Alcohol may be beneficial for Sickle cell patients

April 1, 2011

Research, sickle cell

Dr. James Levenson, MD is conducting a study called the Piscies Project. In the study he talks about alcohol use in sickle cell patients. He found that among those in the study, 30% abused alcohol but, and here’s the kicker, they had no more pain episodes than those not abusing alcohol. The 30% were no more depressed, had fewer crisis and fewer trips to the ER. He found that the patients who used alcohol to cope with pain, did so to avoid going to the emergency room. Patients in the study who used alcohol, hated being treated like drug addicts by the emergency department staff. They complained of waiting for hours for care because the emergency department staff thought they were drug seeking.

It seems most ER staff label sickle cell patients drug seeking. This eventually becomes a deterrent for sickle cell patients who then begin to try to manage the pain on their own at home. Which, can sometimes be dangerous.

To good health

If the results of Dr. Levenson’s study is any indication to what’s happening with 30% of the patients in our society, alcohol can be more beneficial than harmful. When I weigh the harmful affects of the narcotics given to patients, (i.e. morphine, demerol, vicodin) vs the harmful effects of alcohol, I have say I’d prefer the alcohol.

Here are some of Dr. Levenson’s other findings,
Patients who consumed alcohol to cope with pain:
1. Experienced the same amount of pain as those who did not
2. Stayed hydrated and
3. Were better able to cope with stressful events

“Alcohol diverts attention and opens the blood vessels,” said Dr. Levenson. In a pain crisis open blood vessels help the blood flow more freely through the system. So, while most of us believed that alcohol was harmful because it is a diuretic, as it turns out, it has some benefits. Obviously, we want to drink responsibly and never over do it. But, it is ok to enjoy a drink every now and then to help divert attention from pain episodes. I am not saying use alcohol as medicine, but I am saying it is not as harmful as originally thought.

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One Comment on “Alcohol may be beneficial for Sickle cell patients”

  1. Ian Says:

    Looking forward 4 more.


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