Throughout this blog I use the name ‘Horatio’ to refer to my brother. The purpose of this pseudonym is to protect his real name, in effect protecting his identity. Of course, if one were to pry deep enough, then he or she could discover this information. It is my hope that nobody in this small corner of the blogging world has enough interest to do so.
The reason that I discuss my brother, Horatio, is due to the fact that over the years I have invested an increasing amount of interest and energy in to helping him. Since he was 16 years old he has progressed from being a ‘social drinker’ until his early 20′s when his habits progressed to ‘alcohol abuse.’ He would binge drink and black out at least every Friday and Saturday night. In his late twenties he bought a house, got married and acquired a couple of cats. As for his drinking, it continued to spiral until he became ‘alcohol dependent.’
He is now in his early 30′s and has been in this state of alcohol dependence for nearly a decade. Our whole family can see the effects that it has on his body and we are all saddened by it. His hands constantly tremble, his memory has as many wholes as a cheese grater, and he constantly has new scars on his body that he passes of as bicycling accidents. Many of my siblings want to help him, but not many know what to or how to handle him.
To say that he has not had a profound effect on my choices throughout my medical school education would be a lie. I have oriented much of my learning and teaching opportunities toward substance abuse and therapy. My choice to enter Psychiatry was even influenced by these situations. Now that I have spent many years learning what I can do for him, I try to spread the knowledge to my family (particularly, my father) so that they can also be equipped with the tools to help him when he asks for it. Now it is up to Horatio to determine when he has met his limit and has found the motivation to abstain permanently.
It is my hope that you and I will also be able to learn and teach each other through our experiences. My knowledge is limited whereas yours is expansive, so please do share.