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March 1976

Skid Row Alcoholism: A Distinct Sociomedical Entity

Author Affiliations

From the departments of preventive medicine and biostatistics, and medicine, University of Toronto, and the Clinical Institute and Research Division, Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.

Arch Intern Med. 1976;136(3):272-278. doi:10.1001/archinte.1976.03630030010003

The physical-disease characteristics of 125 skid row and 736 non-skid row male alcoholics were compared in detail to determine whether skid row alcoholism is characterized by a distinct medical, as well as a social, profile. Trauma, tuberculosis, venereal disease, and malnutrition were more common in the skid row alcoholics. Epilepsy, peripheral neuritis, acute brain syndromes, chronic brain disease, and lifetime recordings of all nervous system illnesses also occurred more frequently in the skid row group, as did gastritis, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, ulcer surgery, and postgastrectomy syndrome. Fatty liver, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and cardiovascular illnesses of all kinds, however, were less common. The skid row medical profile is, in part, the product of a unique sociologic environment. Thus, skid row alcoholism may be viewed as a distinct sociomedical entity.

(Arch Intern Med 136:272-278, 1976)