Giving it Another Go: Emily’s Recovery Story

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At first, Emily used cocaine as a party drug, but when she started doing it while sober, she knew she had a problem. She hid her cocaine use from friends and family and continued going to school, which included a military regimen as part of the daily routine. She kept using cocaine heavily for eight months, reaching a point when she would wake up and have to use first thing in the morning. Her life became unmanageable, and she realized she couldn’t function normally anymore without cocaine. After a four-day binge, she noticed how much weight she’d lost and realized she needed to get help. Emily’s best friend told her mom what was happening, and she agreed to get addiction treatment at DreamLife Recovery. 

Getting Help for Cocaine Addiction 

Emily chose DreamLife Recovery because she needed a change of scenery, a place with nature. Initially, she loved being at DreamLife and happily went along with everything, participating in the therapy and activities. She seemed to being doing well in the program and became a community leader who would actively encourage new people coming for treatment to stick with it and not lose hope. However, once Emily left DreamLife, she relapsed shortly later.

“I wasn’t doing the hard work that needs to go into recovery,” Emily admits of her first time in treatment, “So pretty much I just skated by, went out and used within a week.”

Emily fell back into addiction, ignoring people who tried to help her. Cocaine took over her life again, and she felt beaten down by the addiction. It took some time, but she eventually called DreamLife Recovery to go back. She was done using. 

The Second Time Around 

When Emily relapsed, she knew that she could go back to DreamLife Recovery and felt completely comfortable calling because there would be no judgement. She arrived for her second round of treatment and picked up right where she had left off–only this time she would have to do the hard work she had avoided the first time.

It was tough, and she struggled in the beginning, feeling angry with staff who she felt were trying to control her and tell her what to do. But with time, she started to feel better and is now really glad she returned. She meets with a therapist daily to dig into the issues that are the deep-rooted reasons behind her cocaine addiction and is filling up her “tool box” of coping mechanisms, using things like breathing techniques and exercise to deal with triggers as they arise.

Emily feels comfortable at DreamLife and spent her free time exercising in the gym or writing in the art room.

Creating Daily Routines

For someone who is into fitness, the gym at DreamLife is able to provide more than just a few treadmills. Every morning Jay would use the gym and had the equipment he needed to do dumbbells, chest presses, squats, and lunges.

After completing his workout, it was time to head to the sauna. For Jay and many other fitness enthusiasts, the gym and sauna go hand in hand. The sauna is a chance for your muscles to recover after a good gym session.

The aquachair was a favorite before bed. Located in a separate room, it was a chance for more relaxation and a good massage in a peaceful spot. Hearing the water rushing under him and the calming murals on the wall prepared Jay for a good night’s sleep.

“These things all helped me in the times when I felt like I didn’t have the outside things that I needed.”

Hiking, Kayaking and the Beauty of Nature 

The thing Emily loves most about DreamLife Recovery is that she can connect with nature. Western Pennsylvania is known for its verdant, rolling hills and forests that are perfect for outdoor activities. Even some of the group therapy and mindfulness sessions happen outside in the beautiful grounds of DreamLife.  

Adventure therapy sessions are Emily’s favorite because you get to be immersed in nature doing an activity like hiking or kayaking in a small group. Kayaking has been especially powerful for Emily because she lives on the water in Long Island and felt comforted having that connection to home.

“My favorite part about kayaking is being on the water. You’re so low in the water that the tree line is right there. It feels like you’re one with nature. It kind of sounds cheesy, but it’s really nice.”

Getting at the Underlying Causes of Her Addiction 

The therapists at DreamLife Recovery have helped Emily face the issues she was trying to escape by using cocaine. She has been to therapists before coming to DreamLife, but she feels like her therapy sessions in treatment have helped her address the underlying issues that fueled her cocaine addiction in a way that she’s never experienced in the past. Although she deals with anxiety and depression, those were not the only factors contributing to her cocaine addiction.

“I’ve been to therapists my whole life, but the therapy I get here is completely different,” Emily says, “They will find out the underlying issue to your addiction, and that’s what’s important.”