One of the most moving themes I hear from my patients has to do with how different their lives are in sobriety at the holidays.

A big, tattooed, talented father of two told us while we placed his long-acting naltrexone implant that the best thing about being clean was not being sick on Christmas morning. He did not need to find pills or dope, he was able to watch his kids scream with delight as every package was opened. He had even helped to assemble a dollhouse on Christmas Eve. A brutal task—clean or sober.

Celine came to us in the fall of last year because her first grandchild was on the way. Celine had patchy periods of not drinking, but even those were becoming fewer and fewer. Each morning she woke with the resolve not to drink, but by "Happy Hour" all those compelling early morning reasons were overshadowed by her brain’s quiet insistence that ‘one drink is fine’. Of course, it was more like one bottle. Then a bottle and a half; then two.

Celine had managed to be sober for her daughter’s wedding, and it was a joyful occasion. She was proud of herself, and her beautiful daughter was so grateful to have her mother be truly present. Her daughter’s pregnancy—and Celine’s relapse—quickly followed.

Without going into all the details, Celine was charged with a DUI; it wasn’t her first. This very elegant, 64-year-old woman, former owner and CEO of her own company was given 30 days in jail, to be served on weekends. She was mortified.


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She came to us for help and was started on long-acting naltrexone to help with cravings and Antabuse® (disulfiram) as a deterrent. Celine followed every suggestion offered, including attendance at Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP), attending 12 step meetings, and finding a sponsor.

At this writing, Celine is 18 months sober, and at every visit, she shows me pictures of Luke, her very charming grandson. Not only was she sober for his birth, his first Christmas, and all the other firsts that go along with having a wee human around, she is able to help her daughter and son-in-law by caring for Luke for several hour chunks of time.

“Everyone told me how fun being a grandmother would be, but I didn’t get it until now. I am so grateful for my sobriety and that I can be there for my daughter. I am so grateful Luke’s first months aren’t just a fuzzy blur, and that I’m competent to hold him, let alone care for him. I am so glad he will have memories of a grandmother who played with and read to and cuddled him—and doesn’t associate me with an alcohol smelling, word-slurring drunk.”

The programs at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine help patients safely and comfortably get off alcohol and opioids. These very addictive substances can be dangerous and difficult to stop on one’s own, or to stop abruptly. We work with motivated patients (although ambivalence is normal, so don’t let that stop you!) in an outpatient setting, so your loved ones can be an integral part of your 3 to 8-day treatment, depending on what you are being treated for.

You can call us at 877-773-3869 or schedule a callback and get details about our program or other good programs out there, but I think the most important question to ask yourself is: What do I value in my life? Are the behaviors I am choosing every day getting me closer to those values, or farther away?


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If an addictive substance is moving you farther and farther away from what you value most, consider giving us a call to see how we can help you.

Can you imagine the gift it would be for your loved ones if you were sober this Christmas?

Joan Shepherd, FNP

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