grandchildren.

Unfortunately with people it is a little different. Somebody may have handled drinking for a long period of time, but somewhere along the line perhaps his or her drinking habits got a little heavy. The number of people who become addicted to pain medications is unbelievable. And a drug being called "heroin in a bottle" is Oxycontin or Oxycodone. Kids will usually start by one son or daughter raiding their parents' medicine cabinet and getting a few of these pills to share with friends at a party. After all, Mom and or Dad take them -- they couldn't possibly be dangerous. Besides, everybody talks about what a fantastic "buzz" they give -- so why not?

This class of painkillers is an opiate, and the best way to describe an opiate high to someone who has never experienced one is it feels just like being in love -- intensely so. It is not difficult to see how a kid would want to feel this way, so they begin to get the pills at every opportunity and suddenly it is not just on the weekends, either. Maybe they start taking one midweek and realize the pressures of school are easier to handle, and so at some point they begin to take them daily. Physical addiction to the pills can occur extremely fast -- within weeks -- so that when you don't have a pill to take you feel "dope-sick". Being dope-sick feels like a really bad case of the flu, except the only thing you can think about is feeling better using a pill, and you obsess over this..

Along the way, some of the other kids have found a way to get high that is a ton cheaper, because the pills, depending on their strength can be anywhere from $20 - $80 a pill. Your resistance builds fast too, so to get the same "buzz" on that you had a month ago today, maybe now you have to take two pills. Well unfortunately, a better, cheaper buzz comes in the form of heroin -- which can be sniffed, smoked, or injected. Injection becomes an addict's favorite delivery because of what they call the "rush" of the drug hitting you. Sniffing might take 20 seconds or longer. Smoking may take 10 seconds. Injecting is almost immediate and the effect is much stronger. This is how a normal kid with a good home can be transformed into a full blown, heroin injecting "junkie"-- and it is happening to hundreds of thousands of kids every year.

Because of the cycle above, entire towns in the mid-west "Bible Belt" are getting hit -- as well as areas that are more urban and "with it". The only way to break these addictions are to go to Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers that specialize in helping people kick their habits. Hardly anyone in the world can kick off the stuff described above it is so powerful, and at the treatment centers they initially give you other drugs to make the experience bearable.

After treatment you can do one of two things. You can go right home, wherever that is, but it's likely the place where the problem started and the chance of relapsing approaches 95% if you do that. Or you can go to sober living, which is what treatment centers almost universally recommend. Sober livings can be moderate places to live ,usually with 8 or 10 other recovering people who act as a total moral support because they are going through a very similar experience.

They range from moderately furnished and reasonably priced around $800 to some up in Malibu, California and other states that will run you an obscene $20,000 to $30,000 or more per month -- where you have a whole team of gurus and every other nutty thing anybody could want. Some of them are truly exquisite properties, however, and for people where money is no problem, why not live your early sobriety in the lap of luxury? For most of us regular folks, though, these houses assign you chores and expect you to be working or focused on something to move your recovery forward. The house surprises you with drug and alcohol tests and if you get caught using you get thrown out -- so there is also a negative consequence of shame of failure that helps people stay sober.

The bottom line is sober living allows someone to start to rebuild their life from solid ground where the individual goes about his days for the first time in perhaps years without drinking or drugging. Some people live at sober livings for several months up to about a year. But the main benefit is it gets you past the point where relapse is so easy, because you build the confidence up to KNOW you don't have to have your"stuff" to have a good or productive day. It can be a little like quitting smoking, also, where the longer you have gone without a cigarette, the more proud you are of yourself and the less you want to have to do it all again -- so you really learn to think twice if you feel a relapse coming on.

As you may have guessed this is not Wendy writing, it is her husband Tom Rees. After Wendy and I got divorced, I got hit with a really terrible clinical depression -- the kind where you find you can hardly get out of bed or function normally, and I began taking pain pills for my back just a bit too often to try and feel better. SO eventually I checked into a treatment center, and was diagnosed as bipolar depressive with anxiety. I had also drank for most of my life with no problem, but with the pills it became a problem and I found out that alcohol can depress me, so I cut it out altogether. I left a 20 year career on Wall Street resolving to help other people less fortunate than me. I tried owning and operating sober livings for several years but it was very emotionally difficult work, and when my partner relapsed and stole about $80,000 by putting it all in a little 3 inch glass pipe, I figured God was sending me a signal.

Indeed he was, because very shortly thereafter I came to the realization that there was no central directory for sober living and halfway houses. I have launched the largest database in the world with 8000 sober living and halfway houses listed -- and now comes the part where we start to round up managers and owners of the houses to ask them to join us, as that is what makes the business end of this free search engine work. If you know anybody who is sober, please tell them about not only a house searching resource but a general resource where all their questions about drugs and alcohol can be answered (as my lifelong dream is to now build the Google site for recovery!) Please help me, and a big Thanks for Wendy for letting me spread the word here about at

1 comment:

  1. A powerful and important post, Tom. Thanks for sharing your experience -- and thanks to Wendy for giving you a platform. Let's hope your message reaches the folks who need it.
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