Treatment of Alcoholism

November 17, 1965

Report Outline
Growth of Interest in Alcoholism
Approaches to the Abuse of Alcohol
Obstacles in Treatment of Alcoholics

Growth of Interest in Alcoholism

Preparations are under way to launch the federal government's first broad attack on alcoholism. As now contemplated, the attack will be comparable to various multi-faceted campaigns undertaken in cooperation with state and local agencies to eradicate or reduce other hazards to health. Many authorities consider alcoholism—in terms of its incidence, its resistance to attempts at cure, and its effects on the individual, the family, and the community—a public health problem outranked only by the great killer diseases (cancer and heart trouble) and by mental illness. Yet relatively little governmental effort or money has been expended to deal with the problem.

Number of Alcoholics and Toll of Alcoholism

The exact number of alcoholics can hardly be determined. It is commonly recognized that excessive drinking is fairly prevalent in this country and that a relatively large percentage of heavy drinkers are alcoholics or are on the road to becoming alcoholics. Most authorities agree that there are probably five million alcoholics in the United States and that their condition directly affects the well-being of possibly 20 million close relatives. Inclusion of all so-called problem drinkers might raise the total number of alcoholics, according to some estimates, to as many as 10 million or more.

The toll taken by alcoholism also is difficult to measure. Excessive drinking is known to be progressively destructive of health; 10,500 deaths in 1963 were attributed to that cause. Long before health is destroyed, the compulsive drinker may become unable to hold a regular job. Drunkenness and loss of income may lead to breaking up of the family, dependency, and child neglect. Losses to industry from absenteeism and from other problems associated with heavy drinking have been put at $1 billion a year. In addition, $1.25 billion is estimated to be spent annually for the care and treatment of alcoholics and for the financial support of their families.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 15, 2020  Alcohol Abuse
Jun. 08, 2012  Alcohol Abuse
Sep. 07, 1990  Dealing with the Dangers of Alcohol
Dec. 26, 1973  Resurgence of Alcoholism
Nov. 17, 1965  Treatment of Alcoholism
Mar. 22, 1949  Alcoholism
Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse