Michael, 40, is a born listener. He is the kind of person who speaks with great care for the words he uses. He never talks just to talk; everything he says has deep meaning. Michael is a well-known barber in his community. He admitted to me that he sipped bourbon all day long as he coiffed his clients and they shared their stories.
A Heavy Drinking Habit
“I like good bourbon,” Michael told me. He has several customers that share this appreciation. In fact, it is the norm for customers, following a cut and shave, to social while finishing off their respective bottles. They were all bourbon connoisseurs.
But Michael is a family man, too. He enjoys his time off at home. He and his wife have a 14 year old daughter named Monica who is a freshman in high school. “That one, she’s my heart,” he told me.
It was something Monica said one day that would motivate Michael to look deeply at his relationship with alcohol.
Warning Sign of Alcohol Use Disorder
As part of her physical education curriculum at school, Monica’s class was learning about drugs and alcohol. After dinner one evening when Michael was still at the shop, Monica quietly asked her mother, “Is Daddy an alcoholic?”
Monica associated her dad with the smells of bourbon and aftershave. He never got loud or mean, but she rarely saw him without a glass, sipping throughout the afternoon and evening. Many evenings he would start watching a movie with her, but rarely got to the end before he nodded off.
Monica learned in school about how alcohol can damage the liver and the brain and how many drinks are considered ‘high risk’ for men and women.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines high-risk alcohol use as four drinks per day or 14 in a week for men, and more than three drinks a day or seven per week for women.
Monica knew immediately her daddy fell into the high-risk category, and she was worried. Monica’s mom was shocked when her daughter asked the question. She, too, had been worried about Michael’s drinking, but didn’t realize Monica had noticed, too.
The Decision to Stop Drinking
When his wife told Micael what his daughter had asked, he felt like he’d been punched in the gut. “I’m her superman,” he told me quietly, tearing up. Alcohol was his kryptonite.
And that’s what led to his decision to stop drinking. He wanted to be superman for his daughter.
Stopping alcohol abruptly can be dangerous, and it is important to understand if your drinking is at the point that you require medical intervention.
“The sustained use of alcohol deprives the brain of crucial nutrients and, when left untreated, can lead to brain damage and seizures. The Coleman Method for alcohol detox begins by replenishing the vitamins and minerals your brain needs, then we offer medication to keep you calm, comfortable and safe as your blood alcohol level drops. After a few hours of careful monitoring and supervision, you’ll be able to go home. For the next two days, you’ll return to our office regularly as you continue to completely detox.”
Following the detox, patients get a naltrexone implant. Naltrexone helps people curb their desire for alcohol.
Family As Motivation for Sobriety
Michael has been to the office for one follow up visit since he stopped drinking, and, unsurprisingly, is listening to his customers’ stories with a new filter. Michael knows he is early in sobriety, but he is humbly sharing his experiences with others. He has even found several former drinkers who have helped him reinforce his commitment to himself, his wife, and Monica.
He feels better, he has lost twelve pounds, and he sleeps better. “I am staying awake until the end of the movies I watch with my daughter,” he said.
If you are feeling compelled to take a deeper look at your own drinking habits and are concerned about possible dangers of abruptly stopping drinking, please schedule a callback with one of our addiction treatment experts today.
There may be someone out there just waiting for the return of their superhero.
Joan R. Shepherd, FNP