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The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited

The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited

George E. Vaillant

ISBN 9780674603783

Publication date: 05/25/1995

When The Natural History of Alcoholism was first published in 1983, it was acclaimed in the press as the single most important contribution to the literature on alcoholism since the first edition of Alcoholic Anonymous’s Big Book. George Vaillant took on the crucial questions of whether alcoholism is a symptom or a disease, whether it is progressive, whether alcoholics differ from others before the onset of their alcoholism, and whether alcoholics can safely drink. Based on an evaluation of more than 600 individuals followed for over forty years, Vaillant’s monumental study offered new and authoritative answers to all of these questions.

In this updated version of his classic book, Vaillant returns to the same subjects with the perspective gained from fifteen years of further follow-up. Alcoholics who had been studied to age 50 in the earlier book have now reached age 65 and beyond, and Vaillant reassesses what we know about alcoholism in light of both their experiences and the many new studies of the disease by other researchers. The result is a sharper focus on the nature and course of this devastating disorder as well as a sounder foundation for the assessment of various treatments.


  • The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited is a revised and updated version of [what] was, and still is, regarded as a classic and certainly broke new ground during the 1980s… The new text provides an update based on developments over the past 15 years; and its importance again derives from the fact that almost all the alcohol abusers identified in the first version have been followed up for an additional 15 years to make 50 years in all. It goes without saying that 50-year follow-up studies are few and far between… Vaillant’s 50-year follow-up now stands as a milestone within the addiction literature… It is required reading… The data are beautifully presented and described and the conclusions eminently reasonable.

    —John B. Davies, Times Higher Educational Supplement


  • George E. Vaillant is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Book Details

  • 462 pages
  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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