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January 31, 1972

Overmanagement of the Alcoholic Patient

JAMA. 1972;219(5):622. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03190310048021

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To the Editor.—  Experience with 1,000 alcoholics during the past four years has impressed the staff of this alcoholism treatment program with the fact that excessive and costly medications are frequently thrust upon the alcoholic needlessly. This "treatment" consists of a barrage of medications derived mainly from tradition rather than genuine need. Physicians, nurses, relatives, and patients are reluctant to forego this traditional "therapy" because the "giving" and "getting" of a tangible "something" substitutes for more complex and difficult treatment of the primary problem. Early in this program, we (staff and patients) also obtained a comfortable feeling of achievement from the daily and then three times weekly injections of cyanocobalamin for six weeks, orally given multivitamins for months, tranquilizer for variable indefinite periods, "sleepers," etc. Alcoholics are quite willing to continue such therapy after the actual need has vanished. Many physicians are willing to do the honors.If one postulates