Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Doctors More Dangerous Than Guns?

The other day I received the following attached to one of my emails. I found it both ironic and scary.

According to an article by Nathan Tabor that's been circling in the more conservative corners of the Internet since December of 2004, data compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services points to both the relative safety of guns AND the relative hazardousness of conventional medicine.

According to the numbers:
Some 700,000 physicians in the U.S. cause at least 120,000 deaths each year (it's actually closer to 300,000). That's one accidental death per year for every 5.83 doctors, according to the government. Compare this to...

The 80 million U.S. gun owners collectively contribute to just 1,500 accidental firearms-related deaths every year. That's only one deadly shooting for every 53,300 gunslingers.
That means you're 9,142 times (53,300/5.83) more likely to be accidentally put in an early grave by a physician than a marksman!

Even when you heap in the numbers from all 16,000 homicides in a typical year (a surprising number of these are not committed with guns - and an amazingly low number are committed by legally owned guns), you're STILL more than seven times as likely to be killed by a doctor's mistake than by a gunshot wound from any source, even criminals.

Beyond this, Tabor's article cites survey data suggesting that, based on the number of times firearms were used to deter violent or invasive crimes over a five-year span, guns SAVE as many as 400,000 American lives per year.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Could He Be An Alcoholic?

The other day I was talking with one of my son's friends, a young man in his early thirties. He told me that when he was younger he got involved with drinking alcohol and he really liked it but for the most part he stayed away from drugs. His habit pattern was to go long periods of time without drinking in which he would work very hard to achieve some kind of success and normal lacy in his life. Then for no real reason he would start drinking and he would go off on what he referred to as a binge where he would stay fairly loaded for days at a time. Then he would wake up one morning just plain tired of drinking, feeling very tired, confused and ashamed, wondering what excuse he was going to give his employer. Once back at work he would work very diligently and do all kinds of extra work trying to get back in good graces. Out of feelings of guilt he would become the model husband and father. Having accomplished this in time a restlessness would come over him and along with this restlessness would come the desire to drink again. In the beginning his drinking would be very controlled then before he knew it he would be off on a drinking spree for days again.

He said that this was pretty much the pattern of his drinking for years except the periods between drinking bouts got shorter and shorter. His life was getting messier and messier. He had become unable to hold down a job. His anxiety level was growing. He became increasingly fearful. Driving had become an ordeal. If he drove a long distance he would have to pry his hands from the steering wheel. He stopped reading books because by the time he got to the end of a paragraph he had forgotten what he read. He stopped using coins because he was getting lost counting out change. His tolerance for alcoholic became chaotic. He found himself waking up in the middle of the night to have a beer. He never knew whether it would be the second drink or the tenth that would set him off into a full blown drunk. Worse of all his personality changed the happy go lucky drinker became belligerent and violent.

After some minutes of him being quiet he told me that he really doesn't like the person he sees looking back at him in the mirror.

He told me that years earlier he had gone to counseling. After a few sessions his counselor as him if he ever thought of going to Alcoholics Anonymous. His response was that he didn't need AA he could stop drinking anytime he wanted and has many times. That was the last time he saw this counselor and he even quit drinking completely for six months just to prove to himself that he was not an alcoholic.

He says now he is really worried because suicide is looking very good to him lately. He then asked me what he should do. The only answer that came to mind was the same one his therapist had given him years earlier. “Have you thought of going to A.A.?” I could think of nothing more. What would you have suggested he do?