Degrees of Separation

Degrees of Separation: From BP’s back catalogue, issue 9.

This real life story was written by Caro Stanford– a really wonderful, interesting woman who lived an incredibly full life but sadly succumbed to liver cancer, from hepatitis C a few years back. Many people were sad to lose this marvellous, Jewish aristocrat from the East End of London. It is a story about the decision to go into rehab -or not. Sometimes it is true -we all need to get away, but finding the right place when there are so many crappy rehabs out there -is not easy. No one really knows the half of what goes on in many of these places around the world today -but here is a few thoughts from Caro, should you have found somewhere good, or are considering whether it would be useful for you.

Here’s looking atchya Caro!


 The decision to go into Rehab might seem like a hard one, but it’s nothing compared to what comes next…Caro Stanford writes about the long old road through rehabilitation…

My situation didn’t require any questioning or soul searching.  I was at the end.  The end of my tether, the end of my options, the end of my mental and physical health.

I would have always hoped that if I was to loose it, my mental health I mean, go gaga, that I be in a sort of limbo, not know that I was mad.  But I did know.  I was absolutely aware that my speech was muddled and juddered, that I quivered both internally and externally, loosing the definition between day and night, too scared to attend appointments, to talk to anyone.  Paranoid to the extreme.

I lost my last marble one morning when I woke up after having had a horrifying dream that shook me to my core.  It was of such scary clarity that it left me gasping for breath, disorientated, howling with fear and anguish.  It was only ‘cos of my blokes gentle encouragement, giving me a cuppa, lighting me a cig, putting on the radio that softly helped me land back on sweet Mother earth, but as a changed person.  I now knew, knew with every bit of me that unless I made some urgent changes to my drug intake that there would be no return.  I’d end up wandering around in an asylum, naked, jabbering, shrieking at the wind …

You get the picture.  UUUUuugh, I was righteously scared.

  ” That very day I started to gently reduce my chemical input.  This was after some twenty years of daily fixing, swallowing, drinking, and every which way taking in vast amounts of opiates, downers, pharmaceuticals, pills and powders.”

That very day I started to gently reduce my chemical input.  This was after some twenty years of daily fixing, swallowing, drinking, and every which way taking in vast amounts of opiates, downers, pharmaceuticals, pills and powders.


Time to go to rehab? This was actually Whitney Housten’s bathroom when she holed herself up at her home. Throw tonnes of money into a personal drug fest and you could be really looking at the proverbial car crash.


Yeah, there are those of yous’ out there who can just quit and stay stopped.   But there will always be those, who like me, just can’t stop the need, the cravings, the lifestyle.  I mean, think on this as a sort of example.  Even a short flight, say six hours or so will cause a period of jetlag, a period of needing to adjust.  When we move to a new area, a new school, college, prison we need a period of adjustment,  ‘change’ for the want of a better word.  Meaning, we have to make adjustments to our new situations.

All of this becomes the most persuasive arguments I know of in regards to the positive help we can get from doing rehab.  It gives us a period of time to get over the ‘jet lag’ of returning to planet Earth.  Some of us have been away for so long that we can’t really remember the rules of being an Earthling.  How to do those things that come naturally to full time Earthlings?  Paying bills, keeping the cupboard stocked, remembering to buy new essentials before things run out, WC paper comes to mind for example.  Having a conversation.  Keeping benefits, job, commitments together, not using excuses for always being late or not turning up, and living with the guilt of always being unreliable.  The way our families look at us and yeah,  how we look at them.  All this we have to learn to relearn.

I suppose much depends on how long we’ve been away in Junkiesville.  Naturally, a person with a really short history of using, or who doesn’t have the commitment to come off and stay off, then rehab may not be the answer.  In those cases probably a good few weeks in detox with some therapeutic back-up could be enough.  But for those of us whose using history runs into years, decades, eons, then we’d need a seriously long period of rehab. Learning to crawl, toddle, walk and then run in freedom from ‘compulsive’ use can be just what the Doctor ordered.  That is if you can find a Dr or someone to get into gear and get you the necessary funding to do a rehabilitation programme.

And, believe you me; it’s all very scary.  From the moment of making the decision, to telling our Dr or Key worker that we’re into, thinking about, considering doing a programme, it’s as frightening as all hell.  It means taking ourselves by the bootstraps and heaving, hauling ourselves into a VERY different reality.  Absolutely everyone and everything is DIFFERENT.  Those who’ve been in the programme a week longer than us seem like ‘old hands’.  Each person in each different stage  almost seem like creatures from a different planet.  And the urge to go, fuck off, forget the whole project is, and will be overbearing at almost every stage.   (Unless like me, you’re sure that you’ll end up stark nekked and raving on Oxford St !!!).  I hardly have the words to express the courage it takes to make that final decision, go into a rehab, and then fucking sticking it out.

It was put to me once like this:  ‘How many years have you been outta it on one substance or another?’  ‘ Well’, I said  (at that time) ‘about twenty years’. ‘So’ said my inquisitor, ‘What’s a month, or two, or six, or twelve out of twenty years?’  ‘Take it like a break, a holiday from the streets and the hustle.  Get some food into you, get your teeth fixed, get some new clothes, have some proper sleep, eat for free’.  And he raved on a bit about that sorta stuff.  It made sense to me.  And just maybe these words could make a bit of sense to you out there in ‘decision making’ land.

But, getting funded, well, that’s an altogether different story.  All there is to say is, if your commitment is there you’ll get to rehab.  And if you have the need you’ll find the power to push and prod and hustle in the way that only ‘we’ know how to hustle, we’ll get the funding we need quicker.  Leave it up to ‘them’ and you will get you funding, but at their pace.  But if you want it, you’ll get it … swiftly.  (I was on the phone or on their door step EVERY DAY.)

May your good god go with you to hold and protect you and, after all that effort, to keep you there ’till the very end of the programme till you’re ready to return to sweet Momma Earth.  She’ll be there to help and care for you.  The equation is ‘The more you put into the process … the more you’ll get out of the process’.  If you’re ready for it, go for it.

Love from Caro                                            2004

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