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August 29, 1959


Author Affiliations

Chairman, Committee on Alcoholism of the Council on Mental Health, American Medical Association.

JAMA. 1959;170(18):2204-2205. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010180056014

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IT HAS been estimated that about 5 million people in the United States suffer from alcoholism. Of these, about 2 million are employed in industry. The cost of this problem, it is claimed, approximates a billion dollars annually. Roughly half of this total is accounted for by loss of time and wages, low productivity, waste of materials, and property damage. The remainder is spent on treating and caring for alcoholic patients, for custody, and, in some cases, punishment and incarceration. The greatest cost, however, cannot be reckoned in dollars; it is reflected in the suffering borne by the patients and by those near and dear to them.

In some cases, the risk and potential loss due to alcoholism goes beyond the patient, or his family and his employer, and involves risk to fellow workers. Where judgment is rendered inaccurate or faulty because of alcoholism, great danger may arise to people

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