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Alcoholism: social and family typology

Whatever the aetiology, alcoholism is a family problem. Alcoholism of one member of a family determines the very life of the family. The attempt to apprehend in diagnosis and treatment this broader scope of the disorder enhances the therapeutic results. Systematic use of a model which allows to account for the socio-familial dimension, constitutes a progress, for the therapist and the therapeutic team as well as for the patient and his family. This paper develops a model which permits to differentiate forms of alcoholism, in order to able to match them the most appropriate treatment or sequence of treatment, including the purely biological (e.g. for detoxification) as well as the psychological (family therapy) or social (rehabilitation). Most of the cases require a combination of the three approaches, even if one or the other may be dominating at a particular moment of this long term treatment. Furthermore, only active, organised and early prevention can, on the one hand, encourage people who are liable or tempted to resort to alcoholism to seek other, more effective long range solutions and, on the other hand, discourage potential co-alcoholics from undertaking a Sisyphus labour by practising pathogenic tolerance.

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Roussaux, J. Alcoholism: social and family typology. Ann Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2 (Suppl 1), S23 (2003).

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