I sat with my head propped against the linen headboard of my king bed at my home in Connecticut after a weeklong white wine binge. It was a very hot and humid August evening and I had had way too much to drink. The room was neat and tidy and so was I. I didn’t think I was hurting anyone. In the prior months, even years, I had been sober, working my program and had been managing quite well or so I told myself. But of course, I was not OK. I had planned this entire event.

My family was down in New York City for a short time having a “boys” vacation. I took the opportunity as soon as their car left for the train station to take my own car down to our local package store. I was in the spiral down and I knew it. And I didn’t care. My ex-husband lived in New York City and wouldn’t catch on. By the time they got home on Sunday afternoon, the guilty party was on her bed like a princess, defensive and annoying waiting for any one of them to dare call her out on her relapse. Well, my children who are in their 20s and one in high school took one look at me, handed me my laptop and said, “You are going back for treatment Mom.” So much for my cover.

I started my quest from my nest in the middle of my bed like the queen I thought I was, feeling so sorry for myself and yet entitled. I had been to The Ranch years back and loved it and actually stayed sober for many years, so I began on their website. My vision was blurred but looking back on it now I must have seen a link for Lucida attached to The Ranch.

My Late-Night Call to Admissions

After consulting my 20-year-old daughter, I called Lucida. I don’t know who I thought I was but God bless Jorge in Lucida admissions who answered the phone that evening. Not only was I drunk, but I was on a tear of self-pity and remorse. When I get in that frame of mind, it comes out in humor and sarcasm. Long story short, my last call to Jorge that night was probably around 11 p.m. when I called his cell phone as he was home trying to go to bed.

Here is an example of what transpired 11 p.m. I was sitting like the Cheshire Cat with an open bottle of wine on my bed, chatting with Jorge at Lucida like he was my new best friend. Poor guy.

Suzanne: Hi Jorge, what are you doing now?
Jorge: Hi again, Suzanne, well I was thinking about going to bed.
Suzanne: Oh, what time is it?
Jorge: 11 p.m.
Suzanne: Oh, sorry, so I am I coming to Lucida?
Jorge: Yes, all the financials have been arranged, a car service is picking you up for the airport at 6 a.m. in your driveway. Are you packed? Do you have our packing list?
Suzanne: Yes, I have the list. I will pack when I hang up. Will you tell my mother to make me a grilled cheese sandwich and some tomato soup? She says she won’t be an enabler any more….
Jorge: Ok, Suzanne, pack, go to sleep, get in the car first thing, and we’ll have someone pick you up to take you to Bel Canto detox.”
Suzanne: Ok, see you tomorrow?
Jorge: See you tomorrow

The next day I arrived as planned, flew a two and a half hours to West Palm Beach from Connecticut, and made it over to Bel Canto detox. Turns out I was the very first patient they had. They took good care of me at the detox although I pretty much knew already what to expect. Although I only drank for a week, I drank so much that I needed to detox. Also I have been detoxed at The Ranch and at Silver Hills Hospital in New Canaan CT. and I realize the importance for safety during withdrawal from alcohol. Jorge came to see me at Bel Canto and another admissions person named Kim Runion took extremely good care of me while I was there. The facility was beautiful although they were not yet set up to feed anyone. Seeing that I was the only patient I understood. We managed.

My Beautiful Room Became My Sanctuary

Seven days later I arrived at Lucida. The check in was long but I was used to that from being at Silver Hill. Someone brought me a smoothie and I relaxed after that. At the time I was having a lot of trouble sleeping and I was placed in a beautiful room by myself that became my sanctuary. One of my goals going forward in my life currently is to have a sanctuary such as that room. I bonded very quickly with my housemates with the exception of one. To this day we are on Facebook with each other. It is great support.

When I tell you my life changed the moment I set foot on the Lucida campus I am not exaggerating nor am I being facetious. I was well aware despite my inebriated state when I selected Lucida of the statistics surrounding those who invest a great deal of money in treatment centers hoping to finally manage their disease once and for all. I am one of those people. I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on treatment over the years. Twenty years to be exact. I count my alcoholic behavior starting in hindsight as when I found out for the first time that my ex-husband was having an affair. Rather than get out of the bad relationship, I drank.

As part of my testimony here I will say that one of the primary reasons I chose Lucida was the dual-diagnosis program. Because of my personal circumstances surrounding my addiction and coping skills as well as the trauma, the dual program was just what I needed. I also was in the more 12-step based program at The Ranch but Lucida definitely suits my personality much better although I am very well versed in AA.

Drinking to Cope

Without going into a great deal of detail, not only was I looking for alternative ways to manage my disease, but I was desperate for answers on how to cope with issues regarding relationship trauma and

childhood neglect. I knew I was drinking to anesthetize what I was going on inside my head that I was not fully understanding no matter how hard I tried to rationalize or make sense of things. I always felt there was one piece missing in my treatment. And then this happened … during my stay I came to the realization that for a very, very long time the world I lived in for most of my life was not the life that most people would call normal. I no longer accepted my situation as acceptable. Period. That is when I turned the corner and started to get well.

I attended all the available therapy groups. Jose Soler was my primary therapist and Mayra Flynn was my case manager. I was a client of Lynne Carroll who worked with me on Somatic Therapy due to some stress related fibromyalgia-like symptoms I was experiencing.

The weeks went by very quickly. I particularly had intense therapy sessions during psychodrama offsite in Delray, Florida. I was the protagonist twice and was able to work through two trauma events from my past; one regarding a male family member and the other regarding issues with my mother. I worked myself up to an almost trancelike state in those sessions but they were worth it. I have completely put those issues to rest.

The Biology Behind My Disease

In addition to all of the therapy I received at Lucida, the support of other clients and the closeness we felt added to my recovery. What I consider to be the greatest factor by far however contributing to my health and well-being was the explanation of my disease from a biological point of view. I continue to study how this works to this day at home. The American Society of Addiction Medicine states that addiction is, “a primary chronic disease of brain circuits including reward, memory and motivation and other related circuits which manifests itself in pathological pursuit of reward despite hazardous consequences.” I take medication including monthly Vivitrol IM which I was at one time reluctant to do. I am committed for one year’s time for these injections. Yes, they are painful sometimes but I know I am doing the right thing for me and my future.

Another thing I got on board with through Lucida is Soberlink. Three times per day I blow into a breathalyzer which also takes my photo and sends all the necessary information to a portal at Lucida which holds me accountable. It is another yearlong commitment but one I am very glad to do and it so far has been working out very well for me.

However, the thing that truly made Lucida click for me was a sense of belonging and acceptance. Having this great feeling surrounding me every day at Lucida made me realize what some people must have in their lives all the time. The environment at Lucida was a catalyst for me to change my life in a very big way. On my exit interview the first time through Lucida I can remember saying, “I never knew until now that the need for affection is a basic human need. I always thought some lucky people get to have that in their lives but some do not. I feel like I have been on the outside looking in for way too long.”

Heading Home

I went home from Lucida and stayed home for two months following my aftercare plan to the letter. However, around Thanksgiving time I had a series of personal setbacks and somewhat shocking set of circumstances regarding my family that led me to believe I needed more support than my therapist and psychiatrist in Connecticut could give me. The good news was I had no desire to drink at all. I did not relapse. Lucida was the very first place I thought of and I knew if I could swing it I was going. I asked if I could attend for a week for a tune-up. I wound up staying for 21 days. It was the best decision I ever made.

I slipped right back in with my same clinicians, etc . I lived in a different townhouse but the women I lived were great and again we remain friends and support each other long distance from all over the country. We are planning a reunion at my home in Florida in July. I attended the first Lucida reunion in January which was great. While we all sat down to eat our meal at the reunion, several of the alumni kept referring to Lucida as “home” and how good it was to come “home to Lucida.” I sat there and looked at all the smiling faces of the staff and former clients talking and laughing, telling stories about their lives just like one big family and I thought to myself, “Yes.”

Several of us at the reunion were sitting around chatting and some of the therapists were asking our opinions about our experiences at Lucida.

Therapist: So Suzanne, if you had one word to describe Lucida what would it be?
Suzanne: No answer.
Therapist: Anyone else?
Another client: I don’t think I can sum it up in one word.
Suzanne: I really don’t think I can either, sum it up in one word I mean. I have to think about that a little bit.
Therapist: Let’s take a group photo!

I thought of a word to describe Lucida for me since that conversation in January at the reunion. That word is “embolden.” The word means to give someone the courage or confidence to do something or to behave in a certain way, to hearten, to strengthen, to rally, to lift the morale of. Since I have left Lucida I have been in touch with other alumni and I can’t help but see this in others and I also can’t help but see a common thread that we all have. We ARE emboldened.

– Suzanne S.