Hi, my name is Lorelie Rozzano and I’m a recovering addict.

18 years ago I took the most difficult walk of my life, through the front doors of a treatment center. At the time I couldn’t imagine anything other than the pain and despair I was feeling. I had no idea then that my life was going to improve drastically, and right away. If I had a tail, it would have been tucked between my legs. My head hung low. Bangs in face, I stared at the floor feeling demoralized. If there was a more shameful place on earth to be, I couldn’t imagine where. Going to a treatment facility for alcohol and drug dependency was for addicts and alcoholics, and I sure as heck wasn’t one of those!

I carried two plastic bags with me. There was just enough clothing in them, to get me through the first few days. My mind raced, keeping pace with my heart.

I had just left my partner on the other side of the door. I was alone and scared. I raised my head long enough to scan the place trying to get a feel for it. Rehab was not what I expected. There were no people in white terry towel robs, shuffling about. No locks on the windows or doors. No brown trench coats or shopping carts. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t tell the difference between patients and staff. The strangest thing of all though, was the smiles on the faces of the people I was seeing. Why? Didn’t they know they were in a rehab facility? Confused, I did what I always did. I played the game. People shook my hand and welcomed me. I smiled as if I was happy to be there. I was asked, what brought me into treatment? I wasn’t going to tell them my sad little story. My partner – now husband – had given me the ultimatum. Go to rehab or I’m outta here. I’d been fired from another job, but hey, it wasn’t my fault. I was broke and truthfully, I had nowhere else to go. My kids didn’t want anything to do with me. My parents weren’t speaking to me, and my friends… Well, they weren’t my biggest fans either. With no one left in my life to manipulate, I agreed to seek help. Of course I didn’t really need it. If my family could just get it together and be a little more compassionate, I would be fine.

Up until that point I’d lived my life feeling different than other folks. Kind of like an ego-maniac with an inferiority complex. My relationships were unhealthy. My behaviour was unhealthy. My thinking was unhealthy. I had the kind of thinking that thought like this: If you love me you’ll do what I ask and if you don’t do it, you don’t love me. To say I had unrealistic expectations and took emotional hostages in my relationships would be an understatement! Of course, I didn’t know any of this then. I just knew that when I used, my skin fit – maybe for the first time in my life.

I won’t tell you everything that happened there. Truth is I don’t remember it all. It was a little like waking up. At first I just followed people around, living for the smoke breaks between structured activities. I had one purpose. To get the hell out – as fast as I could! A week passed and I was still there. I was doodling on a piece of paper and listening to a lecture a counselor was giving. Goose bumps broke out on my skin. Tears welled in my eyes as I sat up in my chair. The counselor was talking to the entire room, but what he was saying spoke directly to my heart. I hadn’t cried in so long. I cried then, buckets. Something that had long lain dormant inside of me broke wide-open. Hope. It was intoxicating. Like any good addict, I wanted more. That day I climbed on board the treatment train and began following suggestions. I heard somewhere that you have to surrender to move to the winning side. I believe it. Colors turned back on. My eyes shone with life for the first time in years. My family and I began to mend our relationships. They came to see me on visiting days. It felt so good not to be hurting these precious people anymore.

The weeks flew by. I was nearing the end of my stay when a brand new patient walked in the door. I greeted her with a great big smile on my face and I knew… God or Higher Power, had worked a miracle in my life. For I wasn’t just sober, I was ALIVE. Finally, my skin fit.

If you’re contemplating treatment, know this. It’s the best choice you’ll ever make for yourself and your family. There’s no shame in getting well. All you have to do is follow suggestions. In treatment I learned that I wasn’t bad, but I was sick. I learned my best thinking was killing me and to ask for help. I learned that I’m worthy of help and I learned to help others. I learned that there was a God, and I wasn’t it! Recovering from addiction is a little like waking up from a coma. Everything is brand new. You see and experience life, differently. I used to talk about all the things I would do with my life, one day.

Today, I do them.

Lorelie Rozzano.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1.888 614.2379.

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