Friday, August 12, 2011

Tattoo tells all

I heard a chilling story from a patient yesterday.

Jimmy (not his name, of course) came in for a re-fill on his Antabuse. Antabuse, for those who are unfamiliar, is a drug that can make you pretty ill if you ingest alcohol while taking. He had about 4 months sobriety from drinking when he fell off the wagon and went on a pretty huge bender for about a week. He woke up in his room, slumped at his desk to find a suicide note that he’d written. He had no memory of writing it. He implored whomever found the note to “take care of his daughter” and that “it was no one’s fault but my own”. On his computer screen—again something he had no memory of—was a page describing the easiest ways to kill oneself.

Pretty scary, huh?

So like a good alcoholic, he went to the bar. I’m guessing to celebrate the fact that he was still alive.

There he ran into a girl who he’d known for a long time. She knew of his struggles with alcohol. He joined her and her friend. He says he was carrying a drink in each hand when he sat down at the table and before the girl could introduce Jimmy to her friend, the guy says, “I like your tattoo.” It was the AA insignia with a date; the date was about a year earlier and it was meant to be the last relapse. Clearly it was time to revisit the tattoo studio and have things updated.

A bit confused and embarrassed, Jimmy noticed that the guy was drinking tea. He was in The Program.

Jimmy got really drunk that night. When he got home he says he just prayed for God’s help.

Be careful what you ask for. The next day there’s a knock on his door, and there stands Tea Drinker. “Let’s go to a meeting,” he says.

That was 30 days ago and Jimmy’s got the chip to show for it. He’s refilled his antabuse, he’s going to meetings, he’s signed up for classes to start school this fall. There’s every reason to believe that this relapse date can be at the bottom of the tattoo.

For people who just can’t stop drinking and have experienced dangerous DTs or seizures when they’ve tried in the past, call The Coleman Institute to find out about our Accelerated Alcohol Detox. It’s a safe and discrete way to stop. We’ll hook you up with some good treatment ideas and give you the option of a naltrexone implant which has been shown to cut cravings and relapse in chronic alcoholism.

Joan R. Shepherd NP

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