The Early Years And Beyond
Now in his 30s, Digger got an early start with drugs and alcohol. He was using both by the time he turned 12. He got into trouble in high school and wound up in a youth prison. “It brought me a lot of pain,” he says. “It caused me to use more.”
Fast-forward a few years. He met a beautiful woman who would become his wife. That experience “straightened me up for a few years,” he relates. “We opened a business in California. A clothing store,” and life for Digger seemed to be turning around. But eventually the stresses of family life, plus the challenges and responsibilities of running a business, were too much for him. He turned to the source of comfort he had always relied on: he started using drugs and alcohol again.
“I was crying out for help in lots of different ways, mostly nonverbal,’” Digger says. His family heard him and responded. His mother called the staff of “Intervention,” a reality-based cable TV show that dramatizes families in crisis. “My mother, stepfather, my dad, my children, they were all there,” he said. He remembers feeling cornered and tricked at the time. But the intervention produced a positive turn for Digger: He was given a chance to start treatment at Bluff.
The Road To Recovery
“I didn’t expect that level of care, that level of sincerity,” Digger says. “They truly want to help.” One of the things he noticed about the staff was their level of personal experience with addiction. “A former addict can help another addict more than someone who just has book smarts because they understand,” he observes.
He likes the fact that the staff challenges him and holds him accountable. “They mean business and want to help. If they see addictive behavior, they’ll call you on it.” Speaking with the clear voice of experience, Digger adds that “addicts are great manipulators. They’ll manipulate anybody.”
He really likes the creature comforts at Bluff. “The physical property is beautiful, it makes you more comfortable,” he says, adding some perspective. “People feel like they’re on vacation. But this isn’t a vacation. Treatment is not supposed to be fun or comfortable, it’s supposed to be painful. That’s the process.”
He also likes the food: “The cooks are 5-star chefs, it’s better than most restaurants you go to.” He also learned how diet modification can help in recovery from addiction. “They remove most of the sugars,” he explains. “The diet we’re on boosts your dopamine,” a brain chemical that helps people regulate emotion and behavior. He notes that his addiction had been depleting his body’s normal dopamine level for 20 years. After 30 days at Bluff, he says “I haven’t laughed like I do now in all those years put together.”
The Difference At Bluff
Digger has been in rehab before, but Bluff has been different. “I expected it to be like the place I was at before,” he remembers. “I didn’t learn much there. I’ve learned more here in the first two weeks than the whole time I was at the previous rehab program.”
Among the things he has learned at Bluff:
Patience: “Addicts are not patient. We want everything now. It’s not fun, but you have work on yourself.”
Listening: “We don’t like to listen. You have to learn to not be in control. That’s a big thing right there.”
Self-love: “I’ve learned I can be a leader, that I’m a good guy. I didn’t think I was a good person because I was so focused on the past. A lot of it is learning to love yourself all over again.”
Consequences: “That’s a big one. My children, my mother, have all forgiven me. That’s something I’m still processing.”
Digger urges addicts considering any recovery program to do it for the right reasons: “A lot of people go into treatment for their kids, or their marriage. You gotta do it for yourself. I firmly believe in that. It’s definitely a lifesaver though. I wouldn’t be alive if I wasn’t here today.”
At a young age, Hannah was introduced to drinking and drugs and later started using heroin. After recovering and relapsing, Hannah sought drug addiction treatment at Bluff.