After teaching high school English for 34 years, Ken retired in 2003. A social drinker before retirement, he began drinking heavily to deal with his feelings of boredom and isolation.
“All of a sudden I had all this time and I didn’t have any outlets,” Ken said. “I didn’t develop any new friendships and I became isolated.”
Ken’s drinking progressively got worse and he became a regular heavy drinker. He neglected his health by making poor diet and exercise choices. His drinking even began to affect his short-term memory.
“I lost weight because I wasn’t eating right. I became very weak,” Ken said.
One day while at home, Ken had a seizure in the bathroom and hit his head as he fell to the floor. A friend found him and took him to the hospital. Ken has no memory of the seizure or the head injury.
At the hospital, Ken took a neuropsychological exam to measure his psychological function. The results were not encouraging. As someone who had earned a master’s degree and been a teacher for 34 years, his neuropsychological exam results startled him. He realized what a toll drinking had taken on his memory and comprehension skills.
The hospital staff suggested Ken receive treatment for his substance abuse issues, but Ken resisted.
“I did not want to go to treatment. I was not open to it at all,” he said.
Alarmed by his poor health, the hospital wanted to have Ken committed to treatment. A judge ruled that he was not capable of self-care and ordered him to receive alcohol treatment. Someone in the court suggested Vinland Center.
Although he was reluctant to receive treatment, once he was involved in the residential treatment program at Vinland National Center his attitude began to change.
“My case manager, Tom, made all the difference in the world. He was no-nonsense and would make me redo my work. He was also very kind and caring.”
Ken enjoyed the structure of treatment at Vinland, explaining that therapy was “with me, not at me.”
When Ken arrived at Vinland, he was very weak physically. He was unable to open doors or to get the soap out of soap dispensers. He was using a cane to help him walk.
Ken exercised every day during his stay at Vinland to get his body back in shape. The exercise helped improve his appetite and he began to gain weight. As he slowly got back into shape, his mind followed. By the time he left Vinland, he was no longer using a cane.
After graduating from Vinland Ken returned to his home. He volunteers at a senior citizens’ center near his home where he works one-on-one with the residents and reads and writes for them. He also joined a gym and continues to exercise regularly.
“Before I went to Vinland, I thought because of my age, treatment wouldn’t do much to improve my life. Today I’m excited about life. Vinland offered me hope.”
Please note: Images are stock photos. Former clients provided Vinland with permission to share their stories.