The consumption of alcohol has been a problem for thousands of years. According to a recent edition of a leading American textbook of medicine approximately ninety percent of the adult population of the United States have drunk alcohol at least once in their lifetime. Forty to fifty percent of men have had temporary alcohol-induced problems. Ten percent of the men and between 3 and 5% of the women in the United States develop pervasive and persistent alcohol related problems (alcoholism). A study conducted in the US in the 1960s’ showed the rate of heavy drinking among white males to be about the same as among black males (21 % vs 19%), but showed a higher rate among black women than among white women (11 % vs 4%). However, more recent studies (the Epidemiological Catchment Area studies) found no significant difference in the rate between blacks and whites. A study of black Americans admitted with a diagnosis of pneumonia found that 30% of them were alcoholic. This is in agreement with a recent psychiatric textbook which states that between 25 and 40% of general surgical and medical in-patients in the US have alcohol problems.

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