Washington Irving’s folk tale, Rip Van Winkle, is one of the most notorious of American legends. Rip Van Winkle, along with his wife, son and dog lived in a tiny village in the Catskills in upstate New York. He was a carefree man, who often shouldered his gun as he took his dog for long walks in the mountains nearby just so he could escape his wife, who nagged him to death. One day, as he walked along a picturesque path leading into the Catskills, with his dog faithfully trotting behind him, he ran into a green-faced dwarf who invited him to a gathering. Rip Van Winkle ignored his gut feeling, which told him to run away as fast as he could from the dwarf. Instead, he followed the odd creature until they came upon a group of dwarfs that were sitting around a campfire, passing a keg. All the dwarfs had green faces! Rip Van Winkle became more nervous, but instead of trusting his instincts, which told him to get out of there, he sat down, and joined this odd crew. The dwarfs passed him the keg, and he drank and drank. Rip Van Winkle loved to drink and this brew tasted like the best Schnapps he had ever drank in his life!
Pretty soon, he became drowsy, and with his dog lying next to him, he fell asleep under a tree using a rock as a pillow.
When he woke up, it was morning. He fumbled for his gun, and the weapon was covered with rust, and broke apart in his hands. His clothes were in tatters, and there was a long white beard that sprawled all over his chest. With much difficulty, he got up from the ground, and heard his bones creak. He felt arthritic pains emanating throughout his arms and legs.
His mind was in a complete fog. Where was he? Where was his dog? Somehow he figured out that he had to get back home.
After he staggered back to his village, teeter tottering like a scarecrow, he saw that his house had fallen, and all that remained were weeds and a crumbling foundation wall. His wife was gone. What in God’s name had happened?
It turned out that the villagers thought that a bear had killed him. But the truth was that Rip Van Winkle had slept for 20 years!
During that time, he had become an old man. His wife and dog had died. The quaint village that he once called home had turned into a bustling town. Luckily, his son, who now was an adult, took pity on him and brought poor Rip to his home.
In many ways, the tale of Rip Van Winkle is reminiscent of the story many alcoholics and addicts face when they finally “wake” up, and realize how much time has passed them by, thanks to their drinking and/or using.
Many times, those in early recovery also undergo post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). This happens after they go through detox, often without proper treatment. With PAWS, many alcoholics and addicts feel as if their minds are in a fog, and when they look at themselves, and at their lives, all they can feel is a huge sense of loss and regret. These horrible feelings are potential relapse triggers.
Recovery does not have to be a painful process, if anything it should be a time of healing and hope, and the beginning of a new journey. At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, we offer sub-acute detox, along with comprehensive inpatient care. Our evidence-based, state of the art clinical practices will help you recover from the damages of substance addiction. Our 12-step approach is designed to help you find serenity in early recovery, as well as help you make amends with your past.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are often symptoms of deeper issues that must be treated. At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, our skilled and compassionate staff, many who are in recovery themselves, are here to help you explore those issues, and help you embark on a new life. You will realize that you are not alone, nor do you ever have to be alone again. Poor Rip Van Winkle woke up, and realized he had lost 20 years of his life, and felt a huge sense of loss. While in our care, you will start to feel that your life has meaning. The sense of bereavement and regret will be replaced with feelings of hope, clarity and serenity.
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