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Alcoholism

April 08, 1988

Exactly what do physicians do that reduces excessive drinking? If the counter-disease position is correct, it's hard to imagine what would require their expertise. Regardless of which view is more correct, apparently available medical treatment does not help more than much less costly non-medical treatments.

Why then do people seek medical treatment for drinking despite its excessive cost? Simple--insurance covers only that kind and people are not suffering so much as to choose to pay a much lower bill themselves for equally-effective alternate treatments. Of course insurers expect to make a profit, otherwise they wouldn't offer coverage.

It was argued that the disease concept is an improvement over the older moralistic view because more people seek and get treatment now. However, this is not revealing because people usually don't seek treatment from physicians unless convinced they have a treatable disease. If physicians could point to objective evidence supporting the superiority of the disease concept, then I would be less likely to suspect them of craving for and unethically acquiring a rich brew of financial assets at the expense of alcohol's victims.

DAVID CASE

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