Patient Story: Paul’s Addiction

» 2 Comments

Art by Ariana Nouri

Paul is just shy of 20 years older than me. He is a very successful entrepreneur that found his way to my office while in his early days of sobriety. Part of what I do automatically when I meet a new potential patient is that I visually take him in. His body language, what he is wearing, the look on his face, the tone of his voice; everything I can before he even begins speaking.

He sat on my L-shaped couch closest to the door. This part of my couch is the only part without a back cushion, so naturally, no one likes to sit there. Paul, I believe, is the only patient who ever sat there. Of course, I took that as meaning one of two things: he either was so uncomfortable being in my office that he felt safest sitting next to the door, or, he felt he didn’t deserve cushioning on his back. Probably the truth was a combination of both.

Other than where he sat, I was struck by his posture and body language. He was in his first days of recovery. I’m used to seeing how miserable men and women look during their first days of sobriety, but Paul didn’t just look miserable. He looked utterly defeated.  He felt, as he later described to me, “deflated.”

Paul’s story, which he revealed to me slowly over many sessions, was not a typical one. He’d had a couple of years of frequently experimenting with drugs during his late teens and early twenties. It didn’t bode well for him. He ended up accidentally losing a small chunk of his body, and spent a year in a psychiatric ward because the drugs had made him severely mentally ill. I’m grateful on his behalf that his brain recovered from that bout of abuse. I’ve seen kids in their teens and twenties that have completely “fried their brain,” meaning they have lost or damaged enough of their brain that full cognitive recovery is impossible. Fortunately for Paul, he was more resilient and his brain recovered fully.

He did not enlist in a recovery program back then. He was not taught the saying “once an addict, always an addict.” He didn’t use hard drugs ever again, but he continued to drink “socially.” He managed to keep it at the social drinking level for many years. It is hard to decipher when one has gone from social drinking (entrepreneurs drink with their colleagues and clients at all events, which can occur daily), to problem drinking, to frank alcoholism. He would say he had been at least four or five years an alcoholic before deciding to quit.

No one in his family or friends knew about his problem. He was what is called a “functioning alcoholic.” Meaning he was working and accomplishing his daily activities and doing a good job at that, and was drinking himself almost to a stupor every night. No one could ever suspect that his alcohol consumption was destroying him at so many levels. The last straw was one night on a business trip in a hotel room, when he returned to his room from a night of drinking, tripped over himself, fell, broke a rib, and the fractured rib damaged his lung. So he was “deflated.” As he said to me, “physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”

That is how he ended up on my couch, closest to the door, hunched over his tall figure, speaking mostly to the ground under my feet rather than me, looking utterly hopeless and defeated. He told me he was “desperate” to find his spirituality, and that he didn’t have “a spiritual bone” in his body. It took less than an hour of talking to him to understand that underneath that defeated, deflated, hopeless shell of a man, was a very determined and spiritual being. Somehow, from our first encounter, we both knew we would work well together.

This time he elicited all the help he could. He enrolled in the highest level of recovery, joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and went daily, found himself a sponsor, and came to me for intensive psychotherapy. He reached out to all of the resources available to him.

He walked out of my office that first day taller than he had walked in. Ever since that first meeting, he never sat close to the door again, and I had the pleasure of watching the glow of sobriety as it grew on him over the months. In my job, many times I experience the heartbreak of watching my patients relapse, but the light and new life that I see in my patients that accomplish long term sobriety always makes it worth while, and I never give up on any of them. Paul did all the hard work himself. He made my work easy for me.



One Comment

  1. Paul Jones
    Posted November 26, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I had not had a drink for a whole week when I came to see Beheshti. I managed that with the help of AA meetings, some new friends, Oxycontin for my broken ribs and most importantly I’d seen the abyss and turned back. It was the first time in nearly four years I had lived a week without alcohol.

    I have friends in AA who know they were born alcoholic. That was not the case for me. My spiral was set off by the weight of unresolved and deeply buried childhood trauma combined with the loneliness of divorce.

    Attaining alcoholism was a pernicious process. Over the months a couple glasses of wine became half a bottle then most of a bottle. Eventually a bottle was not enough. Thankfully two was almost always too much. I knew I could quit though so I did. Hundreds of mornings hung-over and hurting I quit with perfect sincerity. I quit forever. I could have passed a lie detector test. And hundreds of evenings I drank again because I was happy or sad, I’d found someone or lost someone or I felt daring or dull. Often it made more sense to quit later. There was no end of reasons.

    And yes I was a high functioning alcoholic. I was no Winston Churchill “the highest functioning alcoholic of the last century” http://davidsimon.com/stray-penises-and-politicos/comment-page-1/#comment-4619 but I was a very good one. My trick was to compensate by surrounding myself with great people and gradually shrinking my duties. I had previously achieved such success that my partners and associates perceived me as now simply exercising quiet power. The truth was I lived in quiet agony. And I was a natural when it came to hiding myself. I could hide in plain sight and even better, home alone. When I was finally able to tell a few people close to me of my condition they were entirely surprised.

    My fall in the hotel room was the end of the end game of self-abandonment. Alone, afraid and entirely deflated I knew my choice was to enter the next much darker phase of alcoholism or seek help and live.

    Now, sitting in an office with a woman whose name I can’t pronounce, I have an insurmountable problem. I believe, quite sensibly given my many failed efforts, that AA is my only hope for sobriety. I have a big problem though. The AA people are telling me “to be sober you have to have a spiritual connection”. “What?” “Wait a minute do you really mean that”? “Yes we do”. “Uhho”. I know spirituality is something I don’t have. I feel nothing against spirituality; I just wasn’t born with it. It’s like, pick a preference, telling a gay man he needed to become straight and believe it.

    I explain to her that I just don’t have a spiritual bone in my body. I will never forget her response. She arched her eyebrows, smiled and said “oh really”. It took nearly a nano-second for me to realize she knew something I didn’t. To this day it’s emotional to remember the moment.

    My other memory from that day is the light and lightness about her. She’s the stranger sitting next to you on the plane that you are just drawn to start talking to without pretense. It’s a very unusual quality. Some part of me, nearly lost, connected with that.

    This was the beginning of a key collaboration for me. Later I learned about what I’ll call the Beheshti process. It was very valuable for me. I think I’d like to describe a patient’s perspective of that process and post the description another day.

    Paul

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.



Terms & Conditions of Use


By entering this website you agree to the following terms and conditions:

1. No Medical Advice

The content of www.advice.doctorbeheshti.com site is for informational purposes only. Sayeh Beheshti, MD, Inc. (“SBMD“), operates and owns this site. DOCTOR LIFE ADVICE℠ is a servicemark of SBMD. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. This site does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by here, or other visitors to the site is solely at your own risk.

2. Privacy

2.1 Personal Information

If you choose to register with SBMD or access certain functionality on the SBMD Site, you may be required to submit Personal information. “Personal information” means information that we can use to identify or contact you, such as your name, address, telephone number or email address. Some of our interactive tools and services may request you to submit health information, which would also be considered Personal Information. You are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the Personal information that you submit to SBMD. Inaccurate information will affect your experience when using the SBMD Site and tools and our ability to contact you as described in this Privacy Policy.

2.2 Cookies and Web Beacons

We may collect Non-Personal information about your use of the SBMD Site and your use of other Site through the use of cookies and web beacons. “Cookies” are small data files that are stored on the hard drive of the computer you use to view a web site. Every computer that accesses the SBMD Site is assigned a different cookie by SBMD. “Web Beacons” are graphic image files imbedded in a web page typically used to monitor activity on a web page and send back to its home server (which can belong to the host site, a network advertiser or some other third party) information from your browser, such as the IP address, the URL of the page on which the beacon is located, the type browser that is accessing the site and the ID number of any cookies on your computer previously placed by that server.

2.3 How Information Collected About You Is Used

Information collected by SBMD about you is used by SBMD to:

  • administer your account,
  • provide you with access to particular tools and services,
  • respond to your inquiries you send to us,
  • obtain your feedback about the SBMD Site or our offerings,
  • statistically analyze user behavior and activity including how frequently areas of the site are visited and how many emails are received and opened,
  • provide you with more relevant content or advertising on the SBMD Site; and
  • conduct research and measurement activities, including those described below.

SBMD may combine personal and non-personal information collected by SBMD about you, and may combine this information with information from external sources. We may also use cookies in order to enable us to conduct surveys for our own use and on behalf of our advertisers. These cookies are used to determine whether you have seen certain content or advertising so that we may request your opinions. We may also use cookies to authenticate respondents or to help you pick up where you left off in a survey. If you have cookies disabled you may not be able to participate in some surveys.

2.4 Research and Measurement Activities

Information that SBMD collects about you may be combined by SBMD with other information available to SBMD through third parties for research and measurement purposes, including measuring the effectiveness of content, advertising or programs. This information from other sources may include age, gender, demographic, geographic, personal interests, product purchase activity or other information. We may report aggregate information to our current or prospective advertisers and other business partners.

2.5 Sharing Your Information

Except as described in this privacy policy or as specifically agreed to by you, SBMD will not disclose any personal information it gathers from you through the SBMD Site. We may only release personal information to third parties: (1) to comply with the law; or (2) in special cases, such as in response to a physical threat to you or others, to protect property or defend or assert legal rights. In addition, we may disclose personal information as described below.

2.6 How Do We Secure and Retain Your Information?

We take reasonable security measures to protect the security of your personal information. Despite SBMD's efforts to protect your personal information, there is always some risk that an unauthorized third party may find a way around our security systems or that transmissions of your information over the Internet may be intercepted.

We will retain your Personal Information as long as needed to provide you services. At any time you can remove your Personal Information or instruct us to remove it, but you should be aware that it is not technologically possible to remove each and every record of the information you have provided to SBMD from our servers. We will also retain your personal information as necessary to comply with legal obligations, resolve disputes and enforce our agreements.

2.7 Changes to This Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change or modify this privacy policy or any of our tools or services at any time and any changes will be effective upon being posted unless we advise otherwise. We encourage you to periodically review this website for the latest information on our privacy practices. If you do not accept the terms of this privacy policy, we ask that you do not register with us and that you do not use the SBMD Site.

2.8 What Choices Do I Have?

Updating and/or Removing Your Personal information

If you do not want your personal information used by SBMD as provided in this privacy policy, you should not register as a member or for any specific tool or application that collects personal information. You can correct, update or review personal information you have previously submitted by going back to the specific tool or application, logging-in and making the desired change. You can also update any personal information you have submitted by contacting us using the contact information listed below.

If you have registered and desire to delete any your personal information you have provided to us from our systems please contact us. Upon your request, we will delete your personal information from our active databases and where feasible from our back-up media to the extent it is feasible to do so. You should be aware that it is not technologically possible to remove each and every record of the information you have provided to the SBMD Site from our servers.

3. Use of Content

SBMD authorizes you to view or download a single copy of the material on this site solely for your personal, noncommercial use if you include the following copyright notice: “©2013, http://advice.doctorbeheshti.com. All rights reserved” and other copyright and proprietary rights notices that are contained in the content.

The content is protected by copyright under both United States and foreign laws. Title to the content remains with SBMD. Any use of the content not expressly permitted by these Terms and Conditions is a breach of these Terms and Conditions and may violate copyright, trademark, and other laws. Content and features are subject to change or termination without notice in the exclsuive discretion of SBMD. All rights not expressly granted herein are reserved to SBMD.

4. Liability of SBMD and any affiliates or associates

The use of this site and the content is at your own risk. When using this site, information may be transmitted over a medium that may be beyond the control and jurisdiction of SBMD and its suppliers. Accordingly, Dr. Sayeh Behesthi and/or SBMD assumes no liability for or relating to the delay, failure, interruption, or corruption of any data or other information transmitted in connection with use of this site.

The SBMD Site and the content are provided on an “as is” basis. SBMD, ITS LICENSORS, AND ITS SUPPLIERS, TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, NON-INFRINGEMENT OF THIRD PARTIES’ RIGHTS, WARRANTY OF ACCURACY, WARRANTY OF AND FITNESS FOR PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Without limiting the foregoing, SBMD, its licensors, and its suppliers make no representations or warranties about the following:

      1. The accuracy, reliability, completeness, correctness, or timeliness of the Content, of the SBMD Site.

      2. The satisfaction of any government regulations requiring disclosure of information on prescription drug products or the approval or compliance of any software tools with regard to the content contained on the SBMD Site.

In no event shall SBMD, its licensors, its suppliers, or any third parties mentioned on the SBMD Site be liable for any damages (including, without limitation, incidental and consequential damages, personal injury/wrongful death, lost profits, or damages resulting from lost data or business interruption) resulting from the use of or inability to use the SBMD Site or the content, whether based on warranty, contract, tort, or any other legal theory, and whether or not SBMD, its licensors, its suppliers, or any third parties mentioned on the SBMD Site are advised of the possibility of such damages. SBMD, its licensors, its suppliers, or any third parties mentioned on the SBMD Site are not liable for any personal injury, including death, caused by your use or misuse of the Site. Remedies under these Terms and Conditions are exclusive and are limited to those expressly provided for in these Terms and Conditions.

5. User Submissions

5.1 The personal information you submit to SBMD is governed by the SBMD Privacy Policy. To the extent there is an inconsistency between this Agreement and the SBMD Privacy Policy, this Agreement would govern. The Site contains functionality (including blogs, message boards, etc.) that allows users to upload content to the Site. You agree that you will not upload or transmit any communications or content of any type that infringe or violate any rights of any party. By submitting communications or content to the Site, you agree that such submission is non-confidential for all purposes. If you make any such submission you agree that you will not send or transmit to SBMD by email, any communication or content that infringes or violates any rights of any party. If you submit any business information, idea, concept or invention to SBMD by email, you agree such submission is non-confidential for all purposes. If you make any submission to the Site or if you submit any business information, idea, concept or invention to SBMD by email, you automatically grant-or warrant that the owner of such content or intellectual property has expressly granted-SBMD a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, world-wide nonexclusive license to use, reproduce, create derivative works from, modify, publish, edit, translate, distribute, perform, and display the communication or content in any media or medium, or any form, format, or forum now known or hereafter developed. SBMD may sublicense its rights through multiple tiers of sublicenses. If you wish to keep any business information, ideas, concepts or inventions private or proprietary, do not submit them to SBMD.

5.2 SBMD Community and Member to Member Areas

If you use a Public Area, such as message boards, blogs, Ask The Doctor, you are solely responsible for your own communications, the consequences of posting those communications, and your reliance on any communications found in the Public Areas. SBMD and its licensors are not responsible for the consequences of any communications in the Public Areas. In cases where you feel threatened or believe someone else is in danger, you should contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. In consideration of being allowed to use the Public Areas, you agree that the following actions shall constitute a material breach of these Terms and Conditions:

      1. Using a Public Area for any purpose in violation of the laws;

      2. Posting material that infringes on the intellectual property rights of others;

      3. Posting material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, hateful, or embarrassing to any other person or entity as determined by SBMD in its sole discretion;

      4. Posting advertisements or solicitations of business;

      5. After receiving a warning, continuing to disrupt the normal flow of dialogue, or posting comments that are not related to the topic being discussed;

      6. Impersonating another person;

      7. Distributing viruses or other harmful computer code;

      8. Harvesting, scraping or otherwise collecting information about others, including email addresses, without their identification for posting or viewing comments;

      9. Allowing any other person or entity to use your identification for posting or viewing comments; or

      10. Engaging in any other conduct that restricts or inhibits any other person from using or enjoying the Site.

SBMD or its licensors have no liability or responsibility to users of the SBMD Site or any other person or entity for performance or nonperformance of the aforementioned activities.

6. Advertisements, Searches, and Links to Other Sites

SBMD may provide links to third-party Site to allow advertisers to respond to certain search terms with advertisements or sponsored content. SBMD does not recommend and does not endorse the content on any third-party websites. SBMD is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites, sites framed within the SBMD Site, third-party sites provided as search results, or third-party advertisements, and does not make any representations regarding their content or accuracy. Your use of third-party websites is at your own risk and subject to the terms and conditions of use for such sites.

7. Indemnity

You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold SBMD, its officers, directors, employees, agents, licensors, and suppliers, harmless from and against any claims, actions or demands, liabilities and settlements including without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, resulting from, or alleged to result from, your violation of these Terms and Conditions.

8. General

SBMD is based in Newport Beach, California, in the United States of America. SBMD makes no claims that SBMD Site and the Content are appropriate or may be downloaded outside of the United States. Access to the Content may not be legal by certain persons or in certain countries. If you access the SBMD Network from outside the United States, you do so at your own risk and are responsible for compliance with the laws of your jurisdiction. The following provisions survive the expiration or termination of this Agreement for any reason whatsoever: Liability, Indemnity, Jurisdiction, and Complete Agreement.

9. Jurisdiction

You expressly agree that exclusive jurisdiction for any dispute with SBMD, or in any way relating to your use of the SBMD Site, resides in the courts of the State of California, County of Orange, and you further agree and expressly consent to the exercise of personal jurisdiction in the courts of the State of California in connection with any such dispute including any claim involving SBMD or its affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, contractors, officers, directors, telecommunication providers, and content providers. Notwithstanding any other provision, you agree to a final and binding arbitration in Orange County, State of California to resolve any dispute between you and SBMD and/or Dr. Sayeh Beheshti arising from or related to your use of the SBMD Site in any way, shape or form.

These Terms and Conditions are governed by the internal substantive laws of the State of California, without respect to its conflict of laws principles. If any provision of these Terms and Conditions is found to be invalid by any court having competent jurisdiction, the invalidity of such provision shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions of these Terms and Conditions, which shall remain in full force and effect. No waiver of any of these Terms and Conditions shall be deemed a further or continuing waiver of such term or condition or any other term or condition.

10. Complete Agreement

These Terms and Conditions and the SBMD Privacy Policy constitute the entire agreement between you and SBMD with respect to the use of the SBMD Site, and its content.

×

Disclaimers


DOCTOR LIFE ADVICE IS NOT INTENDED FOR PROVIDING MEDICAL OR PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSES OR ADVICE, AND IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR SEEKING THE HELP OF A PHYSICIAN. DOCTOR BEHESHTI, THE AUTHOR OF THE ARTICLES DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL OR PSYCHIATRIC DIGNOSIS, TREATMENT, OR ADVICE ON THIS PAGE.

IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A MEDICAL OR PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL 911 OR GO TO YOUR NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM. THIS SITE IS NOT INTENDED FOR PROVIDING EMERGENCY SERVICES OF ANY KIND.

This website contains questions, answers, graphics, drawing, and other content and material, all of which are for informational purposes only, and are public information. Any questions submitted will be reviewed, and if they are to be answered, the content of the question may be edited for purposes of making it easier to read, and to protect the submitters' identity.

The content of this website is not intended for forming a doctor-patient relationship. Whether or not you get a response to your question, you should be aware that you have not formed a doctor-patient relationship with Doctor Beheshti, and she is not liable for your medical and mental health or wellbeing. Use the responses provided on this website at your own risk, and do not use them in place of a physician's advice.

This website is not intended to replace seeking advice from your physicians. Always seek the advice of a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other health care professionals for issues concerning your physical and mental health. If you submit a question which does not get a response, do not consider that as a sign that you should not seek out the care of a physician.

WARNING

ALTHOUGH AT DOCTOR LIFE ADVICE WE RESPECT THE PRIVACY OF ALL INDIVIDUALS, THE CONTENT OF THIS WEBSITE IS COMPLETELY PUBLIC. THE BEST EFFORTS WILL BE MADE TO MAINTAIN YOUR ANONIMITY WHEN YOUR QUESTIONS ARE POSTED ON THE WEBSITE; HOWEVER, PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOUR QUESTION MAY BE POSTED ON THE SITE WITH MINIMAL MODIFICATION AND WILL BE AVAILABLE TO ANY AND ALL READERS THAT ACCESS THIS WEBSITE. PLEASE TAKE EXTRA CARE TO PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY AND CONFIDENTIALITY WHEN YOU SUBMIT A QUESTION OR INQUIRY. DOCTOR LIFE ADVICE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE IF SOMEONE IDENTIFIES YOU BASED ON THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN YOUR QUESTION. YOUR IDTENTIFYING INFORMATION PROVIDED BY YOUR EMAIL, SUCH AS EMAIL ADDRESS, NAME, IP ADDRESS, ETC. WILL ALL BE REMOVED AND DELETED FROM OUR EMAIL ACCOUNT BEFORE YOUR QUESTION IS POSTED.

×

Helpful Resources




×

About Doctor Life Advice

Doctor Beheshti

I am a compassionate and well trained psychiatric doctor, and I spend my days talking to others and helping them with their daily issues and problems. I have come to understand that all of us, regardless of our backgrounds and our life stories - every one of which is unique - share similar wants and needs.

I love my job which allows me to hear unique stories and help each of my clients individually. Although I cannot take the place of your doctor, I would love to hear your story too and perhaps provide some advice that will be useful to you, as well as others that will benefit from your story.

I have a sense of humor which comes through in my writings. Please know that I NEVER intend to make light of anyone's painful or sensitive situation. I only use humor because I think sometimes a smile and a little chuckle can go a long way in helping us feel better.

Doctor Life Advice is written and maintained by Sayeh Beheshti, M.D., M.A., a private practice psychiatrist in Newport Beach, CA.


×