Fred, 43

Periodic Alcoholic

I consulted Dr. Barge when my family was at their wit’s end with me and I honestly was completely confused and demoralized (embarrassed). I just couldn’t figure it out?


I am a Stock Broker with a successful Downtown firm. I go to work early and almost always leave work by 4:00 latest. Getting on the freeway to get to my family and beautiful home on the cliffs of Palos Verdes is something I always look forward to. But sometimes work goes over, later and it’s pointless to get onto the freeway until traffic dies down. This happens maybe once a month, at most.


This is when my situation becomes baffling. It’s too late to get on the road, so I go with the guys for a beer or two. When traffic dies down, I get on the freeway to get home. This works out about half of the time; the other half, is a total nightmare.


For reasons I could never explain and I still don’t completely understand, 4-5 times a year those one or two beers turned into many beers and more drinking that I don’t remember. I remember nothing after the 2nd/3rd drink. Apparently I close down the bar and take myself to [the same] seedy motel to crash for the night. In this blackout, I don’t call home. In fact, I wake up in the morning with no memory of getting there, checking-in; nothing! I remember nothing after the first 2-3 drinks.


Well you can imagine what my wife and teenage kids think of me. They’ve been up all night calling Highway Patrol, police; worried sick. My wife had become convinced I was having an affair. Like me, they couldn’t understand it or believe it.


Dr. Barge told me it was “alcoholism.” How could that be? I went days, weeks, without drinking or even thinking about it.


She had to work hard to get through my resistance but she finally helped me realize that I am an alcoholic. I am powerless over alcohol, “once I ingest it.” I don’t know if I’ll have two beers and come home or wind up in that motel!


It’s called a “Periodic” alcoholic and it all has to do with my brain’s chemical reactions to alcohol. It’s simply not predictable and it obviously does not happen to non-alcoholic people. My mother was an alcoholic but I guess I was in denial and did not want to make the genetic connection. After all, I rarely drank. Well I get it now and I no longer drink a drop of alcohol ever! It’s taken a long time for my family to trust me again but we are finally coming together.


I am so lucky that I wasn’t robbed or killed in that motel where I ended up, on those blackout nights…


NOTE: Patient stories are real life stories. The identities are disguised and sometimes, a composite to protect patients. No identity should be assumed with any of these stories.