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September 19, 1986

Disulfiram Will Reduce Medical Complications but Not Cure Alcoholism

Author Affiliations

UCLA School of Public Health UCLA Center for Health Sciences Los Angeles

JAMA. 1986;256(11):1489. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380110095034

The Veterans Administration cooperative study on disulfiram is a welcome relief from the carnival-like atmosphere increasingly shown in newspaper and television advertisements. The serious problem of alcoholism has been lost in the competitive hype among alcoholism treatment centers. Any sophisticated critic using statistical analysis to measure treatment effectiveness is appalled by the display of a media or sports star claiming cure thanks to a specific treatment center's help—which proclaims 80% to 90% cure rates. In addition, the price tag that accompanies these purported cure rates is not put into perspective by being compared with the cost of a herniorrhaphy, obstetrical delivery, myocardial infarction, or coronary bypass. This cooperative study provides advanced data on the merit and role of disulfiram and sheds additional light on the epidemiologic outcomes of alcoholism treatment.

Dr Fuller and his colleagues1 summarize their finding by stating that disulfiram did not enhance