Keenan is a soft-spoken barber in his mid 40’s. He is a born listener. But when he speaks, everyone listens. As an established barber in his community for the last eighteen years, Keenan 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,” Keenan told me. He has several customers like to stick around, after they have had a cut and shave, to socialize. This includes finishing off bottles of bourbon. They are all bourbon connoisseurs.
Keenan is also a devoted family man. He and his wife have three grown children who are out of the house, and a 14 year old high school freshman named Ellie. Michaels says, “ That one, she’s my heart.” It was Ellie that prompted Michael to take a deeper look at his drinking habits.
Warning Sign of Alcohol Use Disorder
A part of Ellie’s school curriculum is learning about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. One evening while Keenan was still working, Ellie quietly asked her mother, “Is Daddy an alcoholic?” She learned 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.
Ellie has always associated her dad with the smells of bourbon and aftershave. He never got loud or mean, but she always saw him with a glass in hand, sipping. If they watched a movie together, she could count on her dad nodding off before it ended.
She knew immediately her daddy fell into the high-risk category, and she was terrified.
Ellie’s mom was surprised she asked that question. She was worried about Keenan’s drinking habits too, but didn’t know Ellie had noticed them as well.
The Decision to Stop Drinking
When Keenan’s wife told him what Ellie had asked, he was crushed. “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 always be her superman.
Keenan knew stopping alcohol abruptly could be dangerous.
“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.”
Family As Motivation for Sobriety
To mitigate the risk and minimize withdrawal symptoms, Keenan came to Coleman Addiction Medicine.
Keenan 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. He has shared his experiences with others and has found several former drinkers who have helped him reinforce his commitment to himself, his wife, and Ellie.
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 told me with a huge grin.
If you are feeling compelled to explore your own drinking habits and are concerned about possible dangers of abrupt cessation, 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