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1. Dear Dr. Wes: What type of short and long term effects do alcohol poisoning victims have?

Alcohol, if used in excess, has well known effects on short term memory. The concept of a "black out" are derived from alcohol's use on short term memory. Chronic use of alcohol on long term memory is significant. In most sever form Korsikoff's psychosis, the effected individual can only recall items from long term memory without any ability to form new memories.

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2. Dear Dr. Wes: Why is it so common for the lighter you are to not able to hold your liquor?

Because alcohol is metabolized by your liver. Your liver is proportion to your size.

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3. Dear Dr. Wes: What is BAC?

Blood Alcohol Content.

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4. Dear Dr. Wes: What are three main reasons not to drink and drive?

Your life, your future, and the lives of others.

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4. Dear Dr. Wes: I NEED HELP .. MY FRIEND IS REALLY HEAVILY INTO DRINKING ESPECIALLY BINGE DRINKING AND I WANTED TO KNOW IF THERE WAS ANYTHING YOU COULD DO TO HELP ME? RECENTLY THEY HAVE PUT NOT ONLY THEIR LIVES IN DANGER BUT OTHER PEOPLES, THEY GOT "WASTED" AND FELL IN THE CANAL WHAT SHOULD I DO!?!

SIGNED VERY WORRIED GIRL

Dear Worried: Yes. AA would be a good idea for your pal. For you, alanon would be a great idea. Both are listed in the yellow pages. Please attend.

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6. Dear Dr. Wes: I GO ON BINGE DRINKING AT THE WEEKENDS AND I'M FINDING THAT AT THE WEEKENDS IT IS HARD TO STOP MYSELF FROM GETTING INTO A DRUKEN STATE.MY FREINDS HAVE TRIED TO WARN ME AND I DO TRY AND STOP BUT U HAVE TO BELEIVE ME THAT IT'S HARD. CAN U GIVE ME ANY HELP?

FROM A DEPRESSED UNDERAGE DRINKER!!

Dear Depressed: Yes, I would suggest you consider Ala-teen. You will learn many things about your drinking pattern and how well you are doing in your response.

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7. Dear Dr. Wes: What is alcohol poisoning? And what are the possible short term and long term effects of alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning occurs when you ingest too much alcohol too quickly leading to toxic effects. Some people who have a genetic variation in their metabolism that leads to adverse reactions when drinking refer to that as alcohol poisoning incorrectly.

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8. Dear Dr. Wes: Besides being illegal, why is alcohol so much worse for underage drinkers than people who are over 21?

The primary issue is that it is illegal.  However, the other issue is that lack of experience with drinking often leads to binge drinking with the associated consequences.

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9. Dear Dr. Wes: How do you know if you need treatment for alcohol and/or other drugs? I was ordered for the court to go for substance abuse counseling and I went at first, but I felt I didn't need it and so now I don't go.

Well, a first hint would be a treatment professional recommended it. As in your case, rarely does the client in question think they need treatment (denial).

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10. Dear Dr. Wes: Hi! I am wondering if it is bad to drink if you are taking an anti-depressant. I am underage and haven't been drinking in a while, but when I do it seems to have a really bad effect on me. I just get really sick and the alcohol seems to get me really messed up, even when I don't drink that much.

Depends on the anti-depressant, but a general rule, is only minimal drinking is without consequences while on anti-depressants.

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11. Dear Dr. Wes: How can I tell if I am an alcoholic? I am 36 years old. I was a binge drinker since high school, but quit 2 years ago because it was having negative consequences on my life. I went with a friend to AA for a little while, but don't feel the need to attend frequently. I have learned so much about myself and don't think I have to drink to have fun. I just wonder if I am truly an alcoholic or not. It would be nice to be able to have a glass of wine with my wife on special occasions.

Difficult question to answer. First, let me say that addressing drinking in the earlier stage ie during binging the much better is the prognosis. As to whether you can drink socially or not is not easily answered, that depends on you. However, what if it leads to alcohol abuse?

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12. Dear Dr. Wes: Just out of curiosity, what are some basic facts about ecstasy? I have been hearing a lot about it lately and am not sure what is true and what isn't. For example, is it true that if you take ecstasy while you are pregnant that it will kill the baby?

Ecstasy is a stimulant drug with mild hallucinogenic properties. It is one of a handful of drugs known as "club drugs." Like any stimulant drug, it is addictive. Yes, any stimulant drug can abort a fetus.

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13. Dear Dr. Wes: Why do you think that alcohol often leads to use and abuse of other drugs?

No clear answer is backed with sound scientific data, but most believe that the process of self medicating is what leads to other drug use.

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14. Dear Dr. Wes: How high can a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) get before they risk dying from alcohol poisoning?

Depends on body size, sex, and other drugs in system, but .3 is a serious level.

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15. Dear Dr. Wes: I've heard that you destroy cells when you drink. Specifically what kind of cells do you destroy and how? And can they be repaired?

Liver cells. They can repair for a while, but after the liver goes through this process over and over eventually the liver cells are replaced with scar tissue and thus no longer are repaired. This is what we call cirrhosis of the liver.

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16. Dear Dr. Wes: Is drinking ALWAYS bad for you, or can it be good sometimes? I've heard drinking can help your heart. Is this true?

1-2 drinks of red wine per day are, in fact, protective to the heart. No benefit has been found in any other form of alcoholic beverage.

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17. Dear Dr. Wes: Can drinking at a young age stunt your growth or affect you for the rest of your life? Does alcohol affect development during puberty?

Yes. Excessive drinking prevents the formation of the sex steroids which are required for growth and maturation.

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18. Dear Dr. Wes: What are some of the factors that influence the metabolism of alcohol?

Very good question. There are many things the influence the metabolism of alcohol. Most pronounces are the interactions with medications. Any medication, prescribed or over-the-counter, that is metabolized by the liver effect metabolism. Most all medications are metabolized in the liver by a set of enzymes. Accordingly, the by products of alcohol and medication are competing for the same site in the liver for the metabolism. So, depending on the amount and type of medications, the alcohol level may rise until the liver enzymes can catch up.

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19. Dear Dr. Wes: What is the best way to handle someone you love who parties all the time and chooses drugs and alcohol over you. Mind you, this person has mentally hurt me for life by the things he says when hes messed up.

The best thing for you to do is attend Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a community based 12 step program for individuals who are in relationships with those suffering with alcohol and drug problems. There is no simple short answer to your question, but I can assure you that you will learn an immense amount of information if you would attend Al-Anon.

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20. Dear Dr. Wes: What happens to your liver if you drink too much? If it stops working right, can you die?

Yes. Alcohol damages the liver progressively. The damage can lead to liver failure. Liver failure leads to death.

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21. Dear Dr. Wes:  Does alcohol permanently damage one's brain?

In excess, alcohol can cause permanent damage to your brain. Both dementia and psychosis can be the result of excessive alcohol.

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22. Dear Dr. Wes: I am doing research on the consequences associated with college students and alcohol. I would like to know if you could give some information on this topic.

Check out this web site – I know you’ll find valuable information there:
http://www.health.org/pubs/prevpipe/janfeb98/index.htm

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23. Dear Dr. Wes: I am doing a report on the effects of alcohol. I was wondering if you could tell me what the long and short term effects are of drinking alcohol.

See the Prevention Pipeline web site above – you’ll find good information here as well. Good Luck!

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24. Dear Dr. Wes: Why do hangovers occur after drinking? What has an impact on their severity?

The precise cause of the "hangover" is debated among professionals in the field of addictions medicine. However, most agree that it is caused by a combination of the dehydration associated with drinking and the metabolic by-products of alcohol.

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25. Dear Dr. Wes: Why do people like to drink? Do you think people should or shouldn't drink alcohol?

The reason that people drink is as varied as with most any social behavior. Social drinking or drinking associated with a good meal is an age-old experience. I do not believe there is a should or shouldn't answer to this question.

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26. Dear Dr. Wes: If it's so bad, and so addictive, Why is alcohol legalized? When was it legalized?

Excellent question!! It was legalized at the end of prohibition in the early part of this century. The argument at the time for legalizing alcohol consumption was as follows: People will drink whether it is legal or not. At the time "bootleggers" were making a mint of money selling alcohol on the black market. Organized Crime played a key role in the manufacturing and distribution of "illegal alcohol." It was believed that if regulated and taxed heavily then society would use it modestly. Do notice however, that this is the same arguments some make to justify the decriminalization of other drugs.

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27. Dear Dr. Wes: I have a question, on how is it best to explain how drinking can ruin your whole life. How would you? So I was wondering If you know of any sites that I can get some facts about drinking from?

http://alcoholism.miningco.com is one site to try, but be sure and check out some of those listed in our Helpful Sites section - there's lots of information there!

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28. Dear Dr. Wes: I am doing research on the consequences associated with college students and alcohol. I would like to know if you could give some information on this topic.

Wow, a bit too broad. Sounds like you need to do some research. In General, however, the single most significant issue for college age students is "binge drinking." While most students do not think of binging as a problem, it is in fact a serious issue on campuses across America. What most don't realize is that you can actually kill yourself by drinking too much. It happens every year.

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29. Dear Dr. Wes:  Is hard liquor more dangerous than beer? Does it make you more drunk, give a worse hangover or otherwise worse than if I drink just beer?

No. While one form is stronger per unit of liquid, the alcohol is the same in both. The point is how much you drink and of what.

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30. Dear Dr. Wes: What’s the deal with how long pot is traceable in your blood? I heard weeks!

Because marijuana is stored in your fat tissue it can be detected up to 12weeks after use.

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31. Dear Dr. Wes: I am beginning to wonder if I have a drinking problem. I don’t drink very often, but when I do, I usually drink enough to get really wasted. But I never miss work or school because of drinking. Am I worried over nothing?

See Question #1(binge drinking). Yes, you should be concerned.

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32. Dear Dr. Wes: Can you get high off hairspray?

Yeah, but think of how sticky your snot is gonna be... hee hee

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33. Dear Dr. Wes: What could happen if someone who is drinking and on medication at the same time?

Depends on what medication you are talking about

Most antibiotics, but not all, do not really have much interaction with  alcohol

On the other hand, if you are taking medications for depression, manic-depression, or anxiety.. that's a completely different story.  Both compete for many of the same receptors in your brain. So, in effect combining alcohol and these kinds of medications maximizes the effect and the potential for toxicity is much greater.

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34. Dear Dr. Wes: Does alcohol have protein in it?

No, there is no protein in alcohol.

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35. Dear Dr. Wes: Does alcohol permanently damage one's brain?

In excess, alcohol can cause permanent damage to your brain.  Both dementia and psychosis can be the result of excessive alcohol.

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36. Dear Dr. Wes: My work does random drug testing. I don't really do drugs, but I do drink and take speed once in a while on the weekend. How long does that stay detectable in my system? And does the alcohol make a difference?

Signed, Just wondering

Dear Wondering: Well, this is one of the questions I get asked most frequently. Unfortunately, the answer is not simple. "Speed" usually is metabolized within 48 hours and therefore your urine would be clean 24 hours after. However, the types of drug tests used by employers vary widely in terms of sensitivity. Frequently, people ask "If I was in a room with someone smoking "pot," would my urine drug screen turn up dirty?" Again, the answer would depend on the sensitivity of the test used by your employer. More often than not, individuals are actually using drugs more frequently than they want to admit. Random drug testing is designed to deter employees from occasional or more frequent illicit drug use. Dodging the drug test is not the issue.

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37. Dear Dr. Wes: My boyfriend is 28 and drinks a lot when we go out - like a twelve pack -but he never gets hungover, and never misses work or anything. Do you think he is doing any permanent damage? He's always been able to drink like that.

Signed, Worried Wendy

Dear Wendy: Binge drinking or drinking only on the weekends has been proven to evolve into a more substantial issue in a certain percentage of drinkers. More importantly, DUI's and other consequences of drinking are associated as frequently with binge drinker as the continuous drinker when evaluated over period of time.

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38. Dear Dr. Wes: I have recently noticed that my tolerance for alcohol seems higher. I can drink a whole bottle of wine over 2-3 hours and feel perfectly sober. What is up with that? Do I just think I'm sober, or can I really be able to handle more than I used to?

Signed, Wine Lover

Dear Wine Lover: Yes, tolerance is the hallmark feature of a drinking problem in development. Your body attempts to tolerate the amount of alcohol you drink. The more you drink the more your body attempts to handle the volume. However, your liver will have to work overtime. That is why the first organ to be damaged with drinking is your liver.

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39. Dear Dr. Wes: Recently, 2 of my friends told me that they think I have a drinking problem. They said they are only trying to help, but they are way off base! I just drink to unwind a little and they are making it a really big deal. I'm afraid they are going around telling everyone they think I have a problem! How can I prove to them that my drinking is totally under control?

Signed, NOT a lush

Dear Not: What do you mean under control? Under whose control and for what? Friends raising their concerns is one of the first signals that you may in fact have a problem. The best way to address the issue is to consider the possibility that a problem is beginning. The sooner you address it the better your chances of overcoming the problem. The goal is to get the answer best for you. Not being right in the debate. Here's something you might try: Decide what, for you, is a reasonable amount of alcohol to consume. This is an internal "discussion" you have with yourself, and it doesn't matter what the amount is - a six pack a day, no more than 3 drinks per evening, or drinking only twice a month. What ever you think is reasonable for you. Now, monitor yourself. Are you staying within the limit you set for yourself? If you aren't, that should tell that you are not in control of your drinking, and should contemplate getting help.

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