Day One helps man struggling with liver cirrhosis to stop drinking alcohol


At first Mugsy thought he had a cough that just wouldn't go away. He took steroids, nothing happened. He got an inhaler. That didn't stop the constant coughing either. Then his body started swelling up, especially his ankles, arms and fingers.

"The swelling had got so bad I couldn't put my shoes on, let alone tie them," he recalled. "I went to the clinic, and they said I have to go to the hospital." 

Mugsy, whose real name is Charles but prefers his nickname, found out that drinking alcohol most of his life had finally taken a toll on his body. He was loaded with fluid, 5 liters to be exact, which had to be extracted from his abdomen. All of that fluid put pressure on his lungs, making it difficult for him to breathe. An MRI determined Mugsy has alcoholic liver cirrhosis, the most advanced form of liver disease that's related to drinking alcohol. Now the 55-year-old man may need a liver transplant.

"I wanted to stop drinking, but I didn't want to break my daily routine," Mugsy explained. "It's like going to your son's baseball practices and games for years and then all of a sudden you stop the routine of doing that. I had stopped one time for about five years and just decided one day to have a drink, and it turned into another one and another one. The worst thing for an alcoholic isn't really the drinking, but the routine you put in your life around drinking."

Mugsy's daily routine included drinking three half-pints per day.

Over the years, Mugsy has struggled on and off with alcohol. Since the 1980s, he has been cited three times for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The first time he said he passed out, hitting a parked car and house. Luckily, he was not injured. The last time he was pulled over by police and lost his license for a year.

"The DUI stops you from working," said Mugsy, who works as a mortuary science licensee at different funeral homes. "With that on your record for life, it does more hurt than good."

Mugsy quit drinking in July 2016. He feels better and has an improved outlook on life. His liver specialist suggested he seek therapy and, in August 2016, he began receiving treatment at Oakland Family Services. Mugsy had previously sought treatment at a rehabilitation center but didn't find it as helpful as Oakland Family Services.

"It's a comfortable environment," he said. "My therapist is top of the line, and I don't think I could have gotten a better one. [The therapy] isn't jammed down your throat, and you want to come here. If you are here and don't want to come back, it's because you haven't come face to face with your issues.

"My therapist is a very nice guy who is very knowledgeable. He recommended me going back to AA. When I did, I got a sponsor and I never really had that before. My therapist just draws from his experience and what he has seen and done with other patients and it just clicks and makes a lot of sense. He has a good way of reaching out to people."

If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem, contact Day One at (248) 858-7766.