From the January 1971 magazine.

Your Doctor Can't Help You!

If he doesn't know that you're an alcoholic, if he doesn't know that you react badly to some kinds of medication. . .

AT MEETINGS, I have often heard of poor communication between AAs and their doctors. As both a doctor and a "patient" in AA, I am particularly aware of this problem. I am not speaking here of the drinking alcoholic or the pill collector who tells the doctor he just takes "one or two." The detection of this kind of evasion, even in an actively drinking alcoholic in great distress, can be very difficult. Then how much more difficult it is for a doctor to identify and understand an alcoholic who has been sober for years! Can the alcoholic help out--contribute to his own medical care?

Often, even recovered alcoholics are not able to take the medications that other people can. In 1967, I had an operation; I explained to the anesthetist that I was an alcoholic; but, although he heard me and duly made note of it, he still felt that I was in good condition and could surely take various medications. I was delirious for a day after the operation. In 1969, I had another operation; this time, the same anesthetist really understood the situation: I made sure that he remembered, and I told him some of my story. This time, there was no postoperative trouble at all.

-- Anonymous, MD

Manhattan, New York

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