Why Do Alcoholics Drink?

  • Arnold M. Ludwig


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?


Alcohol Consumption Conditioned Stimulus Drinking Behavior Chronic Alcoholic Drinking Pattern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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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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