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Some Sobering Tips From Betty's Team

March 03, 1997|DUANE NORIYUKI

Topics ranging from the nature of alcohol and drug addiction to intervention, treatment, prevention and relapse are explored in "The Betty Ford Center Book of Answers" (Pocket Books).

The book grew from a question-and-answer newspaper column called "Sober Days" in the Palm Springs Desert Sun. Responding to readers' questions is Dr. James West, former medical director at the center, where he now serves as vice chairman of the board of directors and physician director of outpatient services.

The following are excerpts:

Question: I am 46 and have been an alcoholic for many years. I have been told that I have about 12 months left to live with AIDS. My doctor asked me to quit drinking. If I am dying anyway, what difference does it make? I do not care if my time left is shortened or not. The doctor said it was my decision. What would you say?

Answer: Even if you really knew how much time you had left, you owe it to yourself to try for the best quality of life possible for you, and that means not drinking alcohol.

Q: I am a recovering alcoholic and have been dry for 22 years. My wife died five weeks ago and my physician, who does not know my alcoholism history, prescribed a tranquilizer called diazepam for my insomnia and my depression. Am I safe taking these?

A: No, you are not safe taking diazepam or other drugs like it. . . . The sedative effects of the tranquilizer could reactivate your long-arrested alcoholism.

Q: Is there a connection between breast cancer and alcohol?

A: There seems to be. A recent statistical analysis of a number of studies . . . suggests that breast cancer rates tend to increase proportionately with increasing exposure to alcohol.

Q: My husband has been in AA and dry for 6 1/2 years. Lately he has started to drink so-called nonalcoholic beer with dinner and occasionally at other times. I've told him that I'm concerned about this, but he insists that there is so little alcohol in this beer that it is safe for him. Your opinion?

A: There are no published data on the relationship between drinking these beverages and relapse. I agree with most recovering alcoholics I've talked with that drinking them is a compromise that may put sobriety at risk.

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