Reflections on findings of the RAND study and their implication for alcoholism research. The study was the subject of intense controversy throughout the popular press and media as well as scientific journals centering on implications of one of the findings — that some alcoholics return to moderate drinking. This finding challenges the basic underpinning of most therapeutic approaches to alcoholism which demand total abstinence as a goal. The requirement of abstinence is based on the disease model for alcoholism postulated by E. M. Jellinek that holds alcoholism is a progressive and irreversible process that can be successfully arrested only by total abstinence. Numerous studies have raised doubt about the model by documenting a return to social drinking without relapse by some alcoholics. The RAND study is only another in a long list of such studies. Reaction to the RAND study may be viewed as symptomatic of a transition to a new paradigm and may result in a vigorous and healthy debate over fundamentals.
This report is part of the RAND paper series. The paper was a product of RAND from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.