Sharon, a 55 year old female, looked tired and disheveled the day we first met. She told me she was struggling with a myriad of symptoms including poor sleep, anxiety, depression, brain fog and relationship conflict. Sharon had been coping with these symptoms for several years on her own. At first, she would push through her work day with the promise of happy hour at the end of the day. Even though she’d never been much of a drinker, she found happy hour with her colleagues to be a particularly pleasant respite from the stress of her work day and a way to avoid going home where increasing conflict with her husband was waiting. After a few months of daily happy hours though, she reasoned that a cocktail at lunch would offer her even more relief from the stressors in her life. One cocktail at lunch quickly turned into two, then three, then one fateful Wednesday, turned into more cocktails than she could remember. When she returned to the office to finish out the day, she was clearly intoxicated, prompting an invitation to speak with her HR representative who told her to take some time off and call her employee assistance program to help her “get some help.” Sharon was ashamed and overwhelmed and now sitting in my office asking for help.
Sharon agreed to individual therapy sessions once a week along with marriage therapy sessions biweekly with her husband. She agreed to start medication to help reduce her anxiety and depression symptoms and to help decrease her alcohol cravings. She didn’t get better overnight. She had several relapses into excessive alcohol use and for a time, she and her husband separated. However, Sharon wasn’t one to give up easily and she kept coming back and facing her setbacks head on, each time. She was honest with herself and her treatment team. And she got better, one day at a time. Now Sharon is back to work full time, has a “better relationship with my husband than I’ve ever imagined was possible” and volunteers two nights a week at a local residential treatment home for young women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.