Chapter 5 - Ryth: Rehabilitated

“As an Orc we're told how much better than humans are. Better than anyone really. We held the world at our mercy, the fiercest warriors anyone has ever known. There is no way in hell we could be brought down by some human drug,” he pauses. “PCP, is no normal drug. When I first got introduced to PCP I witnessed some friends take it before a big football game. We're Orcs but damn, those humans make some fun games. “ He pauses for a laugh, and to gather his thoughts. 

“Well, they told me it made you faster, stronger and just all around better.” The Orc gets choked up, a rare sight, but he takes a deep breath and forces himself through it. “I felt invincible, as if nothing could stop me. The Gods had come to this realm and blessed me with the power that none could grasp before. I thought, no I knew, this is how my ancestors felt when they conquered four continents. This is how they felt crushing their enemies beneath their feet. I felt as if I was the monster Orc people tell their children stories of. The Orc that ground bones into dust, and baked bread. I could not be stopped. Then one day, I stopped playing football. I was just me.”

He looked away as an elf rubbed his back gently. “Even without the need, I still felt the power calling to me. I still needed to be that monster. I kept taking the drug, and I needed bigger doses to feel the same levels. I remember on one occasion, I broke into an old woman’s,” he looks down and gently bangs his fist on his head. “I wanted to take her crystal ball, because I knew I could get money for it. What I didn’t know is her husband was home. She screamed, I panicked. I could have ripped her head off, I probably was going to. Her husband came around the corner firing. He hit me six times, but I was so fucking high I didn’t even notice. I dived out of a fourth story window to get away, broke both ankles and just kept running until I couldn’t run anymore.”

“When I woke up in the hospital they had taken part of my intestines,” the orc lifts his shirt displaying a gnarly scar and sagging flesh across his abdomen. “My ankles are some kind of metal alloy now, can’t even get through an airport. I’m strapped to a hospital bed with a catheter all the way up my schlong and all I wanted to do was get high. I rubbed my wrist against the restraints until they were bloody enough to slip free,” he holds his wrists up displaying more scars. “I rolled out of bed, and crushed my implants because I was trying to get high. Then I tried to crawl out of the hospital. As they fought to hold me down, I cried. I cried because they weren’t letting me get my fix.” 

“I saw my mother in the hallway, and that’s when I quit fighting.” He wipes a single tear, “that’s when I realized just how messed up I was. I really was a damn addict, a junkie. A disgrace to what it meant to be an Orc, I had brought shame on my clan name. That’s why I’m here, because I pissed away my whole life with PCP,” the Orc takes a seat as others applaud him.

“Thank you for that,” Michael brings us back onto topic after a few minutes of comforting to our new member. “As you all know Rythe is going to be leaving us soon. He’s been here a few times around, but this time is going to be the last time we see you right,” he gestures to me.

“I won’t tell that lie. Addiction isn’t something you beat, it’s an everlasting disease,” but I’m not an addict. “It doesn’t matter if I’m clean now, every day I’m going to hear the call. It’s my job to not pick up that phone. Unfortunately, I’ve picked it up too many times before. Just can’t seem to block the calls. So I’m leaving here today, clean. I’ve done this three times before, but hopefully it sticks. Still, I can’t promise I’ll never get high again. I will say, don’t follow in my footsteps.”

“Wow, that was great. Thank you Rythe,” Michael motions for me to sit back down. 

Outside of our therapy session Michael stops me, he gives me the same speech I’ve heard many times before. Just because I’m discharged from the rehabilitation center, doesn’t mean I can’t continue therapy. They’re all here for me. I don’t have to go through this alone. The fact is, I don’t really care. You’re born alone, live alone and die alone. Addiction is no different. I stand in the therapy and say I’m an addict, and I need help. I tell some fake stories about what I’ve gone through and then they cry while I stand stone faced. 

I’ll be back here, my job forces me to come. They say my work performance is slipping because of addiction. They’ve never seen me addicted, or without drugs in my system. The way this country perceives people with addictions or even people who might have one is disgusting. They’re treated like criminals who are nothing more than a burden on society. None of these people have done anything but become victims of circumstance. Instead of giving them real help, we’re all locked in a building and do team building exercises. We’re supposed to be one big family helping each other out now. A team, nor a family, can stop you when you’re staring down your next hit.

Am I rehabilitated? As rehabilitated as you can be when you’re not an addict.

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