A Dying Exercise for Volunteer Orientation

By: Monica K. Ebberts, Hospice Specialists of Salt Lake City

Based on “A Grief and Bereavement Exercise for Small Groups” by Reverend Ronald R. Peak and Reverend James C. Wooldridge, the Hospice of Marin model and a revision by Hospice, Inc. of Larimer County and Utah Heritage Hospice

Preparation:  The facilitator should have a room set up with as few distractions as possible. Remember to put a tissue box on the table.  Lighting should be warm and inviting.  The facilitator should have prepared beforehand (for each participant) twenty (20) slips of paper (roughly 1” by 3” for each sheet size). Each participant should have a pen or pencil.  About 25 - 40 minutes is needed for this exercise.  The facilitator invites participants to the table and asks that everything be put away except a pen/pencil. 
The exercise that we will be participating in is a chance for you as individuals to examine your own personal feelings on dying.  This is a personal exercise and I won’t be examining your responses nor will the other participants.  This is a quiet exercise that will require you to consider your own feelings and thoughts throughout the exercise.  Talking should be limited. 
You will write something on each slip of paper as I give you instructions.  Please count out five slips of paper now.
On the first five slips of paper, I want you to write down five items or possessions you own that are very, very important to you; one item on each slip of paper.  These must be material things, tangible items, that you consider highly and that you value very much.  These could be things such as a journal, a home, a car, or piece of jewelry.  Perhaps you value your stereo system, your Serta Mattress or a family heirloom.  You may not include people, as they are not possessions.  Please write only one item on each slip of paper, five pieces of paper with one item on each sheet.
Please don’t feel rushed. Take the time you need and look up at me when you have finished so I know we can continue.
[Wait until all have completed writing and are waiting for you to continue]
On the next five pieces of paper, please write down five things that you value highly in nature.  Five pieces of the world around you that brings you joy.  These could be things such as a beautiful sunset or the smell of the air after a rainy night.  Perhaps you value lightning storms or a sunny beach.  Please write down one item on each slip of paper, one piece of the world around you on each slip of paper. 
[Wait until all have completed writing and are waiting for you to continue]
On the next five of paper, please write down five things that you consider being important activities such as work, hobbies, leisure time activities and so on.  Perhaps you value reading, swimming, running, or knitting.  Remember to write only one item on each slip of paper.
[Wait until all have completed writing and are waiting for you to continue]
On the last five pieces of paper, please write down five individuals – five people who are very important to you.  Please remember to write down only one person on each piece of paper.  You can’t write the word “family,” but you can put an individual family member on each sheet.  These can include living or deceased people.  You may also include pets as well.
[Wait until all have completed writing and are waiting for you to continue]
Please place all of your sheets of paper in front of you so you can see all of them at one time.  As you place them in front of you, contemplate the importance of these in your life.  The good memories and experiences, and the joy they bring you.
[Pause for about 15 seconds.]
I’m now going to tell you a story.  This is a story about you.  I want you to consider what you would be feeling and thinking about as these events happen to you.
It’s a warm summer day and you have worked hard and played hard all day long.  You’re feeling good about yourself and about life.  You head home and decide to take a shower before heading off to bed.  As you are drying yourself off after your shower, you notice something that was not there before.  It is a lump where one should not be.  It is small, but painful.  Fear strikes you deep.  You brush it off thinking that you’re just imagining it to be something it’s not.  You find you cannot sleep much tonight.
Despite your wishes, the lump continues to enlarge and to become more painful.  The fear about this lump begins to affect other areas of your life; you feel anxious and worried.  You tell a loved one about the lump and you call the doctor for an appointment.  The process has begun – it’s time for you to give away something in your life.  It is time for you to give up one of your slips of paper and toss it into the center of the table.  Please choose a slip of paper, crumple it up and toss it to the center of the table now.
[Wait until all have tossed a paper to the center of the table.]
For the next several days you worry and then you find yourself in the doctor’s waiting room. You feel nervous – your senses are heightened.  You notice everything in the room: the ticking clock, the receptionist clicking her pen, the worn out magazines, and the fish tank gurgling air bubbles.  You realize that you’re feeling anxious.  You tell yourself that you’re making a big deal about nothing.  Your name is called and you jump a little.  Your heart is beating faster now as the doctor takes a history and you try to second-guess why he is asking all of those questions about malignancy in your family history.  “Oh, it’s probably nothing,” he says with a look of worry on his face “But we ought to do some further tests just to be sure.”  As these things run through your mind, more loss and more fear occurs, so take three slips of paper now, crumple them up and toss them into the middle of the table.  “We’ll know by Friday,” says the doctor, smiling reassuringly.  “I’ll call you.”

[Wait until all have tossed a paper to the center of the table.]

You get into your car and drive the few miles home.  It’s two more days until Friday.  You try to keep your mind off of what might happen, but no matter how many other ways you try to distract yourself, you keep coming back to the lump.  Your family is helpful – too helpful as a matter of fact.  You think a lot about “What if?” and “How would they make ends meet if I really got sick?”  It’s only Wednesday night, and time is dragging on slowly.  A tear comes to your eye – life is really precious . . . your family means so much . . . Please give away two more slips of paper.
Thursday plods along and Friday is finally here.  You didn’t sleep too well last night.  “Oh, it’s nothing,” you tell yourself, but deep down you wonder.  The day seems to drag on and you wonder why you haven’t been called yet.  At about two o’clock in the afternoon the phone rings.  It is the nurse at the doctor’s office.  “Could you come in at about 3:30?” she asks, “The doctor wants to speak with you.”  Fear strikes you deeper this time and you worry about what sort of news it is that the doctor can’t talk about over the telephone.  Slowly, methodically, you prepare to go into the doctor’s office.  The lump is still there and you feel it has grown larger just this week.  It is time to give up yet another slip of paper, another thing of value.
The doctor’s examination room is colder this time and feels more sterile.  He examines the lump again and does some routine tests, then asks you to dress and come to his office.  As you walk to his office, your heart begins to beat faster and your legs feel like rubber.  The doctor sits in a chair next to you and the words you have dreaded to hear are finally spoken: “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”  You can’t remember all that the doctor says in the next few minutes, but the words “surgery,” “radiation,” and “chemotherapy” stands out.  You thought you could take this bad news.  You thought you’d be strong.  But now loss, grief, fear, anxiety and loneliness all have a new meaning.  [Pause] Please give up three more slips of paper and toss them into the center of the table. 
A week goes by.
The surgery goes well, so the doctor said, and he prescribes a mixture of radiation and chemotherapy as a proper course of action.  You have a leave of absence from your work (“or school”) responsibilities and the doctor talks in terms of six to eight months of recuperation, but won’t be much more specific than that.  Money is a problem, sure, but it’s a stress you hardly have time to think about what with appointments, medications and adjusting to having good days and bad days.  Things are different now, and it’s hard to realize that so much of your life has changed in just a few short weeks.
A month goes by.
The friends that were so supportive at the time of your operation are strangely silent now; it’s not that they dislike you; it’s just that they avoid you, like your disease was contagious or something.  “Maybe it’s the way I look,” you say to yourself, as you look in the mirror and see the gaunt features that are only a shadow of what you once looked like.  “My skin, my hair – will I ever look the same?” you ask.  You have lost weight and you cry more now.  Your life seems to be slipping away: the body has lost a great deal of its energy; recreation activities have lost their pleasure now.  Why, even going to the bathroom is difficult.  You have changed.  Life has changed.  Now it is time to give up two more slips of paper and toss them to the center of the table.
Several months pass and you know somehow, deep inside, that you’re not getting any better – one clue was that the doctor stopped all treatments today.  He tells you that they have worked as well as they can, but you wonder if he isn’t just abandoning you because there’s nothing left for curative medicine to do.  You are confined to bed most of the time; the yard outside is full of weeds and the early signs of winter are coming on.  Your family and friends from out-of-state come more often now and it begins, slowly at first, to dawn on you that the end, your death, is in sight.  Please give away three more areas of your life now, three more precious slips of paper.
One February morning, the doctor comes by and orders your pain medicine to be increased; you are nauseated all of the time now and your days and nights are hard to keep separated.  Sometimes you awake at night wondering if you are dead or still alive after all.  Life has lost much of its meaning.  Life seems to be spinning out of your control.  [Go around to each participant, quickly take two of their sheets of paper, crumple them up and toss them to the center of the table.  (Do not look at the sheets when you take them.)]
You wake up early one morning not even sure whether it’s morning or night.  You faintly hear birds chirping somewhere in the distance.  Your breathing has become more labored, more difficult.  You somehow sense that this may be your last day.  Please crumple up two more slips of paper . . . you slip into a deep sleep . . .
Your breathing becomes slower, more difficult.  You awake to complete silence . . . you feel disoriented, nor sure where you are.  “Am I still alive?” you wonder . . . You take a long, deep breath . . . holding it in, and then letting it go.  Take another deep breath, hold it in, and let it go.  This last breath was your last breath.  You have died.  Please crumple up your last remaining pieces of paper and give away your last possession from this earth. 
[Pause for about 20 seconds.]
Remember to breathe, keep breathing.  With each new breath sense your energy, your health.  You are alive and well.  You are whole and you can return to the world of living things and living people.
This exercise is over, but at some point, whether later today or later this week, I’d like you to really think about the thoughts and feelings you’ve had.  Think about the things that were truly important to you, the things you held onto the longest.
When you volunteer for our patients, grieve a little for what they’ve lost; for relationships built up over time, for possessions and pieces of the world around them that have been taken without permission.  And remember that now is the time for you to live life to it’s fullest, to embrace the things and people who are most important to you. 


Forget the World

Forget the world, and so
command the world.
Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
Help someone`s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.
Stay in the spiritual fire.
Let it cook you.
Be well-baked loaf
and lord of the table.
Come and be served
to your brothers.
You have been a source of pain.
Now you`ll be the delight.
You have been an unsafe house.
Now you`ll be the One
who sees into the Invisible.
I said this, and a Voice came to my ear:
If you become this, you will be That!
Then Silence,
and now more Silence.
A mouth is not for talking.
A mouth is for tasting this sweetness. 

Shams of Tabritz


Some of my basic rules for Facebook

1. If someone posts hateful or racist content, I block them. I just don't need to see it.
2. I only post about issues I am willing to do something about. I post a lot about the homeless problem in America, thus I volunteer a lot in shelters.
3.I only comment if I have read the content and the comments.
4. I try to read at least one other source before I comment.
5. I try to fact check every meme I see.
6. I always stop for a moment before I hit post.
7. I try not to; and I believe I don't, comment on someones post in a way that I would not want them to comment on a post of mine.
8. Name calling is always bad.
9. Don't take bait if you really don't have a horse in the race.
10. Take the time to manage your facebook. Unfollowing is a great way to keep friends at the proper distance. And an Acquaintance is just that, put them on the list, then you can post to "friends except acquaintances" when you aren't interested in the brand of comments.
11.  I don't use facebook as a source of news.

ect, ect...


Looky there!!


Some good advice


Well, I Could Say, "Everytime I Try To Get Out...."

After the 11th of this month B Rose, will be working in a bike shop again.


I Generally Expect Better From The ATLANTIC


Good To Know...


Thank You Russell Brand

Russell Brand The last time I thought about taking heroin was yesterday. I had received "an inconvenient truth" from a beautiful woman. It wasn't about climate change – I'm not that ecologically switched on – she told me she was pregnant and it wasn't mine. I had to take immediate action. I put Morrissey on in my car as an external conduit for the surging melancholy, and as I wound my way through the neurotic Hollywood hills, the narrow lanes and tight bends were a material echo of the synaptic tangle where my thoughts stalled and jammed. Morrissey, as ever, conducted a symphony, within and without and the tidal misery burgeoned. I am becoming possessed. The part of me that experienced the negative data, the self, is becoming overwhelmed, I can no longer see where I end and the pain begins. So now I have a choice. I cannot accurately convey to you the efficiency of heroin in neutralising pain. It transforms a tight, white fist into a gentle, brown wave. From my first inhalation 15 years ago, it fumigated my private hell and lay me down in its hazy pastures and a bathroom floor in Hackney embraced me like a womb. This shadow is darkly cast on the retina of my soul and whenever I am dislodged from comfort my focus falls there. It is 10 years since I used drugs or drank alcohol and my life has improved immeasurably. I have a job, a house, a cat, good friendships and generally a bright outlook. The price of this is constant vigilance because the disease of addiction is not rational. Recently for the purposes of a documentary on this subject I reviewed some footage of myself smoking heroin that my friend had shot as part of a typically exhibitionist attempt of mine to get clean. I sit wasted and slumped with an unacceptable haircut against a wall in another Hackney flat (Hackney is starting to seem like part of the problem) inhaling fizzy, black snakes of smack off a scrap of crumpled foil. When I saw the tape a month or so ago, what is surprising is that my reaction is not one of gratitude for the positive changes I've experienced but envy at witnessing an earlier version of myself unencumbered by the burden of abstinence. I sat in a suite at the Savoy hotel, in privilege, resenting the woeful ratbag I once was, who, for all his problems, had drugs. That is obviously irrational. The mentality and behaviour of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help they have no hope. This is the reason I have started a fund within Comic Relief, Give It Up. I want to raise awareness of, and money for, abstinence-based recovery. It was Kevin Cahill's idea, he is the bloke who runs Comic Relief. He called me when he read an article I wrote after Amy Winehouse died. Her death had a powerful impact on me I suppose because it was such an obvious shock, like watching someone for hours through a telescope, seeing them advance towards you, fist extended with the intention of punching you in the face. Even though I saw it coming, it still hurt when it eventually hit me. What was so painful about Amy's death is that I know that there is something I could have done. I could have passed on to her the solution that was freely given to me. Don't pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. It sounds so simple. It actually is simple but it isn't easy: it requires incredible support and fastidious structuring. Not to mention that the whole infrastructure of abstinence based recovery is shrouded in necessary secrecy. There are support fellowships that are easy to find and open to anyone who needs them but they eschew promotion of any kind in order to preserve the purity of their purpose, which is for people with alcoholism and addiction to help one another stay clean and sober. Without these fellowships I would take drugs. Because, even now, the condition persists. Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution. If this seems odd to you it is because you are not an alcoholic or a drug addict. You are likely one of the 90% of people who can drink and use drugs safely. I have friends who can smoke weed, swill gin, even do crack and then merrily get on with their lives. For me, this is not an option. I will relinquish all else to ride that buzz to oblivion. Even if it began as a timid glass of chardonnay on a ponce's yacht, it would end with me necking the bottle, swimming to shore and sprinting to Bethnal Green in search of a crack house. I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary. I still eye the shuffling subclass of junkies and dealers, invisibly gliding between doorways through the gutters. I see that dereliction can survive in opulence; the abundantly wealthy with destitution in their stare. Spurred by Amy's death, I've tried to salvage unwilling victims from the mayhem of the internal storm and I am always, always, just pulled inside myself. I have a friend so beautiful, so haunted by talent that you can barely look away from her, whose smile is such a treasure that I have often squandered my sanity for a moment in its glow. Her story is so galling that no one would condemn her for her dependency on illegal anesthesia, but now, even though her life is trying to turn around despite her, even though she has genuine opportunities for a new start, the gutter will not release its prey. The gutter is within. It is frustrating to watch. It is frustrating to love someone with this disease. A friend of mine's brother cannot stop drinking. He gets a few months of sobriety and his inner beauty, with the obstacles of his horrible drunken behaviour pushed aside by the presence of a programme, begins to radiate. His family bask relieved, in the joy of their returned loved one, his life gathers momentum but then he somehow forgets the price of this freedom, returns to his old way of thinking, picks up a drink and Mr Hyde is back in the saddle. Once more his brother's face is gaunt and hopeless. His family blame themselves and wonder what they could have done differently, racking their minds for a perfect sentiment; wrapped up in the perfect sentence, a magic bullet to sear right through the toxic fortress that has incarcerated the person they love and restore them to sanity. The fact is, though, that they can't, the sufferer must, of course, be a willing participant in their own recovery. They must not pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time. Just don't pick up, that's all. It is difficult to feel sympathy for these people. It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk and see them as sick and powerless. It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you and steal from you and forgive them and offer them help. Can there be any other disease that renders its victims so unappealing? Would Great Ormond Street be so attractive a cause if its beds were riddled with obnoxious little criminals that had "brought it on themselves"? Peter Hitchens is a vocal adversary of mine on this matter. He sees this condition as a matter of choice and the culprits as criminals who should go to prison. I know how he feels. I bet I have to deal with a lot more drug addicts than he does, let's face it. I share my brain with one, and I can tell you firsthand, they are total fucking wankers. Where I differ from Peter is in my belief that if you regard alcoholics and drug addicts not as bad people but as sick people then we can help them to get better. By we, I mean other people who have the same problem but have found a way to live drug-and-alcohol-free lives. Guided by principles and traditions a programme has been founded that has worked miracles in millions of lives. Not just the alcoholics and addicts themselves but their families, their friends and of course society as a whole. What we want to do with Give It Up is popularise a compassionate perception of drunks and addicts, and provide funding for places at treatment centres where they can get clean using these principles. Then, once they are drug-and-alcohol-free, to make sure they retain contact with the support that is available to keep them clean. I know that as you read this you either identify with it yourself or are reminded of someone who you love who cannot exercise control over substances. I want you to know that the help that was available to me, the help upon which my recovery still depends is available. I wound down the hill in an alien land, Morrissey chanted lonely mantras, the pain quickly accumulated incalculably, and I began to weave the familiar tapestry that tells an old, old story. I think of places I could score. Off Santa Monica there's a homeless man who I know uses gear. I could find him, buy him a bag if he takes me to score. I leave him on the corner, a couple of rocks, a couple of $20 bags pressed into my sweaty palm. I get home, I pull out the foil, neatly torn. I break the bottom off a Martell miniature. I have cigarettes, using makes me need fags. I make a pipe for the rocks with the bottle. I lay a strip of foil on the counter to chase the brown. I pause to reflect and regret that I don't know how to fix, only smoke, feeling inferior even in the manner of my using. I see the foil scorch. I hear the crackle from which crack gets it's name. I feel the plastic fog hit the back of my yawning throat. Eyes up. Back relaxing, the bottle drops and the greedy bliss eats my pain. There is no girl, there is no tomorrow, there is nothing but the bilious kiss of the greedy bliss. Even as I spin this beautifully dreaded web, I am reaching for my phone. I call someone: not a doctor or a sage, not a mystic or a physician, just a bloke like me, another alcoholic, who I know knows how I feel. The phone rings and I half hope he'll just let it ring out. It's 4am in London. He's asleep, he can't hear the phone, he won't pick up. I indicate left, heading to Santa Monica. The ringing stops, then the dry mouthed nocturnal mumble: "Hello. You all right mate?" He picks up. And for another day, thank God, I don't have to.


Nothin To See Here


I am afraid I will forget everything

  I always say that when I look back on my life it is like running across a burning field. It seems like each day I remember less than the day before. And the fire is catching up. This isn't just the normal, my memory ain't what it used to be, talk. I am really forgetting things.




Effects of the Bottle

What can happen when I drink too much?

Drinking does not go without consequences—some often tragic and fatal.  This year alone, numerous instances of binge drinking on college campuses across the nation have led to students dying.  Excess drinking is certainly dangerous, but even moderate drinking can have long-term negative health consequences.  Drinking can lead to life-long problems with relationships, work, and quality of life. 
Here are some consequences of drinking to consider closely:


  • About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall (Engs et al., 1996; Presley et al., 1996a, 1996b; Wechsler et al., 2002).
  • Alcohol impairs abstract thinking—the ability to put ideas together to solve problems and form rational thought is impaired by drinking and can last from days to weeks, depending on the amount and frequency of drinking.
  • Alcohol impairs memory, reducing one’s ability to remember information that he or she learned prior to drinking.  In addition, one’s attention span is shorter for periods up to forty-eight hours after drinking.      
  • Alcohol impairs REM sleep, preventing quality sleep and causing a person to feel tired after he or she wakes.  Inadequate rest makes it more difficult to concentrate, focus, study and retain information.


  • Research  overwhelmingly suggests that alcohol use and athleticism do not go hand in hand.
  • Dehydration.  Alcohol is a powerful diuretic that can cause severe electrolyte imbalances and dehydration —which can take up to a week to fully recover from.  While dehydrated, an athlete is at greater risk for
    musculoskeletal injuries including: cramps, muscle pulls, and muscle strains.  Dehydration also leads to decreased appetite and muscle wasting—where you can lose muscle mass, resulting in a decrease in strength and performance. 
  • Lowers Testosterone.  Alcohol, when consumed in amounts typical with binge drinkers, can dramatically decrease serum testosterone levels, which is most commonly seen in college athletes.  Decreases in testosterone are associated with decreases in aggression, lean muscle mass, muscle recovery and overall athletic performance.  In males, this can also cause testicular shrinkage, breast enlargement, and decreased sperm development.  In females, this may cause an increase in the production of estradial, (a form of estrogen) which may increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Impairs Reaction Time and Mental Acuity.  Alcohol can impair reaction time and mental acuity for up to several days after consumption, which is a severe consequence to the athlete.  Performance will be reduced and
    thus, injury risk increased.  Athletes will have a decrease in hand-eye coordination and judgment will be impaired.  Alcohol can also cause nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness for days after consumption.
  • Increases Fat Storage.  Alcohol consumption effects body composition by increasing one’s percent of body fat.  Powerful energy pathways (like glycolysis) are impaired and large amounts of lactic acid are produced, this results in decreased energy, decreased muscle recovery, and increased muscle soreness.


  • Did you know that in 2002, an estimated 17,419 people died in alcohol–related traffic crashes—an average of one every 30 minutes. (NHTSA, 2003).  AND in 2001, 2.1 million students between the ages of 18 and 24 drove under the influence of alcohol (Hingson et al., 2002).
  • It doesn’t take as much alcohol as you think to impair your driving skills. 
  • Steering a car while, reaction time, alertness, coordination—all of these can be impaired by BACs—even as low as 0.02.
  • After consuming two drinks in one hour, a 180 pound male will have a BAC of .05 and will be susceptible to diminished driving ability. 
  • The more alcohol you consume, the more impaired your driving skills will be. 
  • Although the legal BAC limit for adults who drive after drinking is 0.08 in most states (including Nebraska), impairment of driving skills begins at much lower levels. 


  • Many students don’t realize that excessive drinking in college leads to the development of alcoholism. 
  • Some students enter college already having experience drinking heavily in high school or even earlier and continuing their excessive drinking only increases their risk for developing a problem with alcohol.
  • Other students come to college not having much experience with drinking alcohol, but become immersed in the culture of binge drinking and excessive use and start along a path toward addiction and/or alcoholism
  • Other factors that can affect the development of alcohol addiction include family history of the disease or other addiction problems as well as use of or addiction to other drugs (i.e. marijuana, methamphetamines, prescription drugs, etc.)


  • Alcohol interacts negatively with more than 150 medications.  Combined with antihistamines (for a cold or allergy) alcohol increases the drowsiness that the medication alone can cause, making driving or operating machinery even more hazardous.
  • Combined with large doses of the painkiller acetaminophen, alcohol can cause serious liver damage.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before drinking any amount of alcohol if you are taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications. 
  • The NIAAA provides an extensive listing of harmful interactions.


  • Drinking can effect more than just our bodies: it increases the potential for problems in relationships with friends, family, coworkers, significant others, and even strangers.  Alcohol can:
    • lead to arguments with or estrangement from your spouse and other family members
    • cause strained relationships with coworkers
    • cause absence from or lateness to work/class with increasing frequency
    • lead to loss of employment due to decreased productivity; and 
    • lead to committing or being the victim of violence.
Source: www.jointogether.org/as/learnMore/effects/0,2956,86%255F1,00.html


  • Brain Damage – Students who drink have a significant reduction in learning and memory and are most susceptible to damaging two key brain areas that are growing and developing.
  • The Hippocampus handles many types of memory and learning and suffers  from the worst alcohol-related brain damage in young Americans.  Research shows significantly smaller hippocampi for those who had been drinking more and for longer.
  • The prefrontal area (behind the forehead)—sometimes referred to as the “CEO of the Brain” undergoes the most developmental change in adolescence and into early adulthood.  Heavy drinking during these years can cause severe changes to this area—which plays an important role in forming adult personality and behavior. (Source)
  • Liver Disease – More than 2 million Americans suffer from alcohol-related liver disease.   Because the liver’s primary purpose is to process nutrients and filter the blood, it suffers the most life-threatening damage from alcohol.  Too much alcohol use can cause a slowing of liver function, a swelling of
    liver, cirrhosis or cancer.
  • Heart Disease – Although  some believe moderate drinking can have beneficial effects on the heart, heavy drinking can lead to: 
    • high blood pressure
    • enlarged heart – cannot be repaired
    • coronary heart disease – narrowed arteries lead to heart attack and death
    • irregular heartbeat, which can lead to heart attack and death: decreased bloodflow to the arms and legs
    • stroke – blocked bloodflow to the brain or bleeding in the brain; stroke is a major killer
  • Pancreatis – the pancreas has a role in digesting food as it regulates blood sugar levels and releases insulin accordingly; long-term drinking can cause inflammation of the pancreas.  This condition—known as pancreatic—is associated with severe abdominal pain and weight loss and can be fatal.
  • Cancer – heavy alcohol use increases the risk of developing the following cancers: esophagus, throat, mouth, voice box, colon or rectum; women who drink excessively have a great chance for breast cancer.


No risks

Cancer – heavy alcohol use increases the risk of developing the following cancers: esophagus, throat, mouth, voice box, colon or rectum; women who drink excessively have a great chance for breast cancer.



What Kind of Drinker Are You?

Use the following phases and their descriptions to determine what kind of drinker that you, a friend or family member is.

Occasional Drinker: Phase 1

  • Joe and Jane may choose to drink once in awhile.
  • When they do drink, they do not get impaired. Since they do not drink to impairment, there’s no increase in their tolerance.
  • There are no negative outcomes from their drinking.
  • They have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about drinking.

Social Drinker: Phase 2

  • Jane and Joe enjoy drinking. They drink regularly, perhaps two or three times per week.
  • When they do drink, they usually get impaired. Because they are drinking to impairment, their tolerance is increasing.
  • There are no apparent negative outcomes from their drinking, except maybe a hangover once in awhile. 
  • They generally look forward to the weekend so they can “really let loose.”

Problem Drinker: Phase 3*

*At Phase 3, an individual still has the option of going back to being an occasional or social drinker.*
Early Phase:
  • Jane and Joe drink regularly.
  • They get impaired regularly. Their tolerance is continuing to increase.
  • They arrive late for classes and sometimes cut classes due to drinking and/or hangovers.
  • The quality of their school work is inconsistent. They are missing deadlines.
  • They seem to be preoccupied with drinking.
  • They might experience a blackout.

Middle Phase:
  • Jane and Joe begin to cut classes regularly.
  • They become unreliable. Their personal relationships begin to suffer from disagreements with roommates, teammates and/or friends.
  • They avoid situations where there is no drinking.
  • They become ill more frequently.
  • They experience more money problems.
  • They drink in the morning once in awhile to cure their hangovers.
Late Phase:
  • Jane and Joe cut classes a week at a time.
  • At times their attitudes are belligerent and aggressive or passive and withdrawn.
  • They experience many personal problems with friends and family.
  • They have more money problems. Maybe they get a job to support their partying.
  • They may get a DUI violation or encounter serious trouble with school administration.
  • Their academic performance may deteriorate drastically.

Addicted to Alcohol: Alcoholic: Phase 4*

*At phase 4, an individual CANNOT go back to being an occasional, social or problem drinker; the person has become an alcoholic and always will be.*
  • Jane and Joe become totally undependable. They experience serious family and other relationship problems.
  • They drink to cure their withdrawal from alcohol.
  • They experience serious legal difficulties.
  • They get suspended or drop out of school.
  • They experience many other negative outcomes.
Can someone consume alcohol and not experience any serious alcohol problems? As you can see, drinkers in Phase 2 may be doing just that. They are out drinking, getting impaired yet not experiencing any problems. But—and it’s a huge but— each time we drink to impairment our tolerance increases. We know that if we continue to drink to impairment, our tolerance will continue to increase - it is a biological fact. As a result, the increasing tolerance moves us eventually to Phase 3 and eventually to Phase 4. (That is why increasing tolerance is always an indicator of increased risk for alcoholism. The student who brags about his or her ability to consume excessive quantities of alcohol is actually revealing, and ignorantly bragging about, his or her increased risk for alcoholism.)


Remember to make good decisoins.

Alcohol Poisoning

When should you seek professional help for a friend?

Students often laugh at the behavior of others who are drunk. Some think it's even funnier when they pass out. But there is nothing funny about the aspiration of vomit leading to asphyxiation or the poisoning of the respiratory center in the brain, both of which can result in death.  Sadly enough, too many college students say they wish they would have sought medical treatment for a friend. Many end up feeling responsible for alcohol-related  tragedies that could have easily been prevented.

Sobering-Up MYTHS

  • Drink black coffee
  • Sleep it off
  • Take a cold shower   
  • Eat fatty/greasy foods        
  • Walk it off
These are just MYTHS and they don't work!!  The only thing that reverses the effects of alcohol is TIME -- something you may not have if you are suffering from alcohol poisoning.

 Risk Factors

  • Amount of Alcohol you Drink – the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for alcohol poisoning.  REMEMBER: the average person is only able to metabolize about 1 standard drink (.5 oz) per hour.
  • How Fast You Drink – playing drinking games, doing kegstands or powerhours, or chugging alcohol greatly increases your risk for getting alcohol poisoning.  Rapid binge drinking (which often happens as a bet or dare) is extremely dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal does before becoming unconscious or showing signs of poisoning.
  • Use of Marijuana or Medication – using certain types of medications or  marijuana decreases nausea and puts you at higher risk for alcohol poisoning because your body is unable to vomit and rid itself of the toxic levels of alcohol before they are dumped into the bloodstream.
  • High BAC Levels- Alcohol Poisoning corresponds with high Blood Alcohol Content levels.  Click here for more on the Factors that Affect BAC.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness, discolored lips

What Happens to Your Body?

  • Alcohol depresses the sympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions.
  • Alcohol irritates the stomach, so it is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit.  There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication.
  • A person's blood alcohol content (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. A person does not reach his or her peak BAC until about an hour after he or she stops drinking.  It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.

What If Alcohol Poisoning Goes Untreated?

  • Victim chokes on his or her own vomit
  • Breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops
  • Heart beats irregularly or stops
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures
  • Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death


  • Even if the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage.
  • Rapid binge drinking (which often happens on a bet or a dare) is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious or showing signs of poisoning.
  • Don't be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink.
  • Don't worry that your friend may become angry or embarrassed-remember, you cared enough to help. Always be safe, not sorry.


Red Hot Morals from B Rose

  When I was a kid; probably in first grade, my mom worked at a convenience store. It was an AM/PM. When I would get home from school she was still at work, so I had the apartment to myself.
  One of the things I had plenty of in my life was slim jim tubes, you know the tall plastic tube/ canisters that beef sticks used to come in. Mom would bring them home for me. It was probably the most plentiful toy I had.
  I didn’t understand how thermostats worked, so It would get pretty cold in the winter in our little apartment. And since there was a problem to be solved I set about it. I had seen space heaters before at some of my more affluent friend’s houses and they seemed like a great idea.
  I took a hair dryer and pulled all the guts out, easy enough I was pretty good with a screw driver. Then I installed all those guts into one of the jerky tubes, I remember how easy it was. The self tapping screws of the hair dryer went through the plastic of the jerky tube really easy. Looking back; in my minds eye, it went together really smoothly and looked really pro. It was a transparent space heater, a real DIY success.
  Exuberance would best describe how I felt as I basked in the warmth of the world’s finest space heater… then it melted and started to smoke. I got in trouble for ruining a hair dryer and making the apartment smell like burnt plastic.
  That year I asked for a space heater for Christmas but there was no budget for something like that. I think that year I got half a slinky, but I straightened it.
  The moral of the story is, I didn’t invent anything.


Binge drinking is a sign of Assholeism

What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking = the consumption of five or more drinks at one sitting or in a row for males and three or more drinks at one sitting for females. (Source: Harvard School of Public Health)
Binge drinking is the type of problem drinking most often engaged in by young people in the 18- to 21-year-old age range, most prevalent with college students.
Binge drinking is irresponsible, heavy drinking that often comes under the disguise of fun and games—it is terribly dangerous to the drinker and to people around him or her.

Binge drinkers:

  • Drink "to get drunk." The goal is to lose control. A person can’t lose control of just some of his or her body, mind, and behavior; the loss of control regularly crosses over into hazard zones and reaches dangerous levels with serious consequences (i.e. blackouts, alcohol poisoning, etc.).
  • Drink large quantities.
  • Drink quickly.
  • Do foolish, potentially deadly things like driving drunk, starting fights, being sexually promiscuous and taking unnecessary risks.
  • Are more likely to: damage property, have trouble with authorities, miss classes, have hangovers, experience sexual assault or unwanted sexual activity and experience injuries than those who do not.


Blackouts are not normal




What is a ‘blackout’?

  • A blackout is an “alcohol-induced brain dysfunction”
  • A blackout occurs when a person consumes enough alcohol that it interferes with brain function and memory formation.  “Alcohol in sufficient quantities prevents the NMDA receptors in the hippocampus from reacting to the glutamate neurotransmitter, thus blocking formation of memory.” (Sweeney, 2004, p. 67)

In other words…

  • When blacked out, a person’s working or short-term memory is broken.  The person cannot form any short-term or working memory, or any other kind of memory for that matter.  
  • Because one cannot form memory, they are living in the “precise present”.  What one sees, hears or feels a moment, a minute or five minutes ago is unknown to them. 
  • One cannot remember what is immediately happening, nor make use of past knowledge to alter his or her conduct. 
  • One is out of control, wholly impulsive.  Without knowledge of recent events, there is no capacity for rational thought.  Such people are a menace to themselves and others.  (Sweeney, 2004)

A Blacked-Out Person: A Scary Reality

People in a blackout do not forget what happened, as widely believed.  The truth is, they will never remember, because alcohol blocked their ability to form memory.  People who are blacked out can remember things from their distant past, but because they cannot form short-term memory, they can’t remember anything that happened a minute ago.  Without short-term memory formation, they CANNOT:
  • learn
  • think
  • plan
  • form intent
  • consider consequences
  • make a decision

The reality is:                                    

  • They have blacked out.
  • They are unconscious.
  • They do not know where they are, what they are doing, even what time it is. 
  • They are at risk to “act out of character” and do something regrettable.
  • They could have had sex with the stranger lying in bed next to them, run up huge bills on their credit cards, gambled away life savings, said unforgivable things to people they care about, gotten into fights, driven drunk or killed innocent people.
  • They will never remember any of it.
  • Yet… their pre-blackout memory remains intact, enabling them to walk, talk, drive, travel, quarrel, get into fights, wield a knife or hammer—and never know it.  They are “walking, talking, unconscious and lethal”.

Who Can Experience a Blackout?

  • Anyone who drinks alcohol—both non-alcoholics and alcoholics.
  • A person who gets drunk once in his or her lifetime may experience a blackout.
  • Healthy drinkers (who use occasionally, socially, and/or moderately) are extremely frightened by the occurrence of a blackout and will reevaluate his or her alcohol use patterns.
  • Problem drinkers who continue unhealthy drinking behavior will increase their tolerance and likely experience more blackouts—which is a sign of Early Stage Alcoholism.
  • Frequent blackouts are experienced by individuals who have developed higher tolerance, drink until drunk and often lose control, pass out, and/or crave alcohol.  These individuals are most likely early to middle stage alcoholics.



Tired of watching you drink yourself to death. You are not doing ok.


Wonder why?

Conservatives can be so simple minded.


Who wants to die for art?






I wish MPLS had this


2 sides





Ted has been irrelevant for decades