I was recently talking to a new girl that I’d met in AA and asked her what she was doing for her summer. “I’m in rehab!” she responded, laughing. I could relate. We joked about her getting to say she spent the summer in Malibu, hanging out with new friends from all over the country, and eating good food, but really, summer is a great time to go to rehab. Some kids go to summer camp, and some of us go to adolescent drug treatment in Malibu.
Long stretches of days full of nothingness and minimal supervision are a good recipe for problems for a drug using teen. For me, summers were a big chunk of time that I got loaded and got into a lot of trouble. Rehab in the summer didn’t interrupt my life in any way, other than my using, and it kept me doing something functional during those long summer months. I was in a safe place where I couldn’t hurt myself and I learned to take personal responsibility for my actions. I began to want to change. By going away to teen drug treatment in the summer, I could return to my life with a new attitude and new tools to help me deal with my life. The extended adolescent outpatient program in Brentwood let me ease back into my world as I continued to be surrounded by other teens who were staying clean and learning to live life without drugs.
At first I was angry that I would be missing out on whatever my using friends were doing, but now I have a different opinion. No, I didn’t get to go on an exotic vacation like some of my friends, but I got to go on a trip that has turned into a lifelong journey. When people asked me how I spent my summer that year, I could tell them I spent it changing my life.