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January 5, 1970

The Truth About Alcohol Dependence

JAMA. 1970;211(1):114-115. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170010068014

An October issue of The Journal carried a statement by the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, "Guidelines for Admission of Alcohol-Dependent Patients to General Hospitals."1 This furthered the policy of the House of Delegates to the effect that alcohol-dependent patients are ill and are a medical responsibility.

To some extent in recent years, insurance coverage for illness has been liberalized to include some payments for hospitalization and treatment of alcohol-dependent patients. Also, more and more general hospitals admit patients having a diagnosis of alcoholism.

Nevertheless, when hospitalizing such patients, some physicians record another diagnosis. Sometimes this is done at the request of the patient who fears that he will be stigmatized by the true diagnosis. At other times, hospital policy precludes admission of alcohol-dependent patients, the patient's insurance coverage has not been liberalized, or the physician wishes to conceal the real problem for some other reason.

This practice distorts