Yesterday was a very special day in my life. Sober from alcohol for 25 years and am very proud of that fact. The eldest of nine children, born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1953 in the Rotunda Hospital, so relish that I am a true dub, an Irishman, which is a great little nation.
I was raised by great parents who installed very good values and principles. So my upbringing was not the cause of my alcoholism.
Vulnerability is not a weakness, it’s a strength
So I would like to share my turbulent recovery journey, vision, and passion for affordable rehabilitation. The journey began in 1997. Leaving Saint Pat’s rehab for a second time in two years finally got the message. This marvellous rehab first did not listen understand in October 1996.
I went on a short holiday to Spain with my beautiful wife Mary in January 1997. I stayed sober until she had to return to Ireland suddenly because of a business crisis in her work. In the few days of the remainder of my sunny holiday on my own.
I said, ‘sure, Paddy, you can have one pint of Guinness, and you can handle this demon drink.’ Within four months, I was on a fast train to Belfast and back drinking heavily again, so in July of 1997, I checked myself back into Saint Pat’s.
The marvellous staff and councillors told me to stop trying to help others and concentrate on my well-being which I did. However, a profound situation happened near the end of my stay here. What a great man was Dr Mat Murphy, head of the rehab. This human being worked from 7 am to late at night every day.
One day I stayed away from the program, procrastinating in my bed about my woeful state of mind, and he arrived at my room at 7 am – 10 am the following day and listened attentively to my anguish.
After I finished my story, he waited 15 seconds and said simple words, ‘Paddy, if you stop drinking and never take the first one, everything in your life will eventually be okay.’ I felt cared about my well-being and well-being on his advice.
The second profound experience was with my chief councillor, Mara, a wise and experienced person. I hated the lady at the start of her sessions with me as she only conveyed the truth to me, but in time we grew in trust with each other.
Over a coffee and chocolate biscuits I used to bring to her, chatting away, I said to her, ‘Mara, this journey here is like living to learn how to walk again’. Then, after a pause, she told me,’Paddy, this journey for you is you will have to learn how to crawl again, and it will be step by step.’
The final experience I received in SIint Pat’s was a man of 78 years was staying here during my six weeks of recovery. Previously he had been in 19 instutionions trying to stop his alcoholism and finally became sober at the same time as me.
What I learned from this. Never give up on anybody with addiction or suffering, but the person in question has to do it for themselves.
As a life coach will state that with gentle persuasion, listening to understand, and the marvellous tools available now, most people can stay on the road to recovery. But aftercare is vitally important in their journey.
So then I re-entered my new world full of fear and apprehension.For several years depression surfaced and hit me like a ton of bricks. Had a lovely wife and daughter and two beautiful grandchildren, a successful business, Powell Interiors.
No money worries or security problems for my family’s future. So why was I full of despair and hopelessness? Because alcohol in access will eventually do damage to one’s brain.
A recovering alcoholic requires extensive professional therapy and aftercare to heal this intricate organ. Once an addict, always an addict.
I agree with this statement, and I took comfort in sugar, cigarettes, and overthinking It helped me in my recovery and tried to help many people too. But, I might add, with no great success.
I have completed courses in meditation since I was 32 years of age, and this marvellous tool has been hugely beneficial to my well-being, and for the last 10 years, I have practised this diligently and taught it here in Thailand for the last seven years.
In 2009 I had to close my business after 28 years due to the economic downturn, especially one big bad paying customer who broke the verbal contract on payment stages as my accountant advised me strongly. Do not give that lady any more goods as she has no money to pay Powell Interiors.
This was very true and came to light in many ways. This young lady, Siobhan Smith, director of Lloyd Daly Auctioneer’s in Blanchestown, has for the last 12 years acted in a despicable way towards my family and my good name in the business. She and her cronies have criticized me on social media with downright lies and twisted truths.
This has been a deep trauma for my family and me, and there will come a time when she will get what is due to her through the law and court. I am proud that I did not drink alcohol during these challenging times and will never let this unhinged person get to me.
Affordable rehabilitation is my vision and passion, and Sobriety Holidays is the first one in Thailand; I would like this niche concept to grow worldwide. It’s not money-driven or ego-led.
If I were in a position would give this service free, but I am very sorry to say we are not. So instead, we have structured this business that if we reach our quota of clients each month (maximum 12 residents at one time), it will enable us to grant 25% of our residence-free scholarships.
The cost to stay at our facility for 28 days is 3490 euros, one of the cheapest commercial rehabs in the world.
Why am I doing this?
Most rehabs have become too fluffy and far too expensive. They range from 6,000 euro to 50,000 euro per month, which is out of reach of most people’s pockets. Many commercial establishments are carrying out their business for financial gain. Also, they are not getting to the route cause of one’s addiction or suffering.
Date Stats show in America that 85% of residents leaving rehab for the first time relapse within twelve months. So aftercare will be a powerful part of our program.
At 69 years of age am still very ambitious about this dream. With the right team around me, we can grow this business to 50 sobriety holidays within 10 years, 20 throughout Asia and 30 in Europe and America.
How can we do this? By forming a fellowship of 12 think tankers
- two psychologists
- one G.P’s
- one nurse
- one herbalist
- one accountant
- one lawyer
- one builder
- one architect
And most importantly, professional fundraisers or retired CEOs of successful businesses want to give back to society like me.
Initially, we would meet for one hour per week on Zoom as a group. For the first twelve month’s would request that their contribution be Pro Bono, but if these professionals would like to continue in their role, we will appoint them as paid directors of Sobriety Holidays.
There could come a stage where we will hold a conference yearly in my New Facility here in Thailand for a weekend. That could be a force to reckon with 12 professionals around a table mapping out the growth of affordable rehabilitation.
Presently I have four marvellous souls believing in our vision and willing to contribute to our dream and join our 12 think tankers’s cannot achieve this on my own, so I would appreciate anyone out there who could guide us with wisdom and sound advice to be successful in any shape or format.
When our first facility is established, we will seek out remote land seven acres south of our present location. Our homes will be near coastal areas, maybe with rivers and mountains nearby. The remoteness of this land will make it cheaper to purchase or rent, and general overheads will be marginally less.
We will build a replica of this present facility on four acres with a lake swimming pool, gardens full of fruit and vegetables, a gym and a sauna with an ice pool. We will also create a compound with various animals because they are great for healing people with suffering. We will fund this with potential benefactors, so that is why we require a professional fundraiser.
The staff in each facility will be four professionals and three volunteers, and most importantly, a project director who will be fully responsible for overseeing all. I have researched these numbers, and it’s all feasible.
Three months is not long enough for people to stay in rehab. So three of the remaining acer’s will be devoted to instigating small industries. But, over that short time, these poor sufferers are still full of fear and anguish going back to this crazy world of ours.
So our small enterprise centres will enable our residents to stay for an extra year,live in separate homes and still contribute to the community.
All salaries will be the same. The first enterprise will be brewing non-alcoholic drinks; because of the plenty full of fruits, we have many other ideas. My present new facility has most of these attributes and will grow slowly with clients’ bookings for August and September in hand.
One of our most important facts is to take great care of our staff. Over the years, my experience with rehabs is that councillors and life coaches can become burnt out in a short time, so at our facility and all new homes, there are structures in place to have regularcouncillorss in hand for these staff.
All our programs are based on three things, good nutrition, exercise, meditation, new hobbies, and sobriety practices. With practice over time, good habits become great rituals.
Well that is my journey in recovery and my vision and passion for affordable rehabilitation.
My story is not money-driven or ego-led. If this article just helped one person in their recovery, I would be a delighted human being.
Patrick Powell is the founder of Sobriety Holidays. He is an author and a recovering alcoholic sober since 1997.