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July 12, 1976

Intolerance to Ethanol

Author Affiliations

Anderson Alcoholic Rehabilitation Hospital Janesville, Wis

JAMA. 1976;236(2):141. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270020015010

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To the Editor.—  Dr Hussey's editorial concerning "Indians' Intolerance to Ethanol" (235:1596, 1976) attracted my attention. In the editorial he relates the story of a physician who regularly drank a six-pack of beer daily, but who switched to Scotch because he was getting fat. Drunkenness and occasional belligerence followed, which was attributed to the physician's unfamiliarity with Scotch whiskey. A much more likely explanation is that the change from beer to Scotch was a step in the progression of alcoholism, and that the idea of reducing caloric intake was a rationalization. As the disease of alcoholism progresses, the victim unwittingly loses control of his drinking, and unplanned drunkenness results. In the case cited, the diagnosis could be established by the physician's attempting to return to controlled drinking. In most cases, with a concerted effort, most alcoholics at this stage will succeed in "cutting down" for a period of time. However,