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The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited

Jack H. Mendelson, MD
JAMA. 1996;275(1):73. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530250077034.
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In 1983 Dr George Vaillant reported a study, The Natural History of Alcoholism, based upon a research program of adult development at the Harvard Medical School. The original study carried out from 1940 through 1980 involved 660 men during their maturation from adolescence to late middle life. Of the 660 subjects, 204 were college students with excellent social and economic resources. A total of 456 young men were selected from less fortunate inner-city environments, and 100 alcohol-dependent men and women who were in treatment for alcohol detoxification were also evaluated on a longitudinal basis.

In Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited Dr Vaillant notes that "rather than alter the original text I have chosen to add data collected and literature reviewed since 1980 in new sections under headings marked revisited." He also states that "one purpose of using separate sections for new material is to underscore the relativity that time imposes


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