Sterile Recovery? My Bar Stool’s Lookin’ Pretty Good In Comparison.

Recovery should be dynamic, transformative, explorative, powerful, positive and creative. Maybe that’s why I can’t wrap AA around my noggin. We are in treatment to not only recover, but to experience and participate in the fullness of sober living. We should be learning ways to maintain sobriety that are fulfilling and satisfying.

I’m kind of at a point in my life where I can’t waste time accepting care that doesn’t fit my general beliefs and outlook in recovery. It’s just a waste of precious time and not only that, but it is many steps backwards in my opinion. It’s not like I require a lot these days, but it’s been about 7 years and I know what suits me and what doesn’t. It’s about time I take this recovery bull by the horns and direct my care in a direction that points towards how I’d approach recovery with others and towards a positive outcome for myself. That is the general goal, no?


I went to my first IOP session yesterday (Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Alcoholism). It’s a brand new facility in town and since it was convenient, I chose to go there instead of my old IOP center that I did really well in 2 years ago. Sometimes, you don’t know how good you had it.

I had my intense, 2-hour intake Monday and I was a bit put-off by my assessor’s starched professionalism. Very clinical and it’s obvious her and the rest of the staff haven’t had personal experience with Alcoholism or Drug Addiction, which I really believe is a very important requirement for many reasons.

The over-all energy is extremely clinical and sterile. Not even my Doctor’s Office operates in such pressed manner. The front desk was rude and standoffish. I’m sorry, but we come in with broken lives and we are struggling more than you’ll ever know, so a genuinely warm smile and hello would really be a nice touch. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Then there’s the therapist with no prior personal experience, who led us into an extremely, stuffy and cramped room. We were told to sit down around a round table. That immediately threw me into mini panic attacks recalling corporate meetings and I was suddenly in this ‘professioanl’ mode, when recovery is anything but professional! We were inches away from one another and I felt like we were all put on the spot. Plus, the therapist had a very judgemental air about her and didn’t crack a smile the entire time. I don’t think she even breathed. I know I felt like everyone was watching as I took deep breaths to calm down.

The whole meeting was very unnerving and it lasted two hours. We somehow managed to stretch two paper work assignments into a two-hour session. I was so uncomfortable, I began to panic and I know my face turned bright red. I tried to recall moments in these settings, when my mind was lubricated from mania and where I was able to be myself. That helped. But it actually started to lead into me missing the bar. I suddenly missed the autonomy and freedom to just let loose.

That being said, it’s my firm belief that ongoing recovery and care should not only match, but exceed the experiences you had while using. It should be positive, loose, fun and exciting. It needs to be, or most of us wouldn’t even do it. Sure, I understand it’s complete hell for most in the beginning. And it’s expected.


I just feel that a facility centered around rehabilitation for suffering addicts should foster an environment where addicts feel safe to be themselves, honest and just breathe. It should not feel like a fucking interrogation. The only thing missing from  that tiny ass room was a two-way mirror and handcuffs.

And to think their name has the word ‘Creative’ in it is just ridiculous. I get there’s a learning curve and they are just getting off the ground. It just boggles my mind that thought didn’t go into the simplest of things such as dscore and ambiance. It’s cold and white. That’s it. Just plaques of degrees hanging on walls. I’m sorry, but this doesn’t fucking impress me at all and I’m sure not many others even noticed. If you can’t say you’ve been through it, worked it and came out on the other end alive, there aren’t many that are going to take your advice too seriously. Your clichéd and clinical answers can only get you through the first ten minutes. After that, it’s time to get raw and real. We have real fucking issues and they seem to be insurmountable, especially in the beginning. And they will remain insurmountable if nothing changes.

I’m a huge fan of being in a relaxed atmosphere where honesty and openness are at the absolute forefront…as it was with my other facility 2 years ago. It’s about being able to relate to your therapists, assessors, staff and care takers. If they can be authentic, it gives you you the freedom to be the same. So immensely important in recovery.

Needless to say, I’ll probably be transferring to my old IOP.




5 Comments Add yours

  1. darie73 says:

    Paper work assignment? Ummm…. NO. I’ve been to AA on several occasions in my 20 something drinking career. I had court ordered Alcohol Therapy at a recovery center that was one on one with a woman who was a therapist but also an alcoholic. She was very spiritual with tons of South Western/Native American décor in her office. She had wolves (my favorite animal) everywhere. The problem was she was too laid back. I never took her seriously. I would go in and complain about my day at work, talked a little bit about my drinking, and we would chat like friends the rest of the time. When my year and half was up so was my sobriety. I will honestly say I will NEVER endorse a place that gives you home work or makes you feel worse than when you went in. At times AA did that. I would watch some of the “old timers” humiliate someone newer and feel sick to my stomach. If I wanted to feel like that I would’ve stayed with the ex-cons at the bar. There has to be a balance. There is no one sure way to sobriety. Right now knowing why I drink and my medication prevents me from drinking. Seeing old pictures of how I looked while drinking didn’t hurt either. (Yikes!)

    1. OnTheRocks says:

      Definitely no sure way, and everyone is different. I re-read my post n it sounds a bit harsh and as if I’m trying to tell everyone what is needed in recovery. I didn’t mean to come off that way. I just meant for me, personally. Where I am at now though is just not a good fit. I’ll give it my best shot, because it’s better than sitting around white knuckling it all day.

      Yes, we had paperwork to get the conversation flowing. No homework, but it madends me feel like I was back in school. I’don’t just much rather talk it out. I think a lot of us needed that yesterday n many other times I’ve been involved in recovery. The questions on the papers seemed so basic, too. Idk, maybe I need to chill out.

      AA is ok from time to time for me, but overall I feel it’s depressing and I do understand why that is. But I want to really move on from these experiences into active and positive recovrry…finding purpose and meaning and keeping busy with thingschool that excite me. I drank mostly because i was bored and lonely.

      1. OnTheRocks says:

        Sorry, my auto correct is out of control! Haha

      2. darie73 says:

        You didn’t sound harsh at all. I agree with talking it out also. Sometimes positive recovery leads us to a place where it’s easy to forget how we were and the things we did while drinking. I did that one too. I don’t want to sound like a professional even though I was a professional drinker but loneliness I understand, boredom not so much. Maybe it was a little more. The way you write says more. It isn’t easy and all you can do is what you are capable of today. I know corny. I’m here if you need anything.

      3. OnTheRocks says:

        Thanks so much. Ya, it truly is much more complicated than simple boredom and lonliness, especially after this past year. It’s definitely a huge part, but not all.

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