Another alcohol abuse question

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by RandomJoe, Feb 18, 2021.

  1. RandomJoe

    RandomJoe Guest

    Hello,

    I've been reading through a bunch of these threads reading about how the FAA deals with alcohol abuse, I had a few questions on what I should report. I currently hold my 3rd class medical and I'm thinking about eventually perusing a career in aviation.

    About myself I did drink very heavily in my early/mid 20's as I worked in a sales role where we went out quite often. I would drink most nights of the week either out with friends or at home by myself, this went on for about 3 years. Starting in 2018/19 I knew I had to cut back so I got myself to drinking under 10 drinks a week.

    I never discussed my binge habits of my early/mid 20's with my doctor at my last appointment in 2019 but I did mention I was drinking on average 10 drinks a week on the lifestyle questionnaire I had to fill out. Luckily everything was normal such as blood pressure, heart rate and the blood test was normal as well.

    When COVID first started there was about two months where the nasty habit came back to daily drinking, luckily through running and online programs (such as reddit stop drinking) I'm back on track to maintaining a mostly sober lifestyle. It's only been a few months but I feel pretty good about this going forward and even if it's not for flying it's what's best for me.

    Anyway for my question is regarding 18o. There was a point where I was physically dependent and I was abusing alcohol for a few years. I never had any major withdrawals requiring a hospital or a program. Should I answer yes on question 18o? I feel like moving forward I'm done with drinking and it won't be a problem in my life anymore, I'm just very concerned that it may be to late and I'd have to go down the HIMS route if I answer "Yes" to that. There is no public record of my alcohol abuse, if I can continue to maintain this sober lifestyle would I face any issues if I put "No" down?
     
  2. RussS

    RussS Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’m not really sure what kind of answer you’re looking for here. Honesty is the best policy....right? Of course honesty means you’ll probably get your medical pulled and have to join the dog and pony show to get it back.

    I’m pretty sure the FAA (not sure about the medical world) looks at dependence as a lifetime thing. You don’t ever stop being dependent...drinking or not.
     
  3. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    My personal opinion is that if I have never been diagnosed with a condition, or there is no evidence that I have it, then I don't have it. As much as they might wish to be, the FAA don't read minds and aren't the thought police, so don't let them become as such.
     
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  4. catmandu

    catmandu Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Don't be shamed from responsible drinking, too many good wines and bourbons in the world. And know the difference between responsible drinking and abuse. It seems you are already aware, IMHO.
     
  5. KeepWatch

    KeepWatch Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There is no reason to report anything to the FAA.

    From your description, it seems you don't get how big of a problem this can get to be. And if you do, you're willing to roll the dice. To be clear, continuing to drink at all is rolling the dice. For some it's not much of a risk at all. It doesn't sound like you're in that group.

    All that being said, there was a time when nobody could tell me anything. Hope you figure it out one way or another.
     
  6. Daleandee

    Daleandee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Seems if everyone's life was an open book to the FAA not many folks would be flying as most closets have skeletons in them ...
     
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  7. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Have a look at my FAA medical info page at http://tinyurl.com/faaMedicalInfo for information and links to the FAA process for this sort of thing. You will see just how big a hassle and a lifetime of HIMS program testing and expense this will be if you go down that route.
     
  8. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Were you diagnosed or adjudicated as abusing or dependent upon alcohol? Are you a medical professional qualified to make that diagnosis? Were you regularly driving impaired and just didn't get caught, but pretty sure you'll do it again?

    When I was in my 20s I probably did one or two things I wish I hadn't. I could stick my head in a shop vise and start tightening, but I see no real reason to do so.
     
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  9. RandomJoe

    RandomJoe Guest

    I appreciate the advice, I really do. At this point I think I want to maintain a sober life not just for flying but for my overall health. I have no issue with not drinking, sure I'll miss out on some things and nights out but in the big picture my life will be better for it. My main thing against HIMS is simply the cost and time commitment, not the fact that I won't be able to drink anymore. If I've been lucky enough to have no major health issues up to this point there is no reason to keep rolling the dice. I feel like joining AA is still something I should do.
     
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  10. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  11. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    No answer to the FAA thing — you've had lots of other feedback on that — but if you fell back to alcohol abuse as a response to stress recently, then it's not over yet; it's just in remission. Addiction is a nasty disease, and it could reemerge the next time you hit a major life stress.

    It sounds like you've made a great start with self-help and Reddit, but please keep going and get other, professional support as well, whatever the career consequences, because you have a lot of life left to live and you're worth it.

    I had someone close to me who was an alcoholic. He was responsible — never drove under the influence, never went to work under the influence, never was violent or abusive, etc — but he used alcohol to self-medicate for chronic anxiety just like you did for acute stress, and he was most of the way down the path of drinking himself to death when cancer sneaked in and got him first (he was far too weak even to try chemo or radiation at that point, so we just had to watch while it ran its course).
     
  12. airheadpenguin

    airheadpenguin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Take care of your health first then flying will follow. I don't see anything that would suggest you've ever been formally diagnosed as dependent, or had a run-in with the law over this, that makes a "No" answer to 18o plausible.

    You recognize the need to manage this, and likely the underlying condition. I would start getting help for the stress, consult with your AME outside of the examination setting on what you would need to document there so that you handle the root cause and don't ever have to answer "Yes" to 18o because there was something that you were managing with alcohol.

    Your AME can give you guidance to make sure that if you get counseling help it's properly documented from the start
     
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  13. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That is my stance on the issue. What is the right thing to do? The wrong thing to do is fly if you've been drinking. Don't do that. What you do on your off time is your business. If you're a super heavy alky, you may have other health issues to deal with, but as long as you don't cross that line, I do not believe that makes you worse of a pilot.

    And as stated in some of the other comments, you are aware of the issue. That tells me you have common sense and can control yourself and do not have an addiction.
     
  14. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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