Alcoholism question on medical exam

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by Unregistered, May 17, 2012.

  1. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I am wanting to start my private pilot training in early 2013. I was reviewing the medical exam and the question regarding alcoholism and wanting the forums opinion to see if i will have a problem passing. and if so, how to overcome to pursue my dream of being a pilot.

    i considered myself a social drinker. in june of 2010 i lost my job and began to drink more often. (no DUI's, etc) i went in for a regular physical in september 2010 and my liver counts were out of line and my doc recommended i cut back or quit. so i quit completely in early 2011 without any treatment, but i became a friend of bill w. My health is great. passed my annual physical in july of 2011 with flying colors and looking forward to my next in july. Should i expect any problems with the FAA exam?
     
  2. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm going to step out on a limb here and say if it wasn't diagnosed as such, it never happened.
     
  3. Gary F

    Gary F Final Approach

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    I think he is right. As long as your physician did not refer you for specialized treatment it is unlikely that you were given a formal diagnosis. Hopefully Dr. Bruce will give you the real answer.
     
  4. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Congrats on your sobriety. :D
     
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  5. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Not quite. The OP is going to have to report those visits in 2010 if the fall within the preceding three years when s/he takes his/her aviation medical exam, and part of that includes reporting the reason for the visit. Even if the visits are more than three years in the past, there still might be a box to check in Block 18 (which is a "Have you ever?" situation, not just the last three years like health professional visits) based on the liver function issues. How does that play out? Wait for Bruce Chien to come along and answer, probably later this evening.
     
  6. Gary F

    Gary F Final Approach

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    Do you have to report visits for routine health maintenance such as an annual physical as anything other than that? There is a difference between getting general health advice (stop smoking, lose weight, cut down alcohol) and a formal diagnosis of alcohol dependence or a similar diagnosis. I have little doubt that many of us have had a bump in liver enzymes from time to time after imbibing an excess of alcohol.
     
  7. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    It will probably depend on just what the physician put in the OP's records. I'd suggest waiting for Bruce to answer the OP's post on that.
     
  8. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    To get good advice on this, you really need to have had an outside review of the Doc's medical records. It depends entirely on which diagnostic category you were placed. Choose any HIMS AME (in a consultative role, NOT in an application role) for this task.

    However, if your liver functions were clearly out of line, the predominace of the chance is that you had a problem. They will demand to review the record (which you really ought to have reviewed BEFORE any applicaition is made, and likely have a ~$150 master's level Substance Abuse Evaluation according to the FAA format, to get the situation clarified BEFORE any application is made.
     
  9. Unregistered

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    Obviously,the FAA would not have any direct access to the information, but the OP states that he or she is a member of AA. No judgment on the OP intended, but could one honestly check 'No' in the 'Have you ever...' question 18 box for 'alcohol abuse' while participating in AA, regardless of medical diagnosis?
     
  10. Old Geek

    Old Geek Pattern Altitude

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    AA is for people that don't want to drink. You can be the sibling of an alcoholic, a spouse of an alcoholic or you could just be concerned that your socially acceptable drinking might get out of control. Your presence at an AA meeting should not, in itself, incriminate you as an alcoholic.
     
  11. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Besides, AFaIK the FAA does not ask if you've ever attended AA on the medical application nor does AA participation in any form show up as a disqualifying "condition" in the FAA medical documentation. Like Doc Bruce said, I would expect that the important issue (besides current and future sobriety) will be what the OP's treating physician wrote at the time.
     
  12. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I want to thank the forum for their feedback and continued responses in the future. So, IF my doc categorized me as having an alcohol problem in my record(which he did not tell me and i WILL find out during my next routine physical next month) what are the FAA guidelines, waiting period, and/or steps (aside from Dr. bruce's excellent advice)that would need taken now or in the future to pursue my dream of being a private pilot? And how can i "prove" that i have stopped drinking (to the FAA) since i did not go to any treatment?
     
  13. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    No "aside" from what Bruce tells you -- just do what he says.
     
  14. Mason

    Mason Pattern Altitude

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    "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."

    Having said that, there are two types of AA meetings: Open, and Closed. Anyone is welcome at Open meetings. Closed are supposed to be for members only, i.e. those who have a desire to stop drinking.

    There are other groups for friends and relatives, more specifically Al-Anon.
     
  15. dennyleeb

    dennyleeb Line Up and Wait

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    Liver enzymes can be raised for many many reasons and any doctor who knows their patient drinks some is gonna tell them to slow down. If you were diagnosed as a alcoholic your doctor would have sent you to specialist. Mark no and move on because it sounds like you have never been treated for alcoholism and even in your own sober review don't think you were so why cause yourself the trouble.
     
  16. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My advice for pilots: Just QUIT. Just be Sober. If you have alcohol in your life and it's at the level of a doc's concern, 80% of you will cross over into outright dependency at some time in your life, and that is a FOREVER diagnosis.

    FAA's reg structure does allow third class airmen who have the diagnosis to demonstrate two years of monitored abstinence, and then resume third class unmonitored (e.g, resume drinking) until an infraction occurs. THEN it's a month of intensive rehab followed by 6-8 months down, and back on the "they call you Pee" program.

    But if your physician is able to write, "Tom has been abstinent for a year" the whole thing can be laid to rest. If he cannot....

    "My health is GREAT except for my alcohol problem" doesn't wash in avaition. I have two thrid class airmen who are down, who are paying $50/month for the random program; when they reapply I will be able to tell the examiner in OKC, "Tom has been totally abstinent for two years. I can prove it". It goes a long, long way.....
     
  17. pilotod

    pilotod Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What is the definition of alcoholism? Is it liver enzymes? Rhetorical.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2012
  18. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    If I have to choose between the glass of wine with dinner or the beer I drink while I watch the football game, and my flying privileges, I know my choice. I fly to make my life better. I don't live to fly better.
     
  19. Unregistered

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    Yes, one could and should.

    AA is anonymous, and the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. That is in no way disqualifying.
     
  20. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    Since AA members stand up before the group and say, "Hi, my name is xxxx, and I'm an alcoholic," it seems disingenuous to say that same person can honestly sign a statement certifying that s/he has no history of alcohol abuse. It also seems to violate some of the basic tenets of AA, including being honest with yourself and others, and taking responsibility for your actions, but that's another issue.

    Of course, mere membership in AA is not disqualifying. But if you are an alcoholic, the FAA will insist on proof of your sobriety before they will let you pilot an airplane, and I don't see anything wrong with that stance.
     
  21. Unregistered

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    My guess would be that many pilots, including some on this forum, have abused alcohol. Even repeatedly. That doesn't mean I think they should check that box on the application. They are not experts on alcoholism and should not check that box unless they have been clinically diagnosed by a professional.
     
  22. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    I spilled my beer once. ;)
     
  23. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    there you go.....alcohol abuse.
     
  24. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    My guess is that if you disqualified all pilots who ever had a little bit too much to drink in their lives the population would be reduced by 80-90%. :dunno:
     
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  25. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Can't sell cigarettes on TV, but every sporting event is non-stop advertising for beer. We are a strange sad society.
     
  26. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Beer makes us a happier society. Well, at least me a happier member of society.
     
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  27. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    You've just turned the question backwards. Yes, people who are not alcoholics may have abused alcohol, but it's hard to imagine anyone who is enough of an alcoholic to stand up at an AA meeting and say, "I'm an alcoholic" to be able in good conscience to check that box "no".
     
  28. Unregistered

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    There's no such thing as "enough of an alcoholic".

    I have seen, first hand, people attend AA meetings, do the "I'm an alcoholic" thing for a period of time, and then, after hearing the stories in the room, decide maybe they aren't an alcoholic after all.

    My point is, there are people who have done things while drinking that scared them enough to attend some AA meetings. This does not necessarily make them alcoholics. Quite possibly, but not definitely. Some of them are not. If they believe they are, they really should go and meet with a professional and get educated on alcoholism before they report that they abuse alcohol. There are clinical standards to meet the requirements of alcohol abuse and dependence. Standing up in a meeting and saying "I'm an alcoholic" does not meet the criteria.

    I am only recommending that a person follow proper medical procedure as outlined by the FAA. If you thought you might have cancer, but have not been diagnosed, you wouldn't check "yes" to cancer on the application. It's the same with alcoholism. You need to be diagnosed by a professional.
     
  29. tiger

    tiger Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The 8500 specifically asks about having had a condition without necessarily having had a diagnosis. Admittedly, some of them are less subjective than 'alcohol abuse' - you generally know if you've had fainting spells...
     
  30. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    If the question were "Have you ever been diagnosed with alcoholism," you might have a point. However, the question is "Have you ever been diagnosed with, had, or do you presently have...alcohol dependence or abuse." If you're an AA member, then you know you have a problem with "alcohol dependence or abuse" or you wouldn't be there, and if you still check "no" solely because you've never actually been diagnosed with alcoholism by a health professional, the FAA will consider that a materially false statement made knowingly of its falsity, and will revoke all your FAA certificates.

    And the fact that someone decides on their own after attending some AA meetings that they aren't actually an "alcoholic" doesn't change the fact that they almost certainly have a history of alcohol abuse or dependence, whether they ever consulted a health professional or not.
     
  31. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    "Almost" certainly is not certainly.

    If you can't decide "on your own" that you are NOT an alcoholic, explain to me how you can decide "on your own" that you are one? There could be many underlying issues causing similar symptoms.

    Seems to me that we should leave such a possibly serious medical condition and the diagnoses thereof to the experts.

    And. again. being a member of AA and not checking the alcohol dependence or abuse box will NOT get your medical or anything else jerked, because the second A stands for anonymous, and the members abide by this. There are no membership rolls. One of the reasons for this is to keep zealots from making judgements that they are unqualified to make about members and blocking their opportunities in life.
     
  32. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    :sigh: You don't get it. I just hope you're not actually advising people how to fill out that form on that basis.
     
  33. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I agree.

    When it comes to determining if you have an alcohol problem on your own, you can take the "Alcohol Abuse Self Evaluation", but when you complete it, it says," If you answered “yes” to between 2 and 8 questions, you should consider arranging a personal meeting with a professional who has experience in the evaluation of alcohol problems. If you answered “yes” to more than 8 questions, you "may" have a serious level of alcohol-related problems requiring immediate attention and possible treatment.

    The experts say, even after you answer "yes" to most of the abuse questions, that you "may" have a problem but you still need to be evaluated by a professional. The reason for this is to rule out other possibly serious mental or physical disorders.

    Thats just my take on it. I've been wrong before.
     
  34. Unregistered

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    What don't I get?

    My opinion is to get a professional determination of whether or not you have alcohol dependence or abuse. There are substance abuse professionals trained to determine the condition of the person in question. AA does not do any such evaluation. They accept anyone who wants to quit drinking.

    Maybe at least attempt to explain how you are correct when saying that a member of AA should automatically check "yes" on the abuse or dependence box. Are you aware that this would automatically ground him, most likely for months or possibly years? Don't you think that would be unwise, especially if this person is unsure if he is alcoholic, as many of us are in the early stages? Possibly he's not, and has not abused alcohol to meet the clinical definition of abuse. The "clinical" definition, not your preconceived notions of what AA members most "certainly" have done during their drinking careers.

    I'm not advising anybody to do anything, but I highly recommend NOT self diagnosing yourself as an alcoholic and checking that box until you've talked to Dr. Chien or someone who specializes in that type of problem.
     
  35. bluffman2

    bluffman2 Guest

    So I have not been diagnosed with alcohol problems,I however did voluntarily admit myself to a detox facility to minimize any withdrawl symptoms that may occur, how will this effect my exam?
     
  36. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Yes.

    Since you must declare this admission to the detox facility as a visit to a medical professional (Item 19 on the MedXpress form), the FAA is going to know why and the what was going on in your noggin in the months and years prior that brought you to the point of needing the detox facility.

    There will be a comprehensive list of items that you will need to gather and properly submit to the FAA.

    "What are these items and how do I submit them correctly?" you ask? This is where you need expert guidance since doing it on your own increases your chance of doom and disaster. The expert you need to hire is a Senior HIMS AME.

    HIMS (Human Intervention Motivation Study) AMEs are trained in evaluating airmen for substance- or alcohol-related conditions or other mental conditions. HIMS AMEs can provide sponsorship and monitoring for such conditions when required by the FAA for medical certification purposes.​

    How do you find them? Search this list from the FAA website to see if there is one located close to you. Make a consultation appointment to discuss your situation and gain education and guidance on how to proceed.

    Be ready to search outside of your home range for a HIMS AME that has an opening to sponsor you. Unfortunately there are not many of these particular AME's and the demand for their services remains strong if not increasing.

    Also be ready for a substantial demand on your time and financial budget to achieve a successful outcome. The required exams are very often not covered by insurance, so that will be out of pocket money. Demand for time can include both the travel to the AME, the HIMS neuropsychologist, and others for testing. And lots of patience as the obtaining of certification when an alcohol past is involved is a slow processs.

    There are many past threads on Alcohol and FAA Medical Certification in this Medical Topics sub forum. You are encouraged to search through the entire sub forum and familiarize your self with the information.

    Feel free to post additional questions.


    I am also pinging Doctor's Lou and Bruce for their input. @lbfjrmd @bbchien
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  37. bluffman2

    bluffman2 Guest

    thanks for the reply, i will wait for their reply....
     
  38. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    if they took the insurance $$s they declared you alcoholic. You DO have the diagnosis!

    That a gargantuan insurance footprint.....
     
  39. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    We're not talking about someone having a particularly wild weekend at college, or some other such event; we're talking about drinking too much over a period of weeks, or months, or years. I observed too much of the latter in my life (family members) so I don't drink at all.
     
  40. bluffman2

    bluffman2 Guest

    so my likelihood of PPL up to commercial is very low