Category Archives: alcohol and drugs

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


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.

 

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How Alcohol Can Wreck Your Body


(This report is from the U.K.  You will notice that it refers to “units.”  That’s the same as a about a half of one “shot” of alcohol in the U.S.)  http://tinyurl.com/948cvhs

From heart to liver and brain to kidneys, a night on the tiles makes demands on us that we don’t fully realise. Peta Bee reports

6pm One Unit: It’s been a long day…

BRAIN: From the first sip, alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and reaches the brain. Although you won’t be aware of it, there is an impairment of brain function, which deteriorates further the more you drink. Cognitive abilities that are acquired later in life, such as conduct and behaviour, are the first to go. Early on you will experience mild euphoria and loss of inhibition, as alcohol impairs regions of the brain controlling behaviour and emotion. Most vulnerable are the brain cells associated with memory, attention, sleep and coordination. Sheer lack of mass means that people who weigh less become intoxicated more quickly, and women will feel the effects faster than men. This is also because their bodies have lower levels of water.

HEART: Your pulse quickens after just one unit. Alcohol is a vasodilator – it makes the peripheral blood vessels relax to allow more blood to flow through the skin and tissues, which results in a drop in blood pressure. In order to maintain sufficient blood flow to the organs, the heart rate increases. Your breathing rate may also speed up.

8pm Five Units: Whose round is it then?

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: The Government advises men to drink no more than three to four units a day and women no more than two to three, so after two pints of normal-strength beer (four units) or a large glass of red wine (3.5 units) we have already exceeded our healthy guidelines. The alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and small intestine and if you are not used to it, even small amounts of alcohol can irritate the stomach lining. This volume of alcohol also begins to block absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.

SKIN: Alcohol increases bloodflow to the skin, making you feel warm and look flushed. It also dehydrates, increasing the appearance of fine lines. According to Dr Nicholas Perricone, a dermatologist, even five units will lead to an unhealthy appearance for days.

11pm 10 Units: Sorry, what was your name again?

LUNGS: A small amount of alcohol speeds up the breathing rate. But at this level of intoxication, the stimulating effects of alcohol are replaced by an anaesthetic effect that acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. The heart rate lowers, as does blood pressure and respiration rates, possibly to risky levels – in extreme cases the effect could be fatal. During exhalation, the lungs excrete about 5 per cent of the alcohol you have consumed – it is this effect that forms the basis for the breathalyser test.

1am 15 Units: Let me tell you about my ex…

LIVER: Alcohol is metabolised in the liver and excessive alcohol use can lead to acute and chronic liver disease. As the liver breaks down alcohol, by-products such as acetaldehyde are formed, some of which are more toxic to the body than alcohol itself. It is these that can eventually attack the liver and cause cirrhosis. A heavy night of drinking upsets both the delicate balance of enzymes in the liver and fat metabolism. Over time, this can lead to the development of fatty globules that cause the organ to swell. It is generally accepted that drinking more than seven units (men) and five units (women) a day will raise the risk of liver cirrhosis.

3am 20 Units: Where am I? I need to lie down

HEART: More than 35 units a week, or a large number in one sitting, can cause ‘holiday heart syndrome’. This is atrial fibrillation – a rapid, irregular heartbeat that happens when the heart’s upper chambers contract too quickly. As a result, the heartbeat is less effective at pumping blood from the heart, and blood may pool and form clots. These can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Atrial fibrillation gives a person nearly a fivefold increased risk of stroke. The effect is temporary, provided heavy drinking is stopped.

BLOOD: By this stage, alcohol has been carried to all parts of the body, including the brain, where it dissolves into the water inside cells. The effect of alcohol on the body is similar to that of an anaesthetic – by this stage, inhibitions are lost and feelings of aggression will surge.

The morning after: Can you please just shut up…

BRAIN: Alcohol dehydrates virtually every part of the body, and is also a neurotoxin that causes brain cells to become damaged and swell. This causes the hangover and, combined with low blood-sugar levels, can leave you feeling awful. Cognitive abilities such as concentration, coordination and memory may be affected for several days.

DIGESTION: Generally, it takes as many hours as the number of drinks you have consumed to burn up all the alcohol. Feelings of nausea result from dehydration, which also causes your thumping headache.

KIDNEYS: Alcohol promotes the making of urine in excess of the volume you have drunk and this can cause dehydration unless extra fluid is taken. Alcohol causes no damage or harm to the kidneys in the short term, but your kidneys will be working hard.

One year on: Where did it all go wrong?

REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS: Heavy drinking causes a drop in testosterone levels in men, and causes testicular shrinkage and impotence. In females, menstrual cycles can be disrupted and fertility is affected. Studies have shown that women who drink up to five units of alcohol a week are twice as likely to conceive as those who drink 10 or more. It is thought it may affect the ability of the fertilised egg to implant.

BRAIN: Over time, alcohol can cause permanent damage to the connection between nerve cells. As it is a depressant, alcohol can trigger episodes of depression, anxiety and lethargy.

HEART: Small amounts of alcohol (no more than a unit a day) can protect the heart, but heavy drinking leads to chronic high blood pressure and other heart irregularities.

BLOOD: Alcohol kills the oxygen-carrying red blood cells, which can lead to anaemia.

CANCER: Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increase in the risk of most cancers. Last week, Cancer Research UK warned how growing alcohol use is causing a steep rise in mouth cancer cases.

PANCREAS: Just a few weeks of heavy drinking can result in painful inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis. It results in a swollen abdominal area and can cause nausea and vomiting.

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.

Addiction — A Journey Into Hell


If you are suffering from organ failure and you are an addict you can be eligible for an organ transplant but you have to be clean and sober first and  most transplant centers require at least six months of sobriety before they will consider you.

Yesterday I posted a blog “My Last Drunk..” about the time 30 years ago I checked myself into treatment for alcoholism.  It was not a particularly outrageous story but it was significant  to me because it was my very last drunk.

I write a lot about addiction because it is one of the primary killers of human organs and because this group is dedicated to ending the organ shortage I’m hoping that stories about addiction and recovery will  help those suffering from the disease find their way into a recovery program.  If we can do that the demand for organs will decrease and those who remain on the list will have a better chance of getting a transplant.

I realize that there are many who refuse to believe that addiction is a disease and many who think addicts even if they are in recovery should not be eligible for transplants because of what they did to themselves.  And I will be the first to admit that addicts do the damage to themselves but it’s not on purpose, it is not because they choose to destroy their organs, their families and their careers.  Who would be crazy enough to do that?  The life of an addict is pure hell and readers will just have to believe me when I say, “No one would choose to live like that, no one!”

When you are an addict you are totally out of control and you don’t set out to harm anyone including yourself but the power of the disease is so great it is irresistible.  When the demand for your drug of choice invades your body you must respond to it no matter who gets hurt along the way. You will lie, cheat, steal and in some cases even physically harm anyone who gets between you and, in my case, my bottle.

Being an addict also means you spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how to feed your habit.  With alcohol money is not as much a problem as with illegal or prescription drugs.  Alcohol is easy to get and relatively cheap but you still must plan.  In most places you can’t buy a bottle of booze on a Sunday so you have to make sure that you have enough booze on Saturday to take you through Monday.  Then in many cases, especially if you have a family you don’t want to know about your addiction, you have to have a place to hide your drug of choice.  I had a secret panel in the wall of our finished basement, a cubby hole In the garage, a special place in a sand pit near my home where I could hide and then dig up my bottle, inside an old tire in the garage and the bottom of the waste basket under used paper towels in the men’s room at my place of employment.

If illegal drugs are your problem then money becomes a huge issue and you will either steal it or con your best friends or family out of it by manipulating them in any one of a number of ways.  No lie is too outrageous for the addict and in many cases no action is too outrageous.  That’s how powerful the addiction is.  You will literally sell your soul to get what you need and the worst part of it is that you can’t even really get high anymore, you use to try to feel normal but all you really get is sicker and sicker both mentally and physically until either you are hospitalized, treated or die.

Addiction will overwhelm your sense of ethics, pride, morals, self-worth and will to live.  I remember having a conversation with myself once in which I said, “Bob you have to stop drinking, you are killing yourself!”  My response without thinking and without pause was, “I don’t care.”  That’s the power of the drug.

When I drank I sometimes consumed up to two quarts of vodka a day.  I was a big man 6’4” and 250 lbs.  I could hold a lot and miraculously I functioned.  I got up every day, put on a suit threw a quart of vodka in my oversized briefcase and went to work.  I drank my way through four years as a Governor’s press secretary and appeared to many if not most to be sober, I almost never was.

In the four years I anchored Morning Edition on the Minnesota Public Radio Network I rarely drew a sober breath yet I interviewed people, had impeccable timing, read news and performed all the other duties an on-air person can do. Sometimes I struggled mightily to keep from slurring words and to walk straight but I was able to fool most  of the people, most of the time.

But it all catches  up with you and at some point you find yourself in places and with people you would not normally associate with.  It is as though the rest of the world can’t see you.  All the while you know it is wrong but you just keep sinking deeper and deeper into the bottomless pit of despair and the more you realize how you have degenerated the more you use your drug of choice to help you forget what you have become.

Addiction is a horrible disease and as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog it cannot be overcome with will power it takes help, a lot of help from a lot of people and then it takes superhuman effort and the help of those same people and even more to stay sober.

One of the toughest parts of recovery is following the Alcoholics Anonymous step that dictates that you make amends to those you have harmed.  It means you must apologize and it also means your apology may not be accepted and you have to learn to live with that.  It’s part of the soul and conscience cleansing process and it is difficult but necessary.

Recovery from addiction is on-going.  You are never recovered because one drink, just one, will send you right back into that deadly spiral into the depths of living hell.  As the expression goes, “One drink is too many and a thousand is not enough.”

I’ll close with this. If you are an addict, there is hope and there is help. It isn’t easy and it isn’t quick but it can work and you can live a normal life again but you cannot do it alone.  You need help.  You can start by calling your local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous or any accredited treatment center. In most cases insurance will cover treatment.  If you are uninsured there is still help available through AA and NA.  It is only a phone call away. You just have to take it one day at a time, sometimes, it is one moment at a time but it is always moving forward, sober!

f you are an addict, think you might be or know someone who needs help here are some resources. 

http://nationalsubstanceabuseindex.org/

http://www.addictionresourceguide.com/resources.html

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment/resources

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.

My Last Drunk The Beginning of a New Life.


My name is Bob Aronson.  I went to work every day wearing a suit.  I had been a popular radio and TV personality in another market, Press Secretary to a Minnesota Governor and was now the first Anchor for Morning Edition on the Minnesota Public Radio Network headquartered in Minnesota’s twin cities.  I was a major market radio host and newsman and that’s no small feat.  For all intents and purposes I was a respected member of society.  I had one small problem; I was also an uncontrollable drunk.   Following is but one day in the life of an alcoholic.

I’m telling this story because alcoholism and addiction is one of the greatest destroyers of human organs.  My long term addiction to alcohol and cigarettes (I quit smoking in 1991) quite likely contributed to my need for the heart transplant I received in August of 2007. 

Addiction is horrible, it is a terrible existence and the addict is powerless to stop it without help.  The craving for the drug, whatever it is, is stronger than any force you will ever encounter.  It overpowers reason, common sense, logic and even the love of family.  It destroys your moral code, your sense of ethics and even your hygiene.  You begin to live your life for the drug.  It is your best friend.   

Those of you without an addiction will have trouble understanding this and I’ve heard many of you say, “Just use some will power!”  O God if it were that easy.  I remember an addiction counselor telling a group  once, “Using will power to conquer addiction will get the same result as trying to use will power to control diarrhea.”  She was so right.

Following is but one slice of a long life of alcoholism.  It is the day, 30 years ago, that I stopped drinking.  This not the worst story I could tell, those aren’t even fit to print, but rather this is the  most significant because it marked the beginning of my sobriety.

I  should point out, too, that once a drunk always a drunk its just that some of us drunks are sober.

On July 17 of 1982 I awakened early in the morning with a splitting headache and nausea.  I stumbled through the bedroom covered in my own vomit to make it to the bathroom. Kneeling on the floor before the toilet I retched over and over again but there was nothing left in my stomach.  Its contents were on and around my bed and my t-shirt and underwear. 

When the retching stopped I stripped and stepped into a cold shower that felt like a million icy pinpricks.  I thought I smelled sauerkraut in the house but none was cooking, the odor was me.  I stunk.  I scrubbed my body as hard as I could but not having eaten in several days my strength was at a minimum and taking a shower was wearing me out.  You see, I wasn’t just suffering plain old flu, mine was a special flu that I brought on myself…it came out of a bottle marked Vodka 80 proof.  This was the granddaddy of all hangovers.

Freshly showered and shaved I descended the staircase to the first floor of our home to find it empty.  A terse note on the kitchen table told me my wife had gone to see some friends.   “So what” I thought.  “I’d rather be alone anyway.” 

Descending yet another set of stairs I found my way to the basement where behind the paneled walls I had built a secret compartment that housed my best friend, a quart bottle of 80 proof cheap vodka.  You see, when you are a drunk you drink for effect not for taste so why waste money when after a couple of swallows you can’t taste anything anyway. 

I removed the bottle from its cobwebbed hiding place, cracked the seal, removed the cap and put the opening to my lips.  As the clear liquid burned its way down my throat, I felt rescued.  The effect was almost immediate, I felt good again and didn’t give a damn about anyone but me.  Another couple of quick slugs and I was even better but by the time I got to the top of the basement stairs the alcohol hit me harder than ever before.  Because I hadn’t eaten in days and was not getting rest my resistance was down and I was drunk immediately.  

 In my addled brain I thought, “Another drink will fix this,” so I made my way back to the basement, recovered the bottle and literally crawled up the stairs into the kitchen where I fell into a kitchen chair uncapped the bottle and took another long slug.  In the few brief moments I had been awake I had already consumed a half quart of vodka. 

My mind was mush but somehow I remembered the night before, when we were to entertain my boss and his wife for dinner.  My wife had never met them so she was a little anxious.  I told her not to worry and busied myself with preparing our outdoor barbecue dinner.  Our garage was detached from the house so while I was out messing with the grill, I made a few trips into the garage for a rendezvous with another hidden bottle.  About 45 minutes before our guests were to arrive I had quite a buzz going but found a way to sneak another long swallow after which I told my wife I was going to lie down until the company came. 

Flashback now to my opening sentence because that’s the next thing I remember after lying down.  I went upstairs and passed out.  My poor wife was left to entertain people she had never met and, I was told later, made up the excuse that I had gotten very sick and had to go to bed.  She entertained them for the evening while I slept the sleep only a drunk can know. 

As I sat at the kitchen table, the realization of what must have happened made me realize how low I had sunk and I polished off the quart of vodka to somehow assuage my guilt.  Here I was with my head the table, drunk again, remorseful and needing another drink but my stash was gone.  I had no more and knew I could not drive — hell, I could hardly walk.

Reluctantly I picked up the phone and dialed my brother.  I told him I needed help because I thought I was an alcoholic.  He drove me to a treatment center and that’s when my life began anew.  

I need to pause here for a moment to offer thanks to some people who gave me a much needed break Bill Kling, founder and President of Minnesota Public Radio,  Sally Pope Kling his wife, Rick Lewis, who then was the VP of News at MPR and John Merli, the News Director..  They not only allowed me time to recover but to come back to MPR and continue to work.  Thanks Bill, Sally, Rick and John.  And…of course my brother Terry who took  me to treatment.  All of you will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

Within a year I started my own communications consulting business which I am still practicing. 

If you are an addict, think you might be or know someone who needs help here are some resources. 

http://nationalsubstanceabuseindex.org/

http://www.addictionresourceguide.com/resources.html

http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment/resources

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. 

Alcohol and Drugs The Organ and Child Killers


Alcoholism and drug abuse have haunted my family for years.  I’ve been in recovery for just about 30 years but I’m not alone in my family.  Anonymity disallows further disclosure but trust me, I know about addiction first hand and even as I write this another family member is suffering and causing suffering.  I hate the disease with every fiber in my body and I know how hard it is to fight it.

Alcohol is a drug. It is no different than heroin or cocaine or Dilaudid or Oxycontin.  They are all addictive drugs and they ruin lives and kill people.  Those are facts.  Here’s another fact.  There is an alcohol and drug abuse epidemic among young people in America today.

Here is some shocking information from the National Center On Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.  And if you are not shocked you should be.  http://www.casacolumbia.org/templates/Home.aspx?articleid=287&zoneid=32

  • Half of college students binge drink and or abuse other drugs and almost a quarter meet medical criteria for alcohol or drug dependence.
  •  Prescription drug abuse is the most rapidly increasing drug abuse among teens.
  • Each day more than 13,000 children and teens take their first drink
  • 7 million (26 percent) of public school students age 12-17 say their school is both gang and drug infected.
  • Teens who see their parents drunk are more than twice as likely to get drunk in a month and three times likelier to use marijuana and smoke cigarettes
  • In 2009 more than one third of teens (8.7 million) said they can get prescription drugs to get high within a day and nearly one in five said they could get them in an hour.

Now, you may ask yourself why a blog about organ donation and transplantation is focusing on alcohol.  The answer is simple.  Alcohol can and does destroy human organs.  If Americans could better control their alcohol consumption the number of people who need organ transplants would drop considerably.  Here are just a few of the effects of prolonged alcohol and drug abuse:’

  • The brain —  confusion and memory loss.  Changes in sensation and numbness.
  • Scarring of the liver called cirrhosis which can lead to death.
  • Disease of the pancreas and stomach even stomach cancer
  • Heart irregularities and weakening leading to death (my alcoholism could have contributed to my need for a heart transplant).
  • Upset the body’s natural control of blood fats and blood sugar levels.
  • Bone thinning called osteoporosis
  • Kidney disease

Long-term use of alcohol and drugs in excessive quantities is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body.

Now, back to the epidemic amongst our youth.  Let’s just focus on alcohol.  Underage drinkers account for 11.4 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the U.S., according to Teen Tipplers: America’s Underage Drinking Epidemic, a report released by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

The report found that more than five million high schoolers (31 percent) say they binge drink at least once a month. The gender gap in alcohol consumption that for generations separated girls and boys has disappeared among younger teens: male and female ninth graders are just as likely to drink (40 percent vs. 41 percent) and to binge drink (22 percent vs. 20 percent), the news release said.

But let’s not depend on just once source.  Here’s what the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says about young teens and alcohol and the related risks.

“For young people, alcohol is the drug of choice. In fact, alcohol is used by more young people than tobacco or illicit drugs. Although most children under age 14 have not yet begun to drink, early adolescence is a time of special risk for beginning to experiment with alcohol.

While some parents and guardians may feel relieved that their teen is “only” drinking, it is important to remember that alcohol is a powerful, mood-altering drug. Not only does alcohol affect the mind and body in often unpredictable ways, but teens lack the judgment and coping skills to handle alcohol wisely. As a result:

  • Alcohol-related traffic crashes are a major cause of death among young people. Alcohol use also is linked with teen deaths by drowning, suicide, and homicide.
  • Teens who use alcohol are more likely to be sexually active at earlier ages, to have sexual intercourse more often, and to have unprotected sex than teens who do not drink.
  • Young people who drink are more likely than others to be victims of violent crime, including rape, aggravated assault, and robbery.
  • Teens who drink are more likely to have problems with school work and school conduct.
  • The majority of boys and girls who drink tend to binge (5 or more drinks on an occasion for boys and 4 or more on an occasion for girls) when they drink.
  • A person who begins drinking as a young teen is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than someone who waits until adulthood to use alcohol.

The message is clear: Alcohol use is very risky business for young people. And the longer children delay alcohol use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child avoid any alcohol use.

So you say, “Ok, but what can I do about it. If kids want to drink they’ll find a way.”  And you are right.  But often one of the ways they find to drink is through family members.  Over 70% of eighth graders say alcohol is easy to get and 30% of children age 12-14 get alcohol from a family member.

It’s also wise to use some common sense and remember that as parents you are role models. Your drinking habits are closely observed by your children whether you  think so or not.

There is help and advice from many sectors…SAMSHSA for one (SAMSHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Government.)  http://underagedrinking.samhsa.gov/  Hers’ what they say.

Between the ages of 9 and 13, children start to think differently about alcohol. Many children begin to think underage drinking is OK and some even start to experiment. It’s never too early to talk to your children about alcohol, and encourage them to talk with you.  Over 70% of children say parents are the leading influence in their decision to drink or not.

Lots of little talks are more effective than one “big talk.”

Sitting down for the “big talk” about alcohol can be intimidating for both you and your child. Try using everyday opportunities to talk – in the car, during dinner, or while you and your child are watching TV. Having lots of little talks takes the pressure off trying to get all of the information out in one lengthy discussion, and your child will be less likely to tune you out.

When you do talk about alcohol, make your views and rules clear.

Take the time to discuss your beliefs and opinions about alcohol with your child. Be honest and express a clear, consistent message that underage drinking is unacceptable. When they feel that you’re being real and honest with them, they’ll be more likely to respect your rules about underage drinking.3

Family, peers, school, and the community all play a role in your child’s decision to drink. In fact, most children who use alcohol get it from a friend or family member.1 To ensure these people become positive role models for your child, let them know how you feel about underage drinking.

I have always contended that the best way to solve the organ shortage is to live healthier lives.  That means we have to start at a very early age.  Parents must teach their children about drugs and alcohol as soon and as often as possible.  If we don’t get a handle on this problem every other problem we have in our society will get worse.

Bob Aronson, a 2007 heart transplant recipient is the founder of Facebook’s 1700 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the writer of these donation/transplantation blogs on Bob’s Newheart.  

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 a PowerPoint slide show for your use free and for use 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.

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.

An Expert Explains Addiction as a Disease


While most experts and most medical associations recognize alcohol and drug addiction as a disease many of our readers disagree.  This blog and our Facebook group Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) are focused on helping those who need organ and tissue transplants get them.  That’s our purpose and our mission but many of those who don’t believe in the disease concept of chemical dependency hold strong opinions that if a person is dying of liver, kidney, heart or other organ failures and if that person has a history of alcoholism or chemical dependency they should not be eligible for an organ transplant.  The argument is, “They chose to become an addict and they should suffer the consequences.”  This topic has received more discussion than any other that we have introduced in the nearly four years Bob’s Newheart has been publishing blogs.    We hope this guest blog will help dissenters have a better understanding and perhaps more compassion for those suffering from the disease of addiction. 

Prior to my retirement to get a heart transplant in 2007 I was a private communications consultant specializing in health care issues.  One of the great rewards in my 25 plus years career was getting to meet and interact with some of the leading medical professionals in the world.  One such person, who I am proud to call a friend, is Dr. Marvin Seppala, Chief Medical Officer for the Hazelden foundation in Center City, Minnesota.  Hazelden is one of the leading and largest non-profit addiction treatment centers in the world with several U.S. Locations.  Dr. Marv is not only a highly respected physician he is also a psychiatrist who specializes in helping those who suffer from addictions.  You can read more about him and about Hazelden at http://www.hazelden.org/  

The following blog was written by Dr. Seppala  for the CNN Health website and he has graciously given his permission for us to reprint it here.   Your thoughts and comments are encouraged and welcome.

Bob Aronson

(Bob is the bob of bob’s Newheart and has been in recovery from alcoholism since 1982.  He received a heart transplant in August of 2007)

ADDICTION — THE DISEASE THAT LIES

I learned of four addiction-related deaths this weekend. Three were people I knew in Portland, Oregon, recovery circles and the fourth was Amy Winehouse.

Tragically one must get used to such news if you spend a lot of time with those who have this disease. Whenever someone with addiction dies, I grieve the lost potential and wonder about the limitations of our ability to address this cunning, baffling and powerful disease.

I am also humbled by my own experience with addiction and recovery, and grateful for the help I received.

It seems nearly impossible to believe that people with addiction would continue to use drugs and alcohol to the point of death, but that is what people with addiction do:  They  deny both the consequences and the risks of using. As we continue to learn about addiction, we’re understanding  more about  why addicted people behave the way they do. But that’s little solace for friends and family.

Addiction is a brain disease, and our knowledge of it has expanded significantly, which has informed our treatment programs and altered our perceptions. We know that addiction resides in the limbic system, a subconscious part of our brain that is involved with memory, emotion and reward.

We refer to this area of the brain as the reward center, as it ensures that all rewarding or reinforcing activities, especially those associated with our survival, are prioritized. The reward center makes sure we survive by eating, drinking fluids, having sex (for survival of the species) and maintaining human interactions.

In late stages of addiction we can see how reward-related drives, especially those for survival, are reprioritized when people risk their families, their jobs, even their lives to continue to use drugs and alcohol. The continued use of the drug becomes the most important drive, at a subconscious level and unrecognized by the individual, undermining even life itself.

When a methamphetamine-addicted mother makes the nightly news after neglecting her children for four days while on a meth run, we can’t comprehend how anyone could do such a thing and tend to think she does not love her children. She may have been going out for groceries with the intent to return home and feed her children, but ran into a dealer and started using.

Addiction took over, and she was driven by subconscious forces even though she loves her children as much as I love mine. Her love and her natural instincts to care for and nurture her children were overridden by her own brain, the reward system  reprogrammed to seek and use drugs at all costs. Unbeknownst to her, drug use has become the most important thing in her life.

When we witness the incomprehensible behaviors associated with addiction we need to remember these people have a disease, one that alters their brain and their behaviors. We tend to believe we all have free will, so it is difficult to understand how the addicts’ perception has been so altered as to drive them to destruction.

We also assume they can make their own decisions, especially when it comes to help for their addiction. In so doing we are expecting the person with a diseased brain to accept the unacceptable, that the continued use of drugs is not providing relief from the problem – it is the problem, and they need to stop that which has become paramount.

They are unable to make such decisions because their brains have been altered to prioritize use of the drugs, even above survival itself.

Relief of psychic pain, the real, unimaginable pain of addiction, is part of the problem. People have many reasons for seeking relief from pain; some pain precedes the addiction, but most pain is the result of the addiction.

The addicted neglect their primary relationships and they may lie, cheat and steal to continue drug use. And they know this at some level, they recognize their uncontrolled behaviors, but they can’t change, they can’t stop.

Hopelessness becomes a way of life. Self-loathing, shame and guilt become the norm as the consequences of continued drug use accumulate.

They use drugs to ease the pain, but the very remedy exacerbates the problem. The answer to their dilemma goes unrecognized due to the neurobiological changes that have occurred in their brains.

The good news is that treatment is effective and specifically designed to help people recognize the problem within. Most people are coerced into treatment for one reason or another; they may be facing legal issues, job loss or divorce.

With good treatment their likelihood for recovery and abstinence is just as good as the minority who seek treatment of their own accord. Unfortunately, less than 10% of those with addiction recognize they have it and seek treatment.

This is the primary reason people don’t seek help. Our largest public health problem goes unrecognized by those with the disease.

Every one of these deaths is tragic. They died of a disease that lies to them. Amy Winehouse had incredible musical talent that enthralled the masses, but she became known as much for her struggle with addiction.

We can safely watch such a tragedy, gawking as we drive by the destruction, insulated from the suffering and unable to help. But addiction is all around us and we need to respond to the rising death toll.

All of us are responsible for learning the truth about addiction, raising awareness and intervening for those who have this disease, knowing they are unlikely to be able to do so for themselves.   Dr. Marvin Seppala.

-0-

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 lovePlease 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.

Should Alcoholics Receive Liver Transplants?


 I am posting this topic because of the extreme interest other blogs on the subject have generated.   All I ask is that you not only objectively read the material, but also click on the referrences and read them, too.  Your comments are are not only invited, but encouraged.  Addiction is a deadly and cunning disease that can strike any person at any time with no respect for race, religion, social status, gender or age.  No one makes a conscious decision to become an addict, it just happens.  Yes, some bad choices are made that can lead you there, but chances are very good that you were born one and activation of the disease only needs the right trigger. 

This is a “think piece.”  I’m hoping this blog will challenge your thinking and cause you to comment.  Please open your minds and consider the total picture not just a narrow view of people involved in substance abuse.  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 25, 2009 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 on August 21, 2007.  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 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 http://www.donatelife.net/index.php  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 50 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 group of well over 3,000 members that is 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. 

How Alcohol Can Kill Your Liver — And You


The response to my blog; Should Alcoholics Get Liver Transplants, was overwhelming.  I’ve been posting for a little over a year and no other blog has generated a response as heavy as this one.  Because so many people were interested in the effect of alcohol on the liver, I decided to offer a brief expansion of the topic.

 

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.

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.

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.

My Battle With Oxycontin


Author’s note.  This is the first time I have written a blog and posted it on both of my blogsites.  I did so because this topic is like an iceberg, most of the scope of the problem lies hidden under fathoms of lies, deception and incredible suffering by patients, families and friends.  For more information on addiction generally log in to my favorite treatment center in Minnesota, www.hazelden.org

 

 

When writing blogs I always make an attempt to personalize them often I cannot.  For example, I have written three blogs on how drugs and alcohol may have a negative effect on human organs.  I wrote them because I am a recovering alcoholic (July 17, 1982) and may have ruined my heart due to extremely heavy drinking (up to two quarts of vodka a day).  This destructive behavior may have led to the dilated cardiomyopathy I suffered and the subsequent heart transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida on August 21, 2007.

 

Today’s blog will in some way I hope, help others who are substance abusers or are concerned about family members and/or friends who may be.  This missive will only address abuse of prescription medication but let me be perfectly clear.  I am not opposed to drug use made necessary by a medical condition or to social drinking.  My purpose is to offer some information that might help people know when they have crossed the line from “need” to “want,” admit it to someone else and seek and accept help.

 

Just a bit of background.  When the medical team positions a patient on the table for a transplant, they place your left arm above you and at an awkward and unnatural angle.  Many patients suffer some post operative, but temporary discomfort (that’s what the docs call it, I call it screaming pain).

 

So here’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  Since my transplant, I’ve experienced “discomfort” in my left arm, pneumonia in both lungs, torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders and carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists.  After trying several different painkillers, only Oxycontin offered me some relief.  I knew when Oxycontin was prescribed for the intense pain I was suffering that I was at risk, but all other pain relievers had failed and, believe me, the pain was almost unbearable.  There were times when it was so bad I screamed and cried and even then, I fought the urge to take yet another Oxycontin.  In the end, though, the Oxycontin won.  While the pain had ended, the physical need only got stronger.  I knew almost immediately that I had become dependant on Oxycontin.  As Roseanne, Roseanna Danna used to say on Saturday night live, “It’s always something.”

 

I’ve experienced “cold turkey detox” several times in the past and while not as wild as Frank Sinatra’s scene in “The Man With The Golden Arm” It is not far off the mark.  Nausea, diarrhea, hot and cold flashes, heavy perspiration, hallucinations well, the list of symptoms is quite long.  I was not looking forward to doing it again but I knew I had to get “off the Oxycontin.”

 

I did some on-line research and called some friends for advice and recommendations.  Many of them gave me the same name – a clinic in Jacksonville, Florida that specialized in pain medicine, detox and related issues.  I saw a Doctor there Thursday, and began my Suboxone outpatient treatment yesterday.  As of this moment, I am at over 48 hours Oxycontin free, feeling very good and show none of the symptoms of detox I had experienced so many times in the past.  I am well aware that Suboxone can create problems as well as solve some, but with the help of my AA and NA friends the physicians at my clinic and my wonderful wife Robin, I will recover from this as I did from Alcohol.  You see if I don’t recover from it, I will most certainly die from it and there is no greater disrespect I can show my donor family than to let Oxycontin run, ruin and end my life. 

 

So if you are hooked on prescription painkillers you must do three things, 1) admit that the substance has taken control of your life, 2) Tell someone close to you about your “problem.” and 3) seek and find help, accept it and follow the program. For information on 12 step programs see  http://www.alcoholicsanonymous.com/ or http://www.na.org/index.htm.

Most family physicians are not qualified or licensed to prescribe some of the drugs (like Suboxone) that can help you.  Only a specialist can truly offer the right kind of help and monitoring.  They are not easy to find.  Some may want you to go through treatment; others will help you on an outpatient basis.  That decision can only be made by you and your doctor.

 

The Clinic I use is: NEXSTEP INTEGRATED PAIN CARE, INC.  904-288-8311, their website address is http://www.nexsteppain.com/  they might be of direct help if you are in or near Jacksonville.  If you are in a more distant city, they might be able to direct you to experts in your area.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have not been compensated, nor will I be compensated by NEXSTEP or anyone else.  My blogs are for public usage and not copyright protected and I accept no compensation or consideration of any kind for any of the blogs I write.

 

This has not been an easy trip but it certainly has opened my eyes once again as to my character flaws and strengths. Thank you to my friends, family and my wonderful wife Robin for your unfaltering support.  And — readers, if you are so inclined put in a word for me when you talk to “him.”

 

Please read and comment on my World Wide Issues  blogs on http://blogsbybob.wordpress.com.   Also…visit 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

 

 

 

 

Think Outside the Bottle


In honesty, I must admit I borrowed the title of this blog from my friend Dr. Marvin Seppala MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction and who is the medical director, CEO of Beyond Addictions in Beaverton, Oregon. Marv is an exceptional human being and one I am proud to know.

Recently I wrote a blog on my addiction to alcohol and other substances and how they may have ruined my heart.  After years of suffering with heart disease and finally being placed on the national transplant list, I was given a new heart on August 21 of 2007.  If there had been no organ available, I would probably be dead by now.  Because I got a new heart I assumed God had a reason for wanting me alive.  I believe that reason is to use what I know to help others — to promote organ donation and sobriety. 

I learned a lot from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) but two things stand out.  One is that confession is good for the soul and for the psyche and the other is that it is my duty to carry the word to others who are suffering.  That’s what the 12th step says.  This blog is meant to accomplish three things.  The first is to carry the word, the second is to promote organ donation and the third is to reduce the number of people on the transplant list by reducing the number of people who need new organs.

Judging from the number of “hits” my blog on substance abuse has had and the number of times it has been reprinted, the subject must be one of great interest.  Well, it should be.  I couldn’t find exact numbers but I’ll bet that a significant number of people on the transplant list, while no longer using, have done great harm to their organs because of substance abuse.  Raising awareness of substance abuse and the fact that treatment works just might help reduce the number of people who need a transplant.  When I say, “Treatment works,” I not only mean formal treatment but also attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings.  I went through treatment a couple of times before it finally stuck in July of 1982.  I have not had a drink since then and my life has changed completely.  Since treatment I developed a highly successful business as a consultant, travelled the world and loved every minute of it.  Most importantly, though, I regained the respect and love of my family.  Had I not quit drinking I would either be dead or in jail.

I cannot speak about any substance abuse other than mine.  I know this, when you are abusing you know you are abusing. When you are abusing you will do things your sense of morality would not normally allow you to do.  When you are abusing you are driven by your bassist instincts.  When you are abusing you don’t eat right, you treat people poorly and you become the person you least admired when you were sober.

My dad, God bless him, was a good man and I loved him.  He worked hard and did his best to provide for his family, but for most of my life, he was a drunk.  He treated his family with disdain and did his best to separate himself from us.  Subsequently I know very little about him.  We never had any kind of a “talk.”  When he drank, he got mean.  I won’t go into detail but my mom, in particular, suffered most of the effect of his meanness.  He hid bottles everywhere, in the rafters of the basement ceiling in cubbyholes in the garage, and in many other places. I swore I would never be like my dad.  I grew up to be almost exactly like him. 

I began drinking seriously at age 15 and didn’t stop for long until I was 43 years old.  I hid bottles everywhere.  I used to have a special briefcase that I always carried.  I bought it because it would not only hold my papers but was big enough to carry a quart of vodka as well.  When I worked mornings as the on-air anchor for a radio network in Minnesota, I would get to work early, hide my bottle in the bottom of the wastebasket in the men’s room and cover it with paper towels.  Whenever I needed a drink I just got up and headed for the bathroom.  Being as I worked from 4 AM to 9 AM there weren’t many people around so I was free to drink as much as I wanted and I did.  I never took a my bottle home with me, it was always empty at the end of my shift.  I’m sorry to say that for most of the time I worked there I was under the influence.  How I did a four-hour on the air program every morning is beyond me.  I only know that I am ashamed of myself for doing that to my employer.

I also was mean.  While not violent I was verbally abusive.  My family suffered and I know it.  Unfortunately, I knew it then, too, but because of the influence of alcohol, I didn’t care.  I would find any excuse to get out of the house at night so I could meet my drinking “friends.”  It turns out that these “friends” disappeared once I sobered up.  My family, for some reason I’ll never understand stood by me.  I will be forever grateful.

During the time I was a practicing alcoholic I drank at least a quart of Vodka a day, sometimes two quarts.  And — often I used both alcohol and drugs.  I have no idea how I functioned and made a living.  Many people told me they never suspected that I drank too much or at all for that matter.

To make a long story short I developed dilated cardiomyopathy and eventually needed a heart transplant.  I am one of the lucky ones who got a new heart and a new life, but not everyone can expect to get an organ.  The shortage far exceeds the number of donors.

I know this is an unusual blog but it does relate to the need for organ donors because so many people would not need organs if they would take care of themselves.  If you drink too much, you know it.  If you abuse drugs, you know it, if your behavior is bad, you know it and you also know you need help.  I’m writing this blog so that if you are abusing alcohol or drugs, you also know you are killing yourself.  You are destroying many of your organs.  You may need a transplant and you may not get one.  There are not enough organs. 

With the help of some wonderful people at a treatment center and years of attending AA meetings, I have remained sober and happy for 26 years.  You can do it too. 

 According to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, “Substance abuse is the nation’s top health problem, causing more deaths, illness and disabilities than any other preventable health problem today.  Additionally the Johnson report indicates that of the more than 2 million deaths each year in the United States, about one in four is due to abuse of alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs. The economic cost of the abuse is estimated at more than $414 billion a year.”   http://www.infoimagination.org/ps/drug_war/articles/substance_abuse.html In

In conclusion, if you are abusing substances you must stop.  You can do it.  There is help!  Sure there is pain and discomfort when you stop your addiction, but consider the pain and discomfort of cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease, alcoholic cardiomyopathy or any one of a number of other diseases.  

If you are the spouse or significant other of someone who is a substance abuser, there is help for you, too.  Alanon is nationwide; there are meetings in every city.  The meetings are held to help you, not the substance abuser. You’ll learn how to cope and how to survive and maintain your dignity.  For more information visit: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/english.html.Or for additional information on substance abuse and treatment visit:   http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/treatment_public_i.aspx 

We are all praying for you whether you are the abuser or someone affected by the abuse.

PEACE

Alcohol May Have Ruined My Heart. Is it Ruining Yours?


Let us start this blog with a fact.  I, Bob Aronson, am an alcoholic.   I was treated for chemical dependency in 1982 and have had no relapses. My drug of choice was Vodka but in lieu of the Russian national drink, anything would do as long as it had alcohol or any other mind-altering substance in it.  I really liked alcohol; it released me from my inhibitions and demons and made me forget.  singing warning

For example – I do not remember the entire Carter Administration.  At the time, I was the communications director for a Minnesota Governor and, they tell me, I worked with and met President Carter on several occasions.  I honestly don’t remember much about those years. My behavior during that time was deplorable.  At least I think so, but I can’t really remember a lot of it. 

As far as my body is concerned, the worst thing about my drinking was that the drug combined with my chain cigarette smoking (I dumped that addiction in 1991) could be partially responsible for developing cardiomyopathy and then needing a heart transplant. 

I still cannot believe that I, a 68-year old man with a history of 3 or more packs a day of cigarette smoking, at least a quart a day of Vodka and currently with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) got a heart transplant.  Most certainly God smiled upon me that day because I did not think I deserved a new heart.  I think of my old behavior often and as a result I promise my donor every day, that I will take very good care of his heart. 

The best part of the story is that while I waited 12 years to get on the transplant list once there it was a mere 13 days before I got a heart.  13 days…that’s unbelievable and that knowledge has changed me in ways I cannot describe.

I know I am extremely lucky; you don’t have to tell me that.  I, too, wonder how I got a heart when so many people on the list have been waiting for years, were younger and sicker than I was too but, on that night in 2007 I was the best match…maybe the only match.    Despite that,  I am still amazed amazed and thankful.  I figured that if God decided to keep me around for a while it must be because there was something he wanted me to do.  I hope promoting organ donation is what he wanted because that is what I have chosen to do and I am committed to giving it my best effort until I can no longer type or think. 

So what’s the point of this blog?  I’m writing it to warn people, especially the young, how dangerous alcohol consumption can be.  And — yes, this is about organ donation and transplantation.  glass with line through it

If you drink too much or use drugs, you are probably going to damage your precious organs.  That means two things.  1) You may not be able to donate your organs and 2) you become more likely to need a transplant. Right now the organ supply is much less than the demand.  One solution to the problem is to make sure we all lead healthier lives.  If we do that we just might have enough organ donors someday (unless the altruistic approach changes and I hope it does).. 

I understand the effects of alcohol.  Drinking can kill you! I know, I was dead a couple of times because of my drinking.   Even if you don’t think you drink much, each beer or drink causes damage to your body. According to a student study at Bryn Mawr College: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f01/web1/chew.html 

“Due to the irritant action of alcohol, high consumption increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, tongues, and esophagus. There is also the risk of liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Heavy drinkers are also at risk for coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.”

And – there’s this from SAMHSA’s (U>S. Dept of Health & human services National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information) web site. http://www.samhsa.gov/

“Though alcohol affects every organ of the body, it’s most dramatic impact is upon the liver.  The liver cells normally prefer fatty acids as fuel, and package excess fatty acids as triglycerides, which they then route to other tissues of the body.  However, when alcohol is present, the liver cells are forced to first metabolize the alcohol, letting the fatty acids accumulate, sometimes in huge amounts.  Alcohol metabolism permanently changes liver cell structure, which impairs the liver’s ability to metabolize fats.  This explains why heavy drinkers tend to develop fatty livers. The liver is able to metabolize about ½ ounce of ethanol per hour,,,,”alcohol risk of 60 cconditions

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

“Most people don’t think of alcohol as a drug…but it is. Alcohol abuse has destroyed more lives, broken apart more families, caused more diseases and contributed to more auto fatalities than any other drug. It is the major contributing factor in the growing epidemic of domestic violence.”  

So perhaps this missive has motivated you to ask questions of yourself (in the dictionary missive is defined as a letter from an official – well, I am an official – an official drunk.  I am a drunk now and always will be.  As long as I remember that I won’t use alcohol or drugs).

Back to the motivation.  Hazelden Foundation, one of the premier chemical dependency treatment centers in the world, is near the twin cities in Minnesota.  They not only treat addictions but they also do a lot of research.  You’ve probably seen Hazelden material.  Their website http://www.hazelden.org/  has a great deal of very useful information.  Browse it and you will see what I mean.  One item in particular is a short test to help you understand what your drinking habits mean.  The test is confidential and you can remain anonymous. http://alcoholscreening.org/AS/index.aspx?CID=86

The following excerpts are from the website below.  I urge you to go to Dr. Dunlap’s site and read all of it – twice!  By:  Michaele P. Dunlap, Psy.D,  Clinical Psychologist. http://www.oregoncounseling.org/ArticlesPapers/Documents/ETOHBIOFx.htm The brain, liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, kidneys, and every other organ and tissue system are infiltrated by alcohol within minutes after it passes into the blood stream. The strength of the drink will have a significant effect on absorption rates, with higher concentrations of alcohol resulting in more rapid absorption.  

BODY SYSTEMS AND EFFECTS

The Liver: hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperuricemia (as in arthritis or gout), fatty liver (which may lead to hepatitis or cirrhosis), and hyperlipemia (build-up of fats sent to the bloodstream; which leads to heart problems).

Central Nervous System: When alcohol acts on the CNS, intoxication occurs, affecting emotional and sensory function, judgment, memory and learning ability. Smell and taste are dulled.

The Bloodcapillaries break, create red eyes in the morning, or the red, blotchy skin seen on the heavy drinker’s face. Blood vessels can also break in the stomach and esophagus leading to hemorrhage, even death.

The Gastrointestinal Tract:: In time, the drinker’s overworked pancreas may stop producing insulin and diabetes can result. Conversely, a person with a family history of diabetes may be more vulnerable to problems with alcohol.

The Muscles: One outcome is cardiomyopathy (sluggish heart) which is common in alcoholics. Another outcome, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), or “holiday heart,” is often treated in emergency wards after several days of party drinking. Muscle aches are a common symptom of excessive-drinking “hangovers.

The Endocrine System: This system controls the body’s hormones and includes the pineal, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands, and the ovaries or testes. Prolonged use of alcohol can cause infertility in both men and women.

Special Concerns of WomenFemale drinkers reach higher blood alcohol levels (BAL’s) faster because of less water and more fat in the body and because of differences in digestive enzymes. Women develop alcohol-related disorders such as brain damage, cirrhosis and cancers at lower levels of drinking than men.

FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME (FAS) and FETAL ALCOHOL EFFECT (FAE): Women who drink during pregnancy risk the development of both mental and physical defects in their children. Effects on the child can include: growth deficiencies; poorly formed bones and organs, heart abnormalities, cleft palate, retarded intellect, delayed motor development, poor coordination, behavior problems, and learning disabilities.”

And so, my blog.  There are a number of comedians who make fun of people with drinking problems, we all laugh and that is just fine.  I sure don’t mind.  But don’t let the laughter mask the problem.  I ruined a good part of my life, did significant damage to my health and to relationships with my family, friends and the people I worked for not to mention those I offended but can’t remember. 

The disease of alcoholism is cunning (the big book) and lethal.  I used to say, “I can quit drinking anytime I want to,” and I would, for maybe two weeks at a time.  Then I would say, “See, I did it” and my car would automatically turn into the parking lot of the nearest liquor store.  All I can say is, please watch your consumption of alcohol.  I don’t preach abstinence I preach caution.  Explore some of the sites I have noted here and learn more about the subject.  Parents especially need to be aware.

 

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 3,000 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 new music video “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs.  This video is free to anyone who wants to use it and no permission is needed. 

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.

En Espanol

Puede comentar en el espacio proporcionado o por correo electrónico sus pensamientos a mí en bob@baronson.org. Y – por favor, difundir la palabra acerca de la necesidad inmediata de más donantes de órganos. No hay nada que puedas hacer lo que es de mayor importancia. Si usted convence a una persona de ser donante de órganos y tejidos puede salvar o afectar positivamente a más de 60 vidas. Algunas de esas vidas pueden ser personas que conoces y amas.

Por favor, consulte nuestro nuevo video musical “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” en https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs YouTube. Este video es libre para cualquier persona que quiera usarlo y no se necesita permiso.

Si quieres correr la voz acerca de la donación de órganos personalmente, tenemos otra presentación de PowerPoint para su uso libre y sin permiso. Sólo tienes que ir a http://www.organti.org y haga clic en “Life Pass It On” en el lado izquierdo de la pantalla y luego sólo tienes que seguir las instrucciones. Esto no es un espectáculo independiente, sino que necesita un presentador pero es profesionalmente producida y sonido hechos. Si usted decide usar el programa le enviaré una copia gratuita de mi libro electrónico, “Cómo obtener un pie” O “que le ayudará con habilidades de presentación. Sólo tiene que escribir a bob@baronson.org y por lo general usted recibirá una copia del mismo día.

Además … hay más información sobre este sitio de blogs sobre otros donación / trasplante temas. Además nos encantaría que te unas a nuestro grupo de Facebook, la Iniciativa de Trasplante de Órganos Cuantos más miembros que obtenemos mayor será nuestra influencia con los tomadores de decisiones.

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