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Alcoholism book cover

The Health and Social Consequences of Alcohol Use

by Cecilia M. Schmitz and Richard A. Gray

The authors of Alcoholism: The Health and Social Consequences of Alcohol Use, set four primary tasks for themselves:

  1. Their first task was to define alcoholism and show that it is a primary, chronic, often progressive, and often fatal disease.
  2. Their second task was to marshal the biomedical evidence from books and articles relating to alcohol as an addicting drug and alcoholism as a disease.
  3. The third task was to follow the subject through all of its manifold ramifications, including biomedical, genetic, psychological, sociological, and religious.
  4. The fourth task was to study the effects of alcohol on women, workers, lesbians, gays, Native Americans, African Americans, and other minorities.

Furthermore, Gray and Schmitz were concerned with other important issues, among which are:

  • the effects of alcohol on the organism and disease processes;
  • alcohol-impaired driving;
  • family members and co-dependency;
  • peer and family influences;
  • Alcoholics Anonymous and other treatment programs; and
  • moderate drinking.

Gray has written an informative introduction to Alcoholism: The Health and Social Consequences of Alcohol Use. This introduction is a road map to the important issues associated with the effects of alcohol, alcohol use, and alcoholism. Gray has included Web addresses where pertinent and information on health benefits where medically supported. The introduction covers, but is not limited to:

  • What Is Alcoholism?
  • How Is Alcoholism Treated?
  • Primary Effects of Alcohol on the Mind and Body
  • Complications and Compounding Diseases
  • Alcohol, Violence, and Aggression
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect
  • Psychology and Sociology of Alcoholism

With respect to defining alcoholism (see first task -- above), Gray states: "By `primary,' we mean that it can, and often does, exist alone, without being derivative from other disease processes such as depression or schizophrenia. It therefore must be treated as a separate disease entity. By `chronic,' we mean that it is continuing, not episodic or intermittent. By `often progressive' we mean that it can, and often does, incrementally worsen over time; and by calling it `fatal,' we mean only that it can result in the death of the affected alcoholic."

Readers of Gray's introduction will gain a solid background for understanding this complex topic -- and the extended discussions, which follow.

Following Gray's introduction, Schmitz has provided extended annotations of the most important popular and scientific English-language literature appearing in the 1990s on alcoholism -- annotations extending over 400 pages. Schmitz even includes summaries of numerous full-length monographs.

Schmitz has marshaled the biomedical evidence relating to alcohol as an addicting drug and alcoholism as a disease -- and has vigorously pursued her subject through biomedical, genetic, psychological, sociological, and even religious aspects. Alcoholism: The Health and Social Consequences of Alcohol Use provides detailed information from over 100 books and major articles dealing with alcohol, its effects, and alcoholism. The authors aid their readers by dividing this research tool into 9 chapters and appropriate sub-headings. A detailed table of contents, subject index, title index, author index, and appendix are also provided.

The appendix is a directory of approximately 40 organizations and agencies dealing with alcoholism and recovery. This directory contains Web site addresses where available, but also contains many organizations and agencies that did not have Web sites at the time the directory was compiled.

Alcoholism: The Health and Social Consequences of Alcohol Use will make a significant contribution to libraries whose patrons are college students, faculty, and administrators; high school and intermediate school students and teachers; librarians; researchers; politicians and political advisors; debate clubs; special interest organizations; corporations and government agencies; and other individuals who are concerned with the use and abuse of alcohol.

Cecilia M. Schmitz is with Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. Richard A. Gray is senior editor at Pierian Press.

Ordering Information

  • Science and Social Responsibility Series, No. 3
  • ISBN 0-87650-355-5
  • 6 x 9, 462p, paper, 1998, $40.00
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