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November 6, 1972

Alcoholism Is a Disease

JAMA. 1972;222(6):699. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03210060049013

The American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, and other bodies have long accepted the concept of alcoholism as disease. Now the National Council on Alcoholism has issued a statement listing the criteria for diagnosis of alcoholism.1,2 These criteria were compiled by a committee of medical authorities in order to establish guidelines for proper diagnosis and evaluation of this malady. They include the diagnostic areas in physiological, clinical, behavioral, psychological, and attitudinal groups of symptoms. This action by the National Council on Alcoholism is to be sincerely applauded. It has long been necessary, for both medical and legal purposes, to define the condition of alcoholism. No treatment can be started nor can preventive or corrective action be initiated unless the problem itself has been confirmed, both in existence and in degree.

Diagnostic criteria may serve to ascertain the nature of disease from a cluster