Why Do Alcoholics Drink?

  • Arnold M. Ludwig

Abstract

The deceptively simple question “Why do alcoholics drink?” is central to the problem of alcoholism. Dissection of the question, however, reveals it to be highly complex, fraught with the potential for semantic and conceptual confusion. Why refers to etiology, cause, or underlying mechanisms of action. Should the answer then be addressed toward the biochemical, physiological, psychological, behavioral, social, or cultural determinants of drinking? The term alcoholic also creates difficulties. What type of alcoholic: essential versus reactive, primary versus secondary, binge versus steady (Ludwig, Cain, Wikler, Taylor, and Bendfeldt, 1977), problem versus addicted (Straus, 1976), loss-of-control versus non-loss-of-control (Stein et al., 1968), or Jellinek (1960) type drinkers? And what about the word drink? Does this refer to the type of beverage: beer, wine, or liquor? Does it refer to the pattern of drinking: periodic versus constant, solitary versus social, or situational versus nonsituational? Or does it refer to the amount consumed over some span of time?

Keywords

Placebo Depression Titration Respiration Fractionation 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold M. Ludwig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineLexingtonUSA

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