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August 25, 1978

Alcoholics Returning to Social Drinking

Author Affiliations

From the Southern Tier Alcoholism Rehabilitation Service, Elmira, NY.

JAMA. 1978;240(8):776-777. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290080066033

"I'VE HAD a bit of trouble in the past, but I've got it licked now, and I think I can return to social drinking." These words are the hope of every alcoholic and the fear of every alcoholic's spouse. The response to such a statement may not be as obvious as it once was.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has long espoused abstinence as the only goal for anyone who has had problems with alcohol, and without question AA has "saved" more alcoholics than any other treatment, organization, or institution. However, in June 1976 the Rand Corporation came forth with a report on alcoholism1 that received wide publicity in the media and seemed to imply that alcoholics can return to social drinking. Reports of treating alcoholics with goals other than abstinence are being published in medical journals. In fact, the field of alcoholism treatment has been criticized for considering and allowing