The meeting with Mr. Hernandez takes place in the living room of their home. There is a little mess around the place as the children play at the side. The small window lets in a little light into the room. Mr. Hernandez walks in and sits uncomfortably at the armchair opposite to where I was.
Mr. Hernandez: Ow, sorry for keeping you waiting. (He struggles to speak as fluent as possible)
Me: No, its fine. Your children have been wonderful hosts.
Mr. Hernandez: Hey! Go play in your room (He shouts and the children obey immediately, leaving their toys behind).
Me: Okay, so tell me How have you been? I can see you are trying to keep fit. All those weights belong to you? (I ask, pointing towards the entrance where weights have been carelessly placed)
Mr. Hernandez: Yes. YesI have had them for a while now. Though I rarely use them nowadays. See am always busy.
Me: I have always been fascinated by weight but I guess it has never really been my cup of tea. Maybe you could show me how to handle them some other time.
Mr. Hernandez: (Laughs uneasily) I doubt you could handle these as you are still a beginner.
Me: Anyway, I enjoyed this glass of water I was very thirsty. So, how have you been since our last encounter?
Mr. Hernandez: I have been good just trying to avoid trouble in the house and maintain my peace.
Me: Okay, that is encouraging. So do you think you are ready for the next step? Can we carry on from where we left?
Mr. Hernandez: Well, YesIf you say so. I really want to fix things as soon as possible.
Me: That is great! So, tell me have you had anything to drink over the weekend?
Mr. Hernandez: Well, I went out with a couple of guys they insisted. I only took a few bottles of beer.
Me: So what is so good about taking alcohol, aside from the temporary relief it provides to you?
Mr. Hernandez: Weill don't know I just feel good. When am out with other guys, I can spill all my problems over a bottle of beer. This would be hard to do when we were all sober and thinking rationally you know I do not want to be viewed as a weak individual who cannot control his life or family situation. This is why I would rather talk to men who are already in another world. Actually, I feel good because most will think that they were imagining it.
Me: How do they react? Considering the fact that they are also drunk and unable to think straight? Do they offer you advice?
Mr. Hernandez: Well, you see, they just nod and give a few ideas but mostly they just nod their heads and I feel good having let things off my chest.
Me: Is there really a lasting benefit to the alcohol intake?
Mr. Hernandez: Now that you put it that way, I don't think there is really something to benefit from. It is all just an illusion. I don't know what else to do to ease my worries and stress, you get what am trying to mean here?
Me: Yes, I do. Have you ever realized any not-so-good effects of alcohol use?
Mr. Hernandez: Of course, I see these all the time. But the worst is the hangover I get on the next day. It's just horrible. I waste all day not being able to do anything you know. My financial problems keep piling up by the day. I also I hate having to buy people beer just so they can listen to my problems.
Me: I think you are on the right track. Can I share information about the same issue?
Mr. Hernandez: Yes, I am listening.
Me: Remember the audit you were requested to fill? The results indicate that you currently fall under the at-risk use. From your responses, it is clear that you still don't think that it impacts your health. This may be true at the moment, but with time, you are bound to start experiencing both physical and mental problems. Your reflex and concentration may be lowered as brain activity becomes reduced. Your emotions will also start to get out of hand, just as soon as your sleep also becomes disrupted. With time, the long-term effects may cause loss of consciousness every now and then. Eventually, death may be experienced.
Mr. Hernandez: Wait what? How come no one has ever mentioned this? I should have known earlier that such side effects exist! (He looks shaken and nods for me to carry on)
Me: Now that you know about these, how do you feel about making a change?
Mr. Hernandez: No am so scared right now! I am ready to get the help I need in fact as soon as is possible. All I need is to know what I should do to break the habit.
Me: Okay, so what I would suggest is getting your risk down as much as possible. Do you think you can reduce your alcohol intake to only 2 bottles every weekend?
Mr. Hernandez: Yes, I could try
Me: Great! That is what we will start with If you manage to do that. We will move towards working on skipping a few weekends before having that drink. If possible, I would like to lower it down to having drinks on celebrations only. Are you hopeful? Do you think you can manage that?
M. Hernandez: I do not intend to continue putting my family through hell. I want to do everything possible to stop taking alcohol. So yes, I am hopeful and committed to this decision I make today.
Me: Good. I will be with you every step of the way. We will be adjusting this approach in case anything comes up until we get you on track.
Summary and Reflection
From the audit, the client scored a total of 9 which stands for at-risk use. This means that he is at risk of becoming a harmful user. If no intervention is taken, the client may easily become an addict who may even end up dying as a result of alcohol use.
I was comfortable taking on the role of a social worker. I felt like such a client needs the help of a professional considering the level of unknown risk they may be facing. However, I had no complete confidence over the assessment tools as I felt that the client was lying just to make his situation appear usual and manageable. Most patients feel uneasy especially when it comes to disclosing such private information. They do not want to be viewed as addicts or to be blamed for their family problems. Therefore, I did not have complete confidence in the tools.
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