Transcript of 14th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sharon Lough at California Pacific Medical Center Rehabiliation Group, San Francisco, California, Friday, April 24, 1998 at 11:00 am.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Sharon. How are you doing?
Ms. Lough: All right, I guess. Here, I made you a potholder in my arts and crafts class.
Dr. Balis: Thank you.
Ms. Lough: It doubles as a coaster. If you keep me here long enough, I can knit you an entire set, plus a tea cozy.
Dr. Balis: I don't think you'll be here that long.
Ms. Lough: Really? When am I getting out?
Dr. Balis: I don't have a definite date yet, but it should be soon.
Ms. Lough: What do you mean, soon?
Dr. Balis: I've reviewed your progress with the staff, and I think it would be a good idea for you to stay another week.
Ms. Lough: So I'm not getting out anytime soon. The last time I was locked up, shrinks played the same game. They'd say I'd be getting out one day, and when that day would come, they'd say I wouldn't be getting out for another few days. It's a shitty thing to do.
Dr. Balis: I agree. But I'm always honest with you, Sharon. Now, how do you like the facility?
Ms. Lough: I don't. It really sucks here. When am I getting out?
Dr. Balis: Do you feel you've been able to work on the issues that led to your drug use?
Ms. Lough: You just want me to mouth empty platitudes: how I've gotten in touch with my inner child, and faced my demons, and purged my soul, and all that other psycho babble bullshit you shrinks love so much. Well, I haven't used in a week.
Dr. Balis: Good...
Ms. Lough: You said I would be here for only a week--you're the one that's being dishonest and unethical.
Dr. Balis: Sharon, I'd like you to stay here until you feel you're on the road to overcoming your addiction. You haven't used any drugs for a week, and that's very good. But you're not completely recovered yet.
Ms. Lough: I'm never going to be completely recovered. Isn't that what they teach you in those insipid twelve step programs? Addicts are addicts for life. I'm always going to have the same addictive personality. Are you planning on keeping me locked up for life?
Dr. Balis: You have a very serious and long-term history of drug use.You've been abusing some very addictive substances. I'm glad you are willing to give this a try. But it's not time to stop yet. You'll benefit from this program the most by remaining here for a while.
Ms. Lough: Shit.
Dr. Balis: Have you had any visitors?
Ms. Lough: Yeah, I called Rob and he came to see me. He bought me some warm clothes. Why is it so fucking cold in here?
Dr. Balis: Your body's vulnerable. You might be particularly sensitive to cold right now.
Ms. Lough: This is like some new-age dungeon. I hate being confined. I hate being locked up like this. Just look at the people here. Have you ever seen so many miserable people in one place in your life? I can't even get a decent cup of coffee.
Dr. Balis: I'm surprised. I thought coffee was the one drug they pushed here.
Ms. Lough: No, they save the coffee for the alcoholics. All we get is herbal tea that tastes like horse piss. Not even a diet Pepsi--it's endless apple juice.
Dr. Balis: Have you participated in any of the group sessions? You'll make greater progress if you take an active role in your recovery.
Ms. Lough: Look, Doctor, I don't want to sit with a group of whiners and spill my heart out about my unhappy childhood and all that other crap. And I would have to hug some blubbering idiot. I hate hugging people. It's a plague. It's the scourge of the late 20th century. Do you know Leo Buscaglia?
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Lough: Look, I knitted a fucking potholder. That's something, isn't it?
Dr. Balis: It's a good idea to keep your hands busy.
Ms. Lough: So I won't claw my eyes out, or attack the other inmates, or try to find a means of escape?
Dr. Balis: You're quite angry.
Ms. Lough: You said I'd only be here a week. Why would you lie to me like that?
Dr. Balis: The purpose in your coming here was to get off drugs. Judging by your demeanor...
Ms. Lough: My demeanor? What the fuck is wrong with my demeanor?
Dr. Balis: You're still in drug withdrawal. I talked to the staff here, and we all think it would be best for you to stay a bit longer.
Ms. Lough: "A bit longer?" You're being deliberately vague. I don't like the idea that you were all talking about me behind my back, plotting against me. You're planning to keep me here forever, aren't you?
Dr. Balis: No, Sharon. No one is trying to keep you here indefinitely. I talked to the other staff members to evaluate your progress. It's fairly routine.
Ms. Lough: Why didn't you just ask me? I would have told you I was doing fine.
Dr. Balis: You're not in a postion to be able to make objective judgements.
Ms. Lough: So now you're accusing me of lying.
Dr. Balis: Addicts are very poor judges of their abilities to control their addiction. I need objective data. You were able to stay off drugs for a week, and considering the extent of your substance abuse, that's quite remarkable. But if I approve your release now, there's a good chance that you'll go back to using drugs again. I want you to be committed to staying off drugs.
Ms. Lough: Okay, I'm committed.
Dr. Balis: Then stay here for another week.
Ms. Lough: Fuck, no!
Dr. Balis: Just stay this weekend then. Stay until Monday.
Ms. Lough: This is all a big lie. You're not going to let me out on Monday.
Dr. Balis: On Monday, we'll reevaluate you and see if you're ready to leave.
Ms. Lough: I'm ready to leave now!
Dr. Balis: If you complete this program successfully, I'll be able to reinstate you at SII.
Ms. Lough: I don't want to go back to SII.
Dr. Balis: You don't want to have a job to go back to?
Ms. Lough: I don't want to go back to SII.
Dr. Balis: Do you plan to work?
Ms. Lough: I don't know. I thought maybe I could collect disability.
Dr. Balis: You're hardly disabled.
Ms. Lough: According to law, people who have addictions are disabled. I could get social security.
Dr. Balis: Even if you were able to get it, it's not very much money. In fact, it's only $650 a month. You'd make much more working. Working a regular job would also give your life structure, and you would have something to occupy your time. I recommend that you return to SII, if possible, at least for a short time. If you are truly unhappy there, you can look for other employment opportunities once you get settled in.
Ms. Lough: Jeez, what a pain in the ass. I should never have agreed to come here.
Dr. Balis: Addiction and other self-destructive behaviors have serious long-term consequences. It's unrealistic for you to expect that you can stop abusing substances like heroin and methamphetamine overnight. Drug use took a toll on you physically and psychologically. You need to give yourself more time.
Ms. Lough: I just don't think it's necessary to have me incarcerated.
Dr. Balis: Stay here for the weekend, Sharon. I'll talk to the staff psychiatrist on Monday and see about your release.
Ms. Lough: The head shrink here is a total bonehead, you know. He's so smarmy and unctuous; it's all I can do not to spit in his face when he asks, "And how does that make you feel?"
Dr. Balis: Regardless , I think that...
Ms. Lough: I know, I know. You want me to get with the program.
Dr. Balis: Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.
Ms. Lough: Are you sure you're not doing this to get another potholder?
Dr. Balis: I think one will suffice.
Ms. Lough: I'll string together a set of love beads, then, in the ugliest fluorescent colors I can find. I'll be terribly hurt if you don't wear them.
Dr. Balis: Continuing with the crafts is a good idea. Maybe you could make something for Rob?
Ms. Lough: I was thinking of knitting a matching sweater and hat set for his cat.
Dr. Balis: It's good to have a creative outlet.
Ms. Lough: This compulsive knitting may be symptomatic of a deeper underlying disorder, exacerbated by prolonged confinement.
Dr. Balis: Just hang in there, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Okay. Thanks for coming to visit.
Dr. Balis: I'll see you in a few days. Goodbye, Sharon.
Ms. Lough: Bye.
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Button to Sharon Lough's Drawings Sharon Lough's Doodles Delivered This Session

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