Rejecting Rehab

amy-winehouse-pic-rex-features-596537980-1I’m sure you will agree that we all need a rest at some point from chems, trashing it and messy mishaps. The pages of laundromat magazines are full of celebrity rehab casualties caught out by the tabloids for doing coke and pushed into rehab for PR purposes. Liz Taylor was one of the first celebrities to visit The Betty Ford Center in 1982 when it opened, and spent most of her lifetime going in and out, a classic case of helping everyone else but sadly couldn’t help herself.

Gay men are much more likely to have used marijuana, pills, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, crystal meth, GHB, mephedrone, as examples, than men in the general population. We all know this. Not everyone gets into trouble with party drugs and a healthy debate abounds right now on harm reduction, but the addict, be it sex, dope, booze or gambling, needs to go for themselves, not to keep the peace or keep out of jail.

lindsay-lohan-drunk-22When Amy Winehouse sang ‘I don’t wanna go to Rehab’ we thought it was amusing until she was found dead on an alcohol overdose. Lindsay Lohan has recently been forced into Rehab by yet another judge. A CEO of a prominent treatment centre made an interesting point in an interview last month “The celebrities that so many people ask about, the ones who go to rehab without getting better, often have ‘treatment resistant’ addiction . . . Celebrities who have been classified as such have come to believe that they are in every way SPECIAL, and as such, the rules of life and recovery do not apply to them”.

I have equally witnessed gay men who think they are ‘special and different’, who think because of looks perhaps, they are untouched by addiction. They work out, party hard and hold down a job. So does LiLo and look at the state she’s in. Flicking through cheap laundromat mags, recounting celebrity mishaps, using them as benchmarks for your own behaviour can make one feel superior, but you know what they say “superior on the outside, inferior on the inside”.

Being defensive about secret behaviours leads to a path of denial, and when a friend, partner or sex buddy suggests looking at your escape routes it’s easy to become Amy or LiLo and act out ‘treatment resistant’. Not that rehab is the only answer for gay men with heavy drug or alcohol use, who are ‘walking through treacle getting nowhere fast’, not even to the point of addiction. Hovering between social use, heavy use and ‘must have’ use, is a very uncomfortable place to be. I’ve been there, and equally refused to listen.

I opted for total abstinence in the end, and have remained so ever since, as the evidence landed me in courts and institutions, but checking out your own relationship with all forms of drug use, and recognising how these habits affect all your other relationships is a task worth taking. You may need to give yourself a good talking too, but in the end it’s ‘action’ that holds the highest value.

The current Californian food diet to ravage the globe is the 5.2 diet, where you ‘fast’ for 2 days a week. It may be worth instigating this model into ‘habit fasting days’ if you think using drugs, alcohol, food or anger is becoming a habit or causing relationship problems. Your partner may be nagging you into submission (it rarely works-so stop it) if most of the time you prefer unconsciousness, playing the role of LiLo’s judge will only offer kick back. Forcing someone into counselling, therapy, support groups or rehab to save a relationship, a job or themselves is counter productive for until that person lets go of ‘special & different’, you are wasting breath. Change only works long term when they want it, as LiLo’s judge may discover.

Happy Gay Pride!Having said all that, PRIDE and vacation time is a chance to party more than usual, so don’t take the coming weekends as a benchmark. Trashed and messy is part of ‘letting go’, feeling part of collective bonding and community.

It’s more to do with ‘when & how’ the rest of the year and how you feel when you ‘fast’, whether your habits dominate your schedule and the kind of guys you hang out and collude with. They are the ones likely to enable you into thinking everything is OK. Taking a monthly check on lost phones, chaos living, money spent, manipulations lashed out, depression, moods or stinking thinking will serve you well. For without checking a bank statement you will never know how much money you have. Checking up on your lifestyle, before it costs you more than money, creates higher esteem, satisfaction and above all PRIDE.

This blog first appeared on June 25 2013 as my weekly post on guyspy.com https://www.guyspy.com/rejecting-rehab/

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