After his father’s incarceration when Jake was 11, Jake began sneaking cigarettes from his mother’s purse and alcohol from the liquor cabinet. He started having trouble in school and spent more and more time in detention when he did manage to show up. By his early twenties, Jake was using marijuana daily, as well as cocaine and pills on weekends.
When Jake got married at the age of 27, his wife was alarmed by his usage--a six-pack of beer and marijuana every weeknight, whiskey and cocaine on weekends--which he’d been able to hide while they were living apart. With her encouragement and the help of 12-step recovery meetings, he was able to stop using substances for nearly two decades. As life became busier he stopped attending meetings; after a bout of insomnia, Jake began drinking in secret each night to fall asleep.
Jake’s wife discovered his recurrence of use and confronted him. He figured stopping would be no problem as he’d done it before, but this time was much more difficult.
He desperately wanted to stop using alcohol, but had intense cravings and experienced excruciating withdrawal symptoms each morning until he drank.
Ashamed and depressed, he decided to move out. As his tolerance increased he had trouble showing up to work, and his overall health began to decline. His primary care physician told him that he was experiencing liver damage and needed to stop immediately, but Jake continued to drink for several more years as the consequences worsened; he lost his job and barely saw his children or grandchildren.
At his annual checkup, Jake’s primary care physician implored him to seek help again, but this time he was insistent. He offered a referral, treatment plan, and information about medications that could help Jake. The next morning, Jake checked in to an inpatient medical detox program, where he initiated the medication disulfiram, then went on to complete progressively lower levels of care: residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, individual and family counseling.
Today, Jake is actively engaged in a 12-step group. He is slowly rebuilding his relationship with his family.
Disulfiram (five years)
Alcoholics Anonymous (ongoing)