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November 6, 1967


JAMA. 1967;202(6):539-540. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130190145026

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Publication of the new AMA Manual on Alcoholism comes at a time when jurists and legislators are expressing as public policy what most physicians have long known but few have acted upon: that alcoholism in itself is not a crime, nor a reflection of moral turpitude, nor the mark of the shiftless and the profligate, but an illness—a chronic disorder with physical, psychological, and sociological causes, symptoms, and complications.

The Manual, which in 100 pages presents material on etiology and diagnosis and on treatment and rehabilitation methods, defines alcoholism as an illness characterized by preoccupation with alcohol and loss of control over its consumption such as to lead usually to intoxication if drinking is begun; by chronicity; by progression; and by tendency toward relapse.

Typically, the Manual points out, alcoholism is associated with physical disability and also with impaired emotional, occupational, and/or social adjustments as a direct consequence of