Detroit Muscle
The room’s one window is covered by a dark Venetian blind. The sunlight behind it is only a rumor. There’s a lamp on the desk and a lamp turned on next to Robby where he sits in a leather chair. He’s slumped in his seat with his elbows on the arm rests. His hands hang from his wrists above his pant pockets. He rubs his middle fingers back and forth over his thumbs making muted snaps. His hair hangs in his eyes.

On the other side of the coffee table, the therapist jots something down on the legal pad resting against his crossed legs. He is a shorter, thin man with a head of wavy salt and pepper hair. He wears a sports coat over a Detroit Pistons t-shirt with blue jeans and black monk straps on his feet. His eyes smile.

“And so,” he says, looking up at Robby, “you stole the equipment to try to get money for Oxycontin?”


“Thousands of dollars’ worth… for personal use?” He smiles, tilting his head to the side. “Is that correct?”

Robby looks coldly out from under his hair. “That’s what I just said.”

The therapist scratches his head. “That’s quite a bit of Oxy, even at street prices.”

He shrugs. “Like I said, I wasn’t thinking straight at the time. I wasn’t doing any math. I just needed money and the equipment was there.”

The therapist nods and then switches his legs. He taps the tip of his pencil against the legal pad. “You know, the police have some theories about why you may have wanted that much money.”

Robby crosses his arms and shrugs. “I’m sure they do.”

“They think that you owed somebody a lot of money, and that you protected that person’s identity after you were arrested.”

Robby looks at the blinds, squeezing the armrests in his hands.

“They also have this other theory that maybe you learned about a large stash of Oxy and that you planned to buy it… and maybe start dealing yourself.”

He looks back at him. “Well, they’re wrong.”

The therapist nods and then sets his legal pad on the coffee table. He smiles resignedly. Setting both feet on the floor, he leans forward toward Robby. “You know, anything you say in this room is said in the strictest confidence. I don’t report any aspect of our conversation to the police. The only thing that they will know from me is that you are willingly participating in the counseling.”

Robby shrugs. “I know.”

“Well then, what I need from you is honesty. The therapy won’t be nearly as effective if you aren’t one hundred percent honest with me.”

Robby leans back into his seat, crossing his arms tightly against his chest. “Okay.”

The therapist leans back too, crossing his legs again. He smiles genuinely. “So, do you think you might want to tell me why you felt you needed the windfall of money that would have come from selling all of that painting equipment?”

He leans the back of his head into the seat and looks up into the ceiling. He sighs and then slowly looks down into the therapist’s eyes. “I just did tell you. I needed money because I was jonesing. I wasn’t thinking straight. That’s all it was. Honest.”

The therapist smiles a tight grin and nods his head. He retrieves his legal pad from the coffee table. “Okay. Then we don’t need to talk about that anymore. Thank you.” He holds his pencil ready against the paper. “Can I ask you if you’ve had any urges since getting back?”

Robby rubs a finger slowly up and down the bridge of his nose. He looks at the therapist and flips his hair out of his eyes. “I’d be lying if I said no.” He smiles. “And I certainly would never lie to you.”

Not taking the bait, the therapist nods, but doesn’t write anything. “Have you seen anybody that you used to associate with drug use?”

Robby shakes his head. “Nope. P.P.T,” he quotes. “Avoid the people, places, and things that could trigger a relapse.”

The therapist smiles. “That’s good. I know the letters and the sayings can sound corny, but they can help you remember what you need to do.”


The therapist looks at the ground and then back into Robby’s eyes. “Can you tell me what has triggered any recent cravings?”

He rubs his palms together. “Shit, stress, I guess… things not working out the way I want them to.”

The therapist jots something down. “You mean with Tiffany and then with your old boss?”

Robby crosses his arms. “Yeah.”

After a moment, he looks up from the legal pad and smiles. “Has anything good happened? Have you accomplished anything that you’ve wanted to accomplish since coming home… even something relatively small?”

He shrugs. “I got a job.”

“Good. Good.” He writes.

“It’s a minimum wage job at a grocery store.”

The therapist smiles. “But you accomplished something. You went to an interview, and a stranger saw something good in you, something worth hiring. That’s maybe bigger than you’re giving it credit as being.”

Robby takes a breath and exhales. “I guess.”

“Really, you should write it on a piece of paper and tape the piece of paper on a wall where you’ll see it when you wake up in the morning. At the end of every day, write some accomplishment on it, even if you simply write, ‘I stayed clean today.’ When you fill the paper up, tape a blank piece next to it and fill that one. You’ll see pretty quickly that you’re accomplishing things every day… things worth celebrating. That can help offset the disappointments.”

Robby rolls his eyes.

“I know, I know, but I’ve had people tell me that their list of accomplishments made a bigger difference than they thought that it would. We get a lot more done in a day than we think, but it’s human nature to focus on what we didn’t get done. If you dwell too much on your perceived failures, it can drag you down, and that can trigger cravings.”

Robby laces his fingers in front of his face and touches his lips against the tips of his thumbs. He nods thoughtfully. “I guess that makes sense.”

“It’s not enough to just think about those accomplishments. Seeing them in writing… that can often have a much more profound effect.” He makes a note on his pad. “Writing in general can play a big role in your recovery. I’m sure they mentioned keeping a journal at New Sunrises.”

“They required it.”

The therapist nods. “Are you still keeping one now?”

“No. That didn’t really do anything for me. It just made me frustrated.” He flicks a finger into the palm of his other hand. “I don’t like to write like that.”

The therapist tilts his head and nods. “Well, not everything we recommend will work for you. You have to experiment. Will you at least try the list I mentioned? It doesn’t take much writing.”

Robby shrugs. “Yeah, I’ll try it.”

Buy “Detroit Muscle” at Amazon 

Jeff Vande Zande



Nicola is our Blog and Article Editor at Her work has been published internationally in many publications. She is a qualified Reflexologist, Masseuse and Life Coach. She has created content for for many years and was Editor at She has lived with type 1 diabetes since she was 7 years old.


  1. Great! A teasing intro with very familiar themes to any addict, in recovery or not. Can’t wait to read the rest when I get paid and can buy a copy!

  2. Ah…the wall is still up! I know that feeling – not wanting to delve into my own muck, even when prodded. And yet, I still say “no one understands me”! That line between wanting to talk, yet ego telling me that I can handle it all myself.

    Fantastic read – would love to read this book.


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