Bob Aronson

Archive for the ‘Alcohol’ Category

Are You an Alcoholic? Here’s the Test

In Alcohol on March 16, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Bob Aronson:

If you find that alcohol may be a problem in your life and your drinking habits are causing problems with and for other people you may have an alcohol problem. If you have ever wondered if you were an alcoholic you can get a very private answer here. We don’t track who takes the test so take it in the privacy of your home and if the results are negative, do something about it. You have control if you are willing to take it.
This blog was first published several years ago. I have updated it and published it again because of the demand for answers to the question, “Am I an alcoholic and how do I find out?”

Originally posted on Bob's NewHeart:

By Bob Aronson

devil cartoonAlcohol, Drugs and Tobacco can have deadly effects on your organs and constitute one of the leading contributors to the need for organ transplantation.  I have long contended that while organ donation is important we just aren’t making enough headway under the current system.  Too many people are dying because of the organ shortage.  One way of reducing the organ shortage is to diminish the demand.   Healthier living could help achieve that goal. Look at this listing of the short and long term effects of alcohol.

Depending on how much is taken and the physical condition of the individual, alcohol can cause:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Distorted vision and hearing
  • Impaired judgment
  • Decreased perception and coordination
  • Unconsciousness
  • Anemia (loss of red blood cells)
  • Coma
  • Blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence)

Long-term…

View original 1,086 more words

My Alcoholism — Avoid it, Live Longer. A True Story.

In Alcohol on February 1, 2013 at 7:39 PM

While I have written a considerable amount about alcohol and drug addiction (search this blog site and you’ll find several posts on addiction and chemical dependency)  I have written very little about my experience with them.  I chose not to write about myself because it is too easy to sound overly dramatic or like a Carrie Nation reformer and I am not anti-alcohol. We have it in our home, wine, beer and I think there’s some rum somewhere, too.

I am one of the fortunate drunks.  I went into treatment on July 17, 1982 and have not had any alcohol since but it’s been a battle.  I had a heart transplant in 2007.  There’s no way of telling if my alcoholism contributed to my heart problems but it sure is possible.  Here is some of my story.

Being an alcoholic or any kind of addict is to live a life of dishonesty, insincerity and betrayal.   My comments here apply to my alcoholism so that’s the addiction upon which I will concentrate but, all addictions bear similar traits.  The addict will let nothing get between him and his bottle.  He will betray anyone including his spouse and children to satisfy the insane craving for alcohol.  The more you drink the more you will lie, cheat and steal to satisfy your body’s demands.  The drug steals all of your will power, your self-control and your self-respect and makes you its slave.   It is like your body is holding a gun to your brain saying, “Do what I say or I will kill both of us.”  

The very first step In the 12 step Alcoholics Anonymous program is, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.”   Powerless and unmanageable aptly describe an addiction like alcoholism.  Powerless and unmanageable two words that when finally adopted and spoken out loud can set you free but oh how long it takes to get there.

Everything written here (except those words I identify as coming from someone else or from another source) is true and based on my real life experience as a practicing SOB drunk.  Pay close attention because this could be you or someone you know.

I always drank too much.  Even before I was old enough to drink if my teen friends and I could get some beer, wine or anything else I never knew when to quit. I drank until I passed out. I could not drink one beer, one glass of wine or one martini. As the saying goes, “One is too many and a thousand is not enough.”  I know from experience that the worse your habit becomes the more aware you are that you are addicted and it eats at your conscience like battery acid on bare skin.  I cannot begin to describe the psychological torture the addict experiences. 

The guilt gnaws away at your self- esteem causing  emotional pain that goes beyond intense…there’s not a word to describe it and that pain forces you to drink even more in order to assuage the  hell your life has become.  No one…absolutely no one would choose to live like this.   Your life becomes totally unmanageable and you have no control on where the desire for alcohol will lead you.  To those of you who say, “Just quit…you made the choice to drink, you can make the choice to stop.”  Oh how I wish that was true. 

Yes, I made the choice to drink and that was the end of my ability to make sound choices about anything.  No amount of will power or determination can end this nonsensical sickness.  It takes an organized approach and a lot of people to end the insanity and slowly help you get back on the road to respectability.  Having lived this life…and believe me when I say I have spared you the really gory details, I know without a doubt that this God awful affliction is a disease as surely as cancer is one and if you think for a minute that you can just stop the cycle yourself, you are living in a fantasy world.  Read on, maybe, just maybe you will learn something.  

Addiction is horrible.  It is beyond description because no one in their right mind would choose to live that way.  You will lie, cheat, steal and betray your best friends, family and employer if any of them gets in the way of your bond with your bottle (whether it’s full of pills, heroin or booze). And….you will do it with righteous indignation because you will really believe there is nothing wrong with you but that everyone is against you.  None of what you do will weigh on your conscience until you sober up and that’s when your conscience goes to work on you like a slave master with a whip.  There are no welts or sores on your body as a result of the whipping, they are on your soul and they never go away. Finally, you can’t handle the guilt any longer and you seek out your best friend that wonderful container that sports a label saying, ”90 proof. Drink in moderation” 

 A drunk is a drunk is a drunk.  The stereotype is the bewhiskered, dirty guy sitting in the doorway of an abandoned building holding a brown paper bag with the tip of a bottle just visible over the top of the paper. He probably smells bad, hasn’t eaten a solid meal in days and has slept in his own vomit  and sometimes his own excrement (I’m using a man as an example but alcoholism and narcotics addiction are no respecter of gender).

I was a drunk for a very long time and never knew anyone like the person I just described.  To be truthful I used that image to prove to myself that I was not a drunk.  I wore an expensive suit every day, had a new car, a nice home and a great job. People liked and respected me and I was what most would call successful.  To look at me no one would ever suspect I had any problems never mind an uncontrollable addiction and a mean streak a mile wide.

Here’s what my admiring friends and associates didn’t see.  They didn’t see me after hours where I would purposely pick a fight with my wife so I could leave in a huff to buy booze.  They didn’t see me return home a while later after having consumed a pint of 90 proof vodka, stumbling into the house, cursing, pushing people out of the way to get to my basement hideaway where I would drink the rest of the evening, fall asleep in the chair and often awaken in my own vomit.  Sometimes I awakened on the bathroom floor, not knowing how I got there or even whose bathroom I was in.

People didn’t see me when the alarm went off and I had to get ready to go to work so sick I prayed I would die.  A hangover, you see, is nothing more than heavy duty withdrawal.  You know that there’s a very long and sharp knife buried in your skull and you know it has gone all the way through and someone keeps twisting it.

Your stomach is on fire and you keep vomiting but there’s nothing left to vomit….not even stomach acid..   The pores of your skin smell of whatever beverage you were drinking and your clothes (that you slept in) are wrinkled, dirty and stink.  At some point in the night you had urinated but without the benefit of being in a bathroom.  And yet despite feeling as though you had been hit by a bus and contracted food poisoning at the same time, responsibility calls.  You have to go to work and there’s only one way to feel human again you take what my dad (also an alcoholic) called a “Bump.”  A long hard gulp of 90 proof booze right out of the bottle.  In most cases it was an almost instantaneous fix.  I could go from looking like a tribe of vampires had been sucking the blood from my body for a week to a resembling respectable businessman within minutes.  That doesn’t mean I felt good or that my mind was clear…it only meant that alcohol was working to delay the inevitable hangover.

All it took to make me presentable and give me the ability to appear normal was a shower, a shave, a good haircut, a starched white shirt, a tie with some red in it, a freshly pressed suit, shined shoes and some mouthwash and I was in charge again.  Little did anyone know that the double wide briefcase I carried was not because I was so conscientious I took home heavy workloads.  No…I carried that briefcase because it would hold a quart size bottle.  The bottle, when finally drained of its last drop of poison would be quietly and secretly placed in someone else’ waste basket far from my office.  You can’t leave any evidence around you know.  Better to make someone else look like a drunk than expose yourself.

Being a drunk takes a certain amount of planning but sometimes making a good plan while in an alcoholic fog is impossible.  A plan is necessary so you don’t run out of booze.  I didn’t hang out at bars much, I drank at home for the most part but it wouldn’t make any difference.  Neither bars nor liquor stores are open 24/7/365.  You always had to be sure you had enough alcohol to take you through the night and the weekend.  I don’t know about other states but in Minnesota you could not buy booze on Sunday.  I would have to make sure I had enough on Saturday to carry me through.  Sometimes, though, I miscalculated and ran out.  That’s when you attack the cooking sherry and even mouthwash. 

If you are as addicted as I was you know where all the liquor stores are; their hours and exactly where your choice of poison is in the store so you can walk right to it.. It was not unusual for me to be waiting at a liquor store for someone to show up tp sell me a bottle. You also make sure you don’t go to the same store too often…can’t have them thinking you are an alcoholic now, can you? 

You might read all of this and say, “With all of those shenanigans you must have known you were a drunk.”  Well, kind of.  I knew I drank too much but I was functioning, I was working, I was producing, I was getting paid and no one was confronting me about my drinking so I made the assumption that everything was fine. 

Somehow drunks attract drunks.  I didn’t think my drinking habits were strange because the guys I hung out with drank as much as I did.  Here’s an example.  Back in the 70’s when I was a Press Secretary, there was a very nice restaurant on University Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota called the Blue Horse.  We would go there for lunch often and here’s what we had; a double extra dry (meaning forget the vermouth) vodka martini on the rocks with two olives (gotta get your veggies you know) before lunch; a bottle of wine with lunch and a double Drambuie up in a snifter after lunch.  Now, when everyone you know and like drinks like that why would you think you had a serious drinking problem?

I am convinced that every alcoholic, no matter how heavy the denial, knows somewhere in the deep dark recesses of their mind that they have a very serious problem. Because of that haunting knowledge we get very good at hiding or disguising our problem.  For most of the time that I was an active alcoholic I was working as an on-air personality in radio and TV or as the Press Secretary and Director of Communications for a Minnesota Governor. Because no one ever approached me about my drinking  my warped logic suggested that I could continue to drink while on the job so I always had a bottle or two in my desk or briefcase.. 

While on the air I would struggle mightily to make sure I pronounced every word correctly, had the right inflection and didn’t slur any words.  Doing that took incredible concentration and commitment. 

While working on the air I was always the morning drive time guy (that’s prime time in radio).  I would hide my bottle at the bottom of the men’s room waste basket and cover it with paper towels.  When I needed a drink I would just head to the men’s room and being as I was the morning guy, there were very few others working.  My shift was 5 AM to 9 AM and by 9 AM my bottle was usually empty.

The men’s room wastebasket was just one hiding place.  I had many others…a sandpit a few blocks from my house, a secret panel in the basement wall, a spot over the furnace, a junk drawer in the garage and my trusty briefcase with the combination lock.

In this post I have described some of my behavior while alcoholism controlled my mind and body, I have not gone into detail about most of it and I made that decision for two reasons.  One is I can’t remember a great deal of what I did, and the other is that even after all these years what I can remember is still too painful to relate to anyone.  The guilt I bear and the pain I caused is barely manageable.  I fear to think what I might do should I dwell on any of it.  You’ll have to take my word for it that my behavior was not what you would expect from a normal human being. 

This blog is about real life addiction.  If you want more clinical information there are lots of resources like this one.. http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/info2/a/aa022697.htm

I believe addiction is a disease, as does the American Medical Association and several other Medical groups. In a 1992 JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article, the Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) published this definition for alcoholism:

“Alcoholism is a primary chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, mostly denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic.”

If you do not believe it is a disease this post probably won’t convince you otherwise and that’s your choice.  I write about what I believe in and if people disagree they can say so in the space provided or start their own blog. 

If you are worried about your drinking habits or about someone else’ drinking habits I found this simple statement to be quite revealing, “If alcohol (or drugs) are causing you problems, you have an alcohol or drug problem.”  The same goes for food, gambling, sex or any other addictive behavior. 

If you are addicted you drink or use for effect, you can’t get the desired effect by having a drink an hour.  Furthermore, the kind of alcohol really doesn’t make any difference.  I preferred vodka and I have no idea why but I drank for effect so I bought cheap booze and drank right out of the bottle. Gulps, not sips.  That marvelous burning sensation as the alcohol went down your throat into your stomach was motivating because you knew that soon the pain would be gone and you could go back to being totally irresponsible and hate all of your tormenters (like wife, family, friends, co-workers…anyone at all).  By the time the alcohol hit your stomach, you were drunk and happy again as long as no one interfered with your drinking.  The wonderful, warm feeling was quickly replaced by every emotion a human can feel and in no precise order.  You hate, you love, you laugh and cry all at the same time all with no reason and none of it is real. You can go from insane laughter one minute to unheard of violence the next and think nothing of it.

A Russian national (they are known for their love of Vodka and their high rate of alcoholism) once told my wife that Vodka was a necessity.  “The first bottle,” he said, “Must be Absolut” After that who cares.”

It is rare that anyone who is addicted uses their substance of choice to get high, they use it to try to find a release or some respite from the misery they are feeling.  Most often people use to try to feel normal.  It has been said that your first drunk or narcotics hit is your first and last high.  The rest of your time as an addict is trying to get to that same place and you rarely if ever do.  Worse yet, it takes more and more of whatever you are using to have any effect at all. 

Alcohol destroys your organs.  Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly but it will destroy your organs and that means it will destroy you.  The problem is that alcohol can destroy your life but let you go on living so that you wish you were dead.  I prayed for death many times.

I’ve told this story in hopes that maybe one or two people will read it and get the help they need so that they don’t become a number on the list of people waiting for organ transplants.  If you know someone who needs help here is a list of resources for you to get more information. 

Want to take a test to see if you are an alcoholic?  You can do it privately at home and only you will know the results. 

The Michigan Alcoholism Screening test can be found, taken and scored here.  http://counsellingresource.com/lib/quizzes/drug-testing/alcohol-mast/

If you take the test and determine that you  need help a good starting point is the Substance Abuse and  Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Government (SAMHSA)  http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/links/

One of the most disturbing effects of alcohol abuse in particular is that it can result in fetal alcohol syndrome, permanently scarring children and can range from increased aggressiveness to a lifetime of brain damage.   http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Real-World-Health-Effects-Of-Drug-Abuse—Overview&id=486086

 

Alcoholism and withdrawal from it can be deadly.  According to WikiPedia 

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delirium_tremens) five percent of acute alcohol withdrawal cases progress to delirium tremens. Unlike the withdrawal syndrome associated with opiate addiction (generally), delirium tremens (and alcohol withdrawal in general) can be fatal. Mortality can be up to 35% if untreated; if treated early, death rates range from 5-15%.

 

If you want more comprehensive information visit the following sites.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) http://www.drugabuse.gov/NIDAHome.html, The Partnership for a Drug Free America (www.drugfree.org/) or your local treatment center.

 

The Women’s Heart Foundation has something to say as well:  http://www.womensheartfoundation.org/content/HeartDisease/alcohol_and_heart_disease.asp

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 2,500 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on http://www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.

If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to http://www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show; it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to bob@baronson.org and usually you will get a copy the same day.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

 

What Alcohol Can Do to Your Liver

In Alcohol on June 16, 2011 at 7:12 AM

Bob Aronson, the author of this blog, is a recovering alcoholic (since 1982), a former smoker and a 2007 heart transplant recipient.  He wrote this blog about two years ago  but because of  hundreds of  inquiries about how alcohol affects the liver he is re-posting it.

I think it is important to point out here that while I am a recovering alcoholic I am not anti-alcohol.  There are, though, some instances where abstinence is absolutely necessary.  Such is the case with liver disease.

According to the American Liver Foundation (ALF), (http://www.liverfoundation.org/education/info/alcohol/)

the liver breaks down alcohol so it can be eliminated from your body. If you consume more alcohol than the liver can process, the resulting imbalance can injure the liver by interfering with its normal breakdown of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

The ALF says there are three kinds of liver disease related to alcohol consumption:

Fatty liver is marked by a build-up of fat cells in the liver. Usually there are no symptoms, although the liver may be enlarged and you may experience discomfort in your upper abdomen. Fatty liver occurs in almost all people who drink heavily. The condition will improve after you stop drinking.

Alcoholic hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Up to 35 percent of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and tenderness, fever and jaundice. In its mild form, alcoholic hepatitis can last for years and will cause progressive liver damage. The damage may be reversible if you stop drinking. In its severe form, the disease may occur suddenly, after binge drinking, and it can quickly lead to life-threatening complications.  In some cases a liver transplant is the only life-saving option.

Alcoholic cirrhosis is the most serious type of alcohol-induced liver disease. Cirrhosis refers to the replacement of normal liver tissue with scar tissue. Between 10 and 20 percent of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, usually after 10 or more years of drinking. Symptoms of cirrhosis are similar to those of alcoholic hepatitis. The damage from cirrhosis is not reversible, and it is a life-threatening disease. Your condition may stabilize if you stop drinking.

Many heavy drinkers will progress from fatty liver to alcoholic hepatitis and finally to alcoholic cirrhosis, though the progression may vary from patient to patient. The risk of developing cirrhosis is particularly high for people who drink heavily and have another chronic liver disease such as viral hepatitis C.

The ALF makes it very clear that if you have any liver disease you must stop drinking, period!   “Your doctor may suggest changes in your diet and certain vitamin supplements to help your liver recover from the alcohol-related damage. Medications may be needed to manage the complications caused by your liver damage. In advanced cases of alcoholic cirrhosis, the only treatment option may be a liver transplant. However, active alcoholics will usually not qualify as suitable organ recipients.”

Once people become aware of the dangers alcohol poses to the liver, the first question they ask is, “Can I drink at all?  Is there a safe level of drinking?”  Here’s ALF’s response:

“For most people, moderate drinking will not lead to alcohol-induced liver disease. Moderate drinking means no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. (A standard drink is one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine or one 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits.) However, for people with chronic liver disease, especially alcohol-induced liver disease, even small amounts of alcohol can make the liver disease worse. Patients with alcohol-induced liver disease and those with cirrhosis from any cause should stop using alcohol completely.

Women are more likely to be affected by alcohol-induced liver disease because women can be affected by smaller amounts of alcohol than men.”

Finally The American Liver Foundation says:  “Serious complications from alcohol-induced liver disease typically occur after many years of heavy drinking. Once they do occur, the complications can be serious and life-threatening. They may include:

  • Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen
  • Bleeding from veins in the esophagus
  • Enlarged spleen
  • High blood pressure in the liver
  • Changes in mental function, and coma
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver cancer”

The basic philosophy behind this blog is to advance organ donation but because there is such an organ shortage it is important, too, to protect our organs.  Steps can be taken to avoid needing an organ transplant.  Moderation of alcohol consumption is one of them.

Please view our two brand new video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on You
Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifyRsh4qKF4  This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for it’s use.

Another important video is “A Transplant for Nurse Lori” this brave woman has Multiple Sclerosis and needs help paying her share of the bill for a procedure that can halt the disease in its tracks and even reverse some of it.  Watch the video at http://www.OrganTI.org.

Also…there  is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues.

We would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater  our clout with decision makers.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or  positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Are You an Alcoholic? Here’s the Test

In Alcohol on March 16, 2010 at 1:24 PM

By Bob Aronson

devil cartoonAlcohol, Drugs and Tobacco can have deadly effects on your organs and constitute one of the leading contributors to the need for organ transplantation.  I have long contended that while organ donation is important we just aren’t making enough headway under the current system.  Too many people are dying because of the organ shortage.  One way of reducing the organ shortage is to diminish the demand.   Healthier living could help achieve that goal. Look at this listing of the short and long term effects of alcohol.

Depending on how much is taken and the physical condition of the individual, alcohol can cause:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Headaches
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Distorted vision and hearing
  • Impaired judgment
  • Decreased perception and coordination
  • Unconsciousness
  • Anemia (loss of red blood cells)
  • Coma
  • Blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence)

Long-term effects of alcohol

Binge drinking and continued alcohol use in large amounts are associated with many health problems, including:

 

  • Unintentional injuries such as car crash, falls, burns, drowning
  • Intentional injuries such as firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence
  • Increased on-the-job injuries and loss of productivity
  • Increased family problems, broken relationships
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • High blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Sexual problems
  • Permanent damage to the brain
  • Vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to a disorder characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation
  • Ulcers
  • Gastritis (inflammation of stomach walls)
  • Malnutrition
  • Cancer of the mouth and throat
  • More info available at http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/alcohol/short-term-long-term-effects.html

I am a recovering alcoholic (since 1982) and know first hand how Alcohol another drunk cartoonprobably caused me to need a heart transplant and cigarettes left me with serious Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD).   Since I began Blogging in November of 2007, I have published six posts on alcohol’s deadly effects on internal organs.  They are Alcohol and Drugs – Cunning, Mysterious, Deadly; Alcohol May Have Ruined My Heart, How Much Do You Drink; Think Outside the Bottle; Should Alcoholics Get Liver Transplants and How Alcohol Can Kill Your Liver and You. 

These posts have generated numerous responses and questions.  The most common question, though, is, “How can I tell if I am an alcoholic?  A simple answer  is, “If Alcohol is causing problems you  have an alcohol problem!” 

The “Gold Standard” of the treatment industry is the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST).  The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence at  http://www.ncadd-sfv.org/downloads/mast_test.pdf  is a great resource  if you want more information.   I have copied the test and printed it below.  You can take it in the privacy of your home and grade yourself according to the instructions which follow the test.

In order for the results to be accurate your answers must be absolutely truthful, you do no good by lying to yourself so BE HONEST!  I hope you find this information helpful.  

If you take the test and determine that you  need help a good starting point is the Substance Abuse and  Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Government (SAMHSA)  http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/links/

 MICHIGAN ALCOHOLISM SCREENING TEST (MAST)

 

Please check one response for each item.

 

1. Do you feel you are a normal drinker? (“normal” – drink as much or less than most other

Yes

No

2. Have you ever awakened the morning after some drinking the night before and found that you could not remember a part of the evening?

Yes

No

3. Does any near relative or close friend ever worry or complain about your drinking?

Yes

No

4. Can you stop drinking without difficulty after one or two drinks?

Yes

No

5. Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?

Yes

No

6. Have you ever attended a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Yes

No

7. Have you ever gotten into physical fights when drinking?

Yes

No

8. Has drinking ever created problems between you and a near relative or close friend?

Yes

No

9. Has any family member or close friend gone to anyone for help about your drinking?

Yes

No

10. Have you ever lost friends because of your drinking?

Yes

No

11. Have you ever gotten into trouble at work because of drinking?

Yes

No

12. Have you ever lost a job because of drinking?

Yes

No

13. Have you ever neglected your obligations, your family, or your work for two or more days in a row because you were drinking?

Yes

No

14. Do you drink before noon fairly often?

Yes

No

15. Have you ever been told you have liver trouble such as cirrhosis?

Yes

No

16. After heavy drinking have you ever had delirium tremens (D.T.’s), severe shaking, visual or auditory (hearing) hallucinations?

Yes

No

17. Have you ever gone to anyone for help about your drinking?

Yes

No

18. Have you ever been hospitalized because of drinking?

Yes

No

19. Has your drinking ever resulted in your being hospitalized in a psychiatric ward?

Yes

No

20. Have you ever gone to any doctor, social worker, clergyman or mental health clinic for help with any emotional problem in which drinking was part of the problem?

Yes

No

21. Have you been arrested more than once for driving while under the influence of alcohol?

Yes

No

22. Have you ever been arrested, even for a few hours, because of other behavior while drinking?

Yes

No

About Scoring this Alcoholism Test Questionnaire

This quiz is scored by allocating 1 point to each ‘yes’ answer — except for questions 1 and 4, where 1 point is allocated for each ‘no’ answer — and totaling the responses.

So in other words, please score one point if you answered the following:

1) No

2) Yes

3) Yes

4) No

5-22) Yes

(Note that this is the current revised version of the MAST; the original MAST included 25 questions and used a more complex scoring method.)

Your Alcoholism Test Score

0-2 = No Apparent Problem

3-5 = Early or Middle Problem Drinker

6+ = Problem Drinker

Please comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org.  And – spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors.  On-line registration can be done at www.donatelife.net  Whenever you can, help people formally register.  There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance.  If you convince one person to be a donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives.  Some of those lives may be people you know and love.  

You are also invited to join Facebook’s Organ Transplantation Initiative (OTI) a 3,400 member  group dedicated to providing help and information to donors, donor families, transplant patients and families, caregivers and all other interested parties.  Your participation is important if we are to influence decision makers to support efforts to increase organ donation and support organ regeneration, replacement and research efforts. 

 bob minus Jay full shotBob Aronson is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder and primary author of the blogs on this site and the founder of Facebook’s over 3,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative group.

Now retired and living in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife Robin he spends his time advocating for patients with end stage diseases and for organ recipients.  He is also active in helping his wife with her art business at art festivals and on her Rockin Robin Prints site on Etsy. 

Bob is a former journalist, Governor’s Communication Director and international communications consultant.

 

Should Alcoholics Get Liver Transplants?

In Alcohol on March 1, 2009 at 2:46 PM

This is a “think piece.”  I’m hoping this blog will challenge your thinking and cause you to comment.  I am taking no position on this issue, I am simply asking some very important questions.

 

Heavy drinking or alcoholism can severely damage our organs and the liver seems to be the most susceptible to such damage.  So – if you were to ask the average person if alcoholics should be eligible for liver transplants the answer would likely be a resounding, “NO!”

 

As with most things in life, though, nothing is that simple.  If transplant eligibility depended on us living healthy lifestyles then there would be no organ shortage because few people would qualify for the life-saving procedure.

 

According to a study, published in the April 25th edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine, led by Mathew J. Reeves who is the lead researcher and epidemiologist at Michigan State University, only 3% of Americans lead a healthy lifestyle.   Reeves says a healthy lifestyle that includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise and a diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables lessens the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.  http://www.qualityeldercare.com/healthy.html

 

Back to the question on heavy drinking and liver transplants.  Just what is heavy drinking?  You may be surprised to learn that population-based surveys indicate that 68 percent of adult Americans drink at least one alcoholic beverage per month. About 10 percent consume more than two drinks per day, which is a commonly used definition of “heavy drinking”.  Two drinks a day! http://www.enotalone.com/article/11240.html

Let’s ask the question again, “Should alcoholics or heavy drinkers be eligible for liver transplants?”  Well, I am an alcoholic and had a heart transplant eighteen months ago.  It Is likely that my alcoholism contributed to the disease that destroyed my original heart.  I quit drinking in 1982 and have had no relapses but I am an alcoholic and always will be.  Should I have been denied a transplant?

Should the obese person suffering from diabetes be denied treatment?  Driving too fast is one of the top killers of American men, should the person with a speeding record be denied a transplant because they are likely to kill themselves?  What about people who have anorexia, bulimia and other lifestyles that could be considered self destructive?  Should prisoners be denied transplants even though they might someday be released?  I fear that once we go down this road it is unlikely we would treat or transplant anyone. 

I am not trying to justify transplanting livers into practicing alcoholics, but if you accept the American Medical Association (AMA) position that alcoholism is a disease, should the patient be punished because of it?  Do we punish cancer patients because they have cancer?  There is a school of thought based on limited research that suggests a liver-transplant recipient was statistically more likely to reject a new liver than to destroy it from continued drinking.  The fact is that most transplant programs around the world require at least six months of alcohol abstinence before they will consider a transplant.  But if two drinks a day is heavy drinking, the average person may be only a few drinks a week away from being a member of that group. 

I began by saying that this is a “think piece.”  I wrote it because I want to hear from you.  Where do we draw the line on who is and who is not eligible for a transplant?  The medical community has some solid guidelines, for example cocaine use in most cases will automatically eliminate a person from being considered for a transplant.  The public however, as was evidenced in the Mickey Mantle case, may not agree with the medical professionals.  What do you think?  Being as there is a shortage of organs and thousands die each year because of it, should we more severely limit who is eligible for a transplant?   

Please comment here or email your comments to me at bob@baronson.org. 

 

Please read and comment on my World Wide Issues blogs on http://blogsbybob.wordpress.com.   Also…visit and join my Facebook site, Organ Transplant Patients, Friends and You at  http://tinyurl.com/225cfh  OR — my Facebook home page  http://www.facebook.com/home.php

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