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How is nicotine addiction treated?
August 2nd, 2011 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question:  If - as you say - “nicotine is just as addictive, more deadly, than cocaine,” where are the centers that treat these nicotine addicts?  Does this mean that chomping on gum and sticking on adhering (nicotine) patches will alleviate the mental and physical distress that accompanies the withdrawal from tobacco?  Answer:  Most inpatient alcohol and other drug treatment centers have a protocol for the treatment of nicotine dependence.  Treatment of nicotine dependence does not require inpatient treatment.  The protocol for dealing with this addiction can be accomplished...

Does depression return?
June 7th, 2011 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question:  I was never depressed until I started drinking heavily. Even after I became sober a year and a half ago, I still felt depressed for a month or so. Is that depression likely to come back? Answer:  It won’t come back if you stay sober. That depression is part of the illness of alcoholism in many people, more frequently women, and more acutely during the withdrawal from alcohol.  There are those unlike you whose depression predated the onset of alcoholism and whom we consider as having two disorders – depression and alcoholism. Both require treatment. However, as with...

Who is an Alcoholic?
March 1st, 2011 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
 Alcoholism assumes many disguises:  it takes the form of the homeless drunk, or it looks like the chairman of the board who, only lately, has been making poor corporate decisions; or it may appear as the occasionally hard-to-find physician.  It can answer the roll call as a formerly brilliant college senior whose gradually poorer performance predicts the premature end to a promising academic career.  It can be the sullen husband whose wife is an expert at covering up an occasional black eye.  It languishes in prison for repeated drunk driving arrests.   There it was in the Old...

Can prayer help an alcoholic stop drinking?
October 15th, 2010 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question:  Do prayers help in trying to get an alcoholic to stop drinking? Answer:  Sometimes, it seems, they are the only things that do.  Hope, and the internal spiritual strengths that respond to prayer, can sustain the person who has to stand by and watch an alcoholic tragedy unfold. I would like you to call the treatment center in your community and make arrangements to get into their family treatment program.  Also, keep praying.

What is help beyond AA?
October 13th, 2010 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question: I have been married to an alcoholic for over forty years. I have watched my husband’s mother die from alcoholism. That was enough for me but it seems it wasn’t for her two sons. My husband goes religiously to AA twice a week here in our city. He doesn’t enjoy going but he goes. He said he does need a sponsor and when he asked for one, he was told that their organization wasn’t large enough to supply one. What I am asking for is a suggestion. We can’t afford for him to go to a private organization for help. Answer: There are some odd features about your...

Why do alcoholics have to ‘hit bottom’?
October 6th, 2010 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question: Is it true that you have to wait for a person to “hit bottom” before you can do anything about it? I know you have to wait until a person who is killing himself with liquor wants to quit. Isn’t there anything that can be done before he wrecks his life as well as those of his three kids and mine? Answer: Yes, there is something that can be done and should be done. First, let me correct some very wrong ideas you have about hitting bottom and his having to want to quit. These are old ideas that have been proven false by the experience of thousands of alcoholics (just...

What is a codependent?
September 28th, 2010 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question:  My wife is in treatment for alcoholism.  I tried to defend some of her bizarre behaviors while she was drinking and now a friend of mine, who himself is a recovering alcoholic, says that I am a codependent.  What is that?  He suggests treatment for me in the family program at the place where she is getting treatment.  I rarely drink at all but I will do anything to help her. Answer:  Family treatment probably would be very helpful for you.  Many spouses of alcoholics are codependent, that is, they may unwittingly contribute to their spouses’ difficulty in recovery...

What are preventive measures for drug and alcohol abuse?
June 24th, 2010 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question: Will you comment on preventive measures about drug and alcohol abuse? Answer: It has been said that “the best prevention is early intervention ”, but by this time it is too late, the person has already started. If the progress of alcoholism can be stopped early in its course, then great individual and family disruption can be avoided. National efforts at prevention of alcoholism include education at all levels, increased publicity and the creative use of media sources. Such efforts have already influenced nicotine addiction in older smokers; although the...

Will my son end up like his father?
June 24th, 2010 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question:  My husband died of alcoholic liver trouble.  Now our son, who is 28, is drinking more and though I have never seen him intoxicated, I am worried that he may be on the same course that his father was. Can you help? Answer:  The following homespun definition of alcoholism may be helpful since it points to the various clues that often indicate the onset of this disease:  Alcoholism is defined as the use of alcohol to the extent that it interferes with one’s home life, work, interpersonal relationships and/or one’s health and its use may be a prerequisite to...

Is alcohol burned off in desserts?
June 24th, 2010 / Counseling / James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S.
Question:  The other evening I attended a banquet at which the dessert was Cherries Jubilee.  I am recovering from alcoholism and even though they say there is no alcohol in a dessert after it is burned off, I think it is too risky to try.  Am I right? Answer:   You are right and you did not miss much anyway.  Any dish like that requires some alcohol, usually brandy, to allow the maitre d’ to accomplish his flourishes and start the fireworks.  After the poof of the blaze and the last little flames go out, there is almost certainly no measurable alcohol left and usually only...

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