TO YOUR HEALTH: The Pleasures, Problems, and Politics of Alcohol by

TO YOUR HEALTH: The Pleasures, Problems, and Politics of Alcohol

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The first half of this study by two California doctor-academies with community alcoholism and drug abuse experience is a summary of the medical, legal, and social aspects of alcohol and alcoholism, mostly in the US and derived from recent research. This gives an interesting historical perspective of the three approaches to the subject, sketches American drinking patterns, and describes the physical and biochemical effects of alcohol. The second half is a critical examination of the widespread ""disease"" concept and the alcoholism establishment in general. The authors' recommendations for action similar to tobacco regulation are sound, and they argue fairly convincingly that the ""disease"" concept of alcoholism--as held by the medical profession--is inadequate; they advocate treating ""problem drinking"" as a cultural and social phenomenon. But they are overreliant on limited clinical data and sometimes illogical. Their case against the necessity for abstinence, for example, is refuted by their own evidence. Research such as that showing 7 out of 93 alcoholics drinking with control a year after treatment surely indicates not that ""some alcoholics can drink socially"" but that to try is highly unsafe. Also, their account of the oldest and most successful alcoholism therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous, contains both errors and misconceptions. The physical allergy theory is not a ""philosophical cornerstone"" of AA, which holds that alcoholism is a ""threefold disease: physical, mental, and spiritual""--a concept close to the authors' own. They fail to note, furthermore, that many ""new"" medical concepts are not new to AA-related programs. A valuable presentation weakened by specific lapses.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Seabury