LOUIS J. WEST, M.D.; DAVID S. MAXWELL, Ph.D.; ERNEST P. NOBLE, M.D., Ph.D.; DAVID H. SOLOMON, M.D.
After heart disease and cancer, alcoholism is America's third largest health problem; it affects 10 million people, costs $60 billion, and is implicated in 200 000 deaths annually. Alcohol is involved in 50% of deaths by motor vehicle and fire, 67% of murders, and 33% of suicides. It contributes to morbidity in certain malignancies and to many diseases of the endocrine, cardiovascular, hematopoietic, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. The fetal alcohol syndrome occurs in a third of the infants born to women who drink more than 150 g of ethanol daily during pregnancy; another third of the infants become mentally retarded. The prevalence of alcoholism is lower in elderly than in middle-aged persons, but detection is difficult and vulnerability to harm is great in the elderly, due to both pharmacokinetic factors and increased tissue sensitivity. Alcohol and aging are additive in their harmful effects. Although modern medical treatment is helpful, alcoholics are frequently misdiagnosed and mismanaged by health professionals. Total abstinence from alcohol should be a primary goal of treatment.
WEST LJ, MAXWELL DS, NOBLE EP, et al. Alcoholism. Ann Intern Med. 1984;100:405–416. doi: https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-100-3-405
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1984;100(3):405-416.
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