20 September 2008
The detox clinic was apparently run on a strict regime . Absolutely no visitors at all at any time... to avoid banned substances being smuggled in and to avoid any upset to the routine or to the state of calm. All luggage was searched on arrival before being returned to its owner in their designated room. Regular searches were made throughout Greg's stay to ensure drugs or alcohol had not somehow been smuggled in. He was not allowed a mobile phone in case it interfered with his rest and relaxation. All phone calls from me or from him had to be made through the central office phone, so they were never private. There were set mealtimes and all inmates had to wash their plates and cutlery afterwards. As the ten-day detox progressed, Greg's appetite went from non-existent to three courses each meal. They were wholesome and large to restore much needed nutrients. Lots of stodgy puddings for dessert with lashings of custard. There were set times too for the medicines to be dispensed. The alcohol withdrawal programme was based on a high dose of diazepam at the beginning which gradually reduced as the ten days passed.
In the mornings, there were sessions to discuss their addictions, triggers and ways of avoiding them. After lunch there were sessions to de-stress them such as Indian Head Massage or Yoga. In the evenings there were more soul-searching sessions and then leisure time to watch TV, or read in your room, or play pool. A hairdresser visited once a week too. Most of the inmates were hardened drinkers or drug addicts who had lost family or partners and were borderline down-and-outs. The programme gave them a chance to be pampered, empty their souls and relax. Greg made quite few friends in there. They all had one thing in common whatever their background and that was their addiction. They shared life stories; they supported one another when they broke down in the sessions; they smoked cigarettes in the yard together; they commiserated when any one of them had to leave to go home.
Back at Alcoholic Daze House, life was very peaceful. Kay and I were able to sleep soundly knowing that we were not going to wake up with flames from a fallen cigarette licking round us. We could relax without fear of hearing Greg stumble about, or without dread of him deliberately sabotaging our TV viewing or study with his drunken rantings. We were also smoke-free and could breathe. The ten days went by remarkably quickly and I found I actually enjoyed the independence and the calm. I was quite happy coping with single-living and was not so sure I wanted Greg to come back.
All too soon enough, the ten days were up and the time had come when I had to collect Greg from the Clinic and bring him home. As I drove through the sunny London streets, my heart got heavier and heavier. I wanted this to work so much, but the freedom I had just experienced made me realise I could cope alone, if I needed to. The whole experience had made me a stronger person. In the clinic car park, I waited for Greg to come through the security door. As he emerged, he waved and called to the friends he had made, as they leaned out of the upstairs windows. Enforced bosom buddies. He had told them things he had never shared with me.
As we drove out into the one-way streets with their bus lanes, speed cameras and screaming police cars, as they hared to yet another crime, Greg was already telling me which way I should head, which street I should turn into, forgetting that I had already made the journey there that morning perfectly well without him. I felt resentment. I bit my lip. I did not want to start a row so soon. But when he asked me to stop so he could buy a small bottle of whisky, my heart really sank. At first he said it had been discussed at the clinic that they should be left to make their own decisions and trusted to go carefully. He said I should give him that trust. The occasional glass would be allowed. Then later - when I refused to stop the car - he passed it off and said he had only been joking. When we got home, I felt I was walking on egg shells. I so did not want to upset things at this early, delicate stage, but my heart felt very heavy and I was full of dread.