Lilly made it through recovery treatment. She stayed sober for a year and a half. She was doing well, staying on her meds, keeping up with her therapist appointments, and being part of The Group‘s meetings and functions. She was living alone with other girls from the group. She was in school full time and was working part-time. We were happy for her and celebrated her success.
Around March/April 2019, Lilly met someone from the group who was only a few weeks sober. They both started using together around July 2019. And then one night (August 29th, 2019), after procuring LSD from another member of the group, Lilly overdosed. The combination of LSD mixed with her bipolar meds proved to be a deadly cocktail. Luckily, the person she used with had the presence of mind to call 911. “I just wanted to have fun. I didn’t know I would hurt myself”. This is the last thing that Lilly remembered before she woke up in the hospital after having multiple seizures.
A relapse (“lapse,” “slip,” “setback”) is one of the most frustrating, humiliating experiences you can face in recovery. It leaves you feeling guilty, ashamed and tempted to throw in the towel and just keep acting out on the addiction. Unfortunately, relapse is also common. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of people who go through addiction treatment programs go on to slip at least once. In fact, many people have multiple setbacks before finally achieving a full recovery.
Instead of using these feelings and emotions to motivate Lilly to get back on track, The Group made Lilly feel guilty and ashamed for slipping. From day one, The Insight program made it clear that relapse was common and was part of the process. Then why were they handling Lilly’s relapse with harsh consequences? Why was there no support for someone who relapsed?
Lilly called her addiction counselor and schedule a face-to-face meeting. She prepared herself for a difficult conversation; admitting that she had slipped. The important part was that she was taking responsibility for her actions and letting her counselor know that she was struggling.
The Insight Program viewed Lilly’s relapse as the end of the world. She was not allowed back in the group. She was shattered. Her life revolved around ‘The Group’. No one from the group was allowed to keep in contact with her. The counselors finally agreed that they could not help her and she needed ‘extra’ mental health support. I was shocked and relieved at the same time. I had been wanting her to break ties from the group and the group mentality. But I was also shocked that the program that taught us about relapse and how it could make someone stronger was closing their doors on Lilly.
It was obvious to us that Lilly needed another round of treatment. This time it was crucial to find a program that addressed both mental illness and addiction. Lilly’s therapist and I encouraged Lilly to not view her slip as a step backward. We wanted her to think of it as progression on her road to recovery. We wanted her to think of each attempt at sobriety as a means of getting closer to her end goal of leading a healthier, happier life.
Once again, it was challenging finding a program. The in-patient programs would not take her. Their reasoning: ‘She was not using enough’. The mental health program would not take her till she was six months sober. Her dad refused to pay for additional treatment. He had enough! He was hurt, he was angry. How many more times was she going to overdose?
Her therapist and I finally found a treatment center in Atlanta that dealt with a dual diagnosis. A traditional rehab would not give her the social network that The Insight Group gave her. Lilly would have to start over and learn about life and owning her diagnosis. She would attend meetings four times a week with professionals. She would stay in school and keep up with her therapist appointments. Her therapist helped me convince my husband to support Lilly.
Lilly thrived in the new program. She enjoyed working with licensed professionals, she enjoyed being challenged. She was attentive and fully immersed in her program. She was finally working on both her mental illness and addiction. The downside - she missed the social network of ’The Group’. She missed being with peers her age. The program she was in only had 3 other patients. All of them years older than her with ‘real-life’ responsibilities.
Lilly completed the three-month program successfully. Now we were faced with the dilemma of how Lilly would live life after leaving the ‘bubble’ of rehab. Her counselor suggested that Lilly try sober living. Sober Living would give Lilly the support needed to stay sober and own her diagnosis. Unfortunately, in the US there is no certification needed to run a sober living house. There were also many cases of people overdosing or getting into the sex trafficking trade through sober living houses. My husband and I were skeptical and wanted Lilly to continue staying at home.
Lilly agreed to stay home. She started school full-time in January 2020. She kept talking about wanting to go back to ‘The Group’ at The Insight Program. She wanted to restore her reputation, show them her progress, and graduate from The Insight Program. Lilly’s ultimate goal was ‘The Group’.
Lilly was ‘allowed’ back into the Insight Program in January 2020. Due to her age, we were not privy to anything. No calls from the counselors, no discussions. This was between Lilly and The Program. My husband and I were against her being part of The Program. We didn’t want her to be caught up and wrapped up in the group mentality and drama. At this time, Lilly was 20. There was nothing we could do to change her mind. She was adamant that she wanted to graduate from The Insight Program.
Lilly’s demise started in April 2020. Lilly‘s mental health was deteriorating. She was struggling. She had met someone through ‘The Group’ who encouraged and enabled her drug use. Once again, no one understood the effects of Mental Illness. Once again, a lot of people in the program knew about her drug use and kept quiet. Most of my readers not versed in Mental Illness and Addiction, when your mental health spirals the addiction takes over. YES, Lilly was responsible for her choices, BUT I strongly feel that who she met through ‘The Group’ ultimately lead to her losing her life.