“I haven’t had a drink since December 12,” he said proudly. “Liquor stores I can deal with. But every time the bus goes by that 7-Eleven, I see that place in the cooler where my favorite beer sits, waiting. It haunts me; I haven’t figured out a way around it.”
I was telephoning them ten years after their first interview, to ask for their participation in a follow-up study of impaired-driving offenders. “Sure, I remember that interview,” she said kindly. “That was the day I stopped drinking.”
She had so many arrests the bondsman got to know her. After many years she quit drinking. When she saved enough to pay her debt, she visited him again. He smiled and, against the rules, presented her last mug shot. “You can have it,” he said, “You don’t have to look like that no more.”
“That medication you gave me worked,” he blurted at his next office visit. “I didn’t feel drunk even after 12 beers.”
“The medication was intended to stop your craving so you wouldn’t want to drink, not to prevent you from getting drunk,” I said.
“Yea, I know, but I was curious,” he demurred.
Tit for Tat
My patient, a repeat offender, finally quit drinking. “Great,” I said. “How did you do it?”
“A drunk driver crashed into my car,” she said.
Margie could put away ten shots of tequila and twenty beers in a sitting. One such night, she tumbled down a flight of stairs, striking her head hard, and woke up. She hasn’t had a drink since.
She had a broken wrist one month, a swollen face the next. Fell down the stairs? Accident at the gym?
I met him at a party—he had been drinking. His glower surprised, and scared me. I ended the innocuous discourse abruptly. I knew.
She hadn’t had a drink since starting the medication.
“I want to quit the study,” she announced.
“I don’t need to drink any more. Even with alcohol in the house, my urges to drink are gone.”
“Do you think it’s the medication?”
“Then why stop taking it?”