But I was able to
face rehab because my mother and stepfather were behind me so much. I felt
relieved when we got to White Deer. I knew I was doing the right thing, knew
that I didn't have to run anymore.
All of the years
of doing this, all of the conniving, the scheming, the lying and manipulation
of people to get what I wanted—they were coming to an end. I really believed
I was frisked
before I entered White Deer. They told me to take off all my clothes. They
searched all my stuff. You weren't even allowed to bring in cologne, because
people might try to get high off it.
A nurse met with
me the next day. She said, "Do you realize that abstinence from cocaine
means abstinence from all mood- and mind-altering drugs?" I was shocked. I
didn't know I'd have to give up everything. I did enjoy my beer every now and
then. But that would have to go, too. "That's the way it is," she said.
Total abstinence is the root of recovery.
It was easier to
accept this after I learned about what they called progression. Someone treated
for cocaine addiction might drink a beer because he thinks that's okay. But
progression—beer first, then hard liquor, maybe marijuana next—will eventually
lead a person back to the drug of choice. That made a lot of sense. The people
at White Deer had seen enough relapses to make me believe it.
When they were
certain I didn't need to be detoxified, that I wasn't going through cocaine
withdrawal, I was ready to enter a community. Communities were living groups,
organized by age. We lived in cabins with 8 to 10 people in each. We were up at
6:45 a.m. to make our beds. From 7:45 until 8:30, we ate breakfast and had free
time. Then, until nine, we had morning meditation, where we would read
inspirational literature. We would talk about life and recovery, about God and
why we do the things we do.
We learned the
steps to recovery. The first and most important is to realize that you're now
powerless over drugs, that your life has become unmanageable. I knew this was
me. Believing this helped me accept the existence of a higher power, a
conviction that was with me as I went through my daily routine.
White Deer was a
beautiful place. I emphasize that because it was hard for some people to
realize it was a road to recovery, not a country club. A lot of people came up
there with bad attitudes. The whole idea of a rehabilitation center is to have
a therapeutic community, to work together.
afternoons, from 2:30 to about 5:00, we had group therapy sessions. In my group
there were eight people and a therapist. We would share our innermost problems
and secrets. Whenever I wanted to talk, in therapy or during larger lecture
sessions, I had to raise my hand, stand up and say, "Hello. My name is
Gary, and I'm an addict." And everybody in the room would say, "Hello,
Gary." Then I would say what I had to say. This was kind of weird, but I
guess by saying you're an addict you came to really believe it.
They worked with
us each day to rebuild our self-esteem, and taught us to open up and release
our feelings. For years, I had been holding a lot inside. I learned a lot about
who Gary McLain really was, how much I would just play roles, how much of a
people-pleaser I was. How I never made any time for myself and how the
pressures, before and after winning the championship, built. And how I ran from
all of it by involving myself more and more with drugs.