Former heroin addict describes free drug rehab centers

Former heroin addict, Richie Farrell, paints a picture of free drug rehab in his book “What’s Left of Us”. Intelligent, acute, and witty, the book is a keeper. As a true blue former heroin addict, Richie lets us in on the struggles, dangers, and pain of beating heroin addiction and emerging with what’s left.

2
minute read

Free drug rehab centers

The corridor leading to the front entrance smells like ether, hot air, and disinfectant all trapped in a tunnel with no exits.  When I reach the front desk, Mrs. Kay, the head nurse, is all alone getting the medications ready, filling tiny clear cups that hold white tags with patients’ last names.  I purposely whack the hand holding my toothbrush against the counter to announce my presence, but Mrs. Kay doesn’t acknowledge me.

“Mr. Farrell, step in the door up to the sink, brush your teeth, use the comb, and sit on the chair when you’re finished.”

While I wait in the blood pressure chair, I can see through the double doors to the Recreation Room. Everybody is watching the 700 Club, a religious show the orderly switched on. Mike is back from the shower, dressed, and sitting on the edge of his chair, rocking on his toes. His elbows are resting on his knees and his head has dropped forward into the palms of his hands. Doc sits next to Mike nonchalantly inhaling a Marlboro while Crazy Mary sits sideways with her mouth flapping in Doc’s face.

“Put your left arm out,” says Mrs. Kay.

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Like a robot, I roll up my robe and extend my arm. The black band around my biceps pinches tighter and tighter as Mrs. Kay squeezes the black rubber bulb. I can feel my heart pounding in my left hand.

“Mrs. Kay, I’m worried about Mike,” I say. She pays no attention, pretending she can’t hear with the stethoscope balancing from each ear. Her eyes and ears zero in on the blood pressure gauge, watching and listening for the first and the last beat. Her eyes shift to the chart on the desk and the pressure releases in my arm. “Mrs. Kay,” I repeat. But before I can finish, she picks up a thermometer, snaps it back and forth in the air, and shoves it in my mouth. She jots something down in my chart and says, “Mr. Farrell, I would spend your time here worrying about you. Now go get some rest. Tomorrow, when it is mandatory for you to attend the morning meeting you’ll be free to discuss any issue you have.” I lower my head and when she finishes, walk into the Rec. Room and sit down in the chair next to Mary.

To be continued … What’s Left of Us

Discussion

Have you been to a free drug rehab? How did you find it? Are free drug rehabs helpful? The staff courteous and kind?  Your comments are welcomed here.

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About the author
Richie Farrell won the du-Pont-Columbia for directing the HBO documentary film, High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell. That film inspired the 2010 major motion picture The Fighter that went on to win academy awards for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Farrell's memoir What’s Left of Us: A Memoir of Addiction has been optioned for a movie and currently in development. Richie Farrell is one of the top substance abuse and motivational speakers in the United States. More Info @ My Heroin Life.

6 Comments

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  1. My son has been to two in patient, the last one was incredible he was there for 120+ days. Two mo later relapsed again. He has OD’d 4 x that I’m aware of. Now insurance has run out because of the age limit set by our government. Funny when you apply for employment the EEO states no age discrimination, yet our children can’t be covered past age 26. Rehab is $30,000 per 28-31 days. No insurance you are totally screwed-“good luck to you and your son” I’ve been told. Yeah we have a problem and the government that can change it, stills back and turns their heads. He even tried to get into halfway housing in Asheville NC, $3,000 a month! Seriously that’s a house payment for some. I’m out strength fighting for him. Addicted lives matter, they are someone’s child, sister,brother,uncle,aunt,it’s a disease, the brain is effected. National Geographic put out a great article in So. Florida last year on addiction. Do you know chromosomes are involved in an opioid users chemistry? Read up, so much is not known or understood. Addicted Lives matter and it should not be so difficult to get help.

  2. really everybody is out there writing books making money talking but not saying anything. WHY IS THAT THERE ARE NO ENOUGH REHABS IT IS ONLY FOR THE RICH NOT POOR. FIRST THING THEY ASK INSURANCE. LOOK READ HOW MANY KIDS DIE FROM OVERDOSE JAILS ARE FULL THIS COUNTRY THE WAR IS IN HERE MEANWHILE SENDING TRILLIONS OVERSEAS MONEY LIVES LOST FOR WHAT??? SAVE YOUR PEOPLE HERE. MY SON IS A DRUG ADDICT HE TRIED THERE IS NO HELP. IT IS DISGUSTING.

  3. Most rehabs are very expensive and my friend who belongs to a middle income family cannot afford it. Your writing may help my friend. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for your drug addiction stories. Hearing what addicts go through makes the disease all the more understandable.

  5. Thanks for your comment, Donna. It would make a nice post to actually compare free vs. private rehabs. I think that there would be many people who could add their experiences to a post like that.

  6. I have seen both “free” rehab (well, state funded) and also fancy “treatment centers” that cost dearly through my own family member’s experience at staying at them. Honestly, I feel the state run, fairly shabby, no frills facility provided the best treatment in terms of overall effectiveness. The folks there tended to REALLY need to be there, and the workers were mostly recovered addicts themselves. The “clients” had daily chores to do, and a big field to play softball, jog and walk for exercise. Meals were simple yet abundant. Rooms were dorm style and had metal bunk beds and thin mattresses. Rules were strict. But people got clean and got real. In contrast, at the handful of “nice” rehabs I have been able to observe 2nd hand, the clients all seemed to generally have way too much time on their hands, idly watching tv shows for hours a day or napping. The rooms were much nicer, as was the food and dining area, recreation areas, etc. but that comfort almost seemed to take away from the seriousness of the addicts situation. It’s not that I want the addict to need to suffer at all, but somehow, at least from my exposure, the folks at the “last chance hotel” seemed to fare better in the long run and truly learned to live free of their addictions.

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