The Relationship of Tolerance and Physical Dependence to Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Problems

  • Howard Cappell
  • A. Eugene LeBlanc

Abstract

In referring to the semantic difficulties generated by attempts to define alcoholism, Mendelson (1971) wisely observed, “tiIt is imperative to differentiate between pharmacological and sociocultural criteria of alcoholism in order to avoid the confusion usually generated by the ritual polemics over definitions” (p. 513). As an antidote to the polemic, Mendelson proposed that the defining criteria of alcoholism be tolerance and (physical) dependence, since the phenomena denoted by these words are less elusive than “tialcoholism,” although not without definitional problems of their own. To biologize alcoholism in this way has the clear advantage of pointing the way to the study of phenomena that are amenable to systematic clinical and laboratory investigation. It cannot be overstressed, however, that it is vital to separate tolerance and physical dependence as defining characteristics of a disorder known as alcoholism from their possible role in the etiology and maintenance of this disorder, no matter how plausible the argument that tolerance and physical dependence are etiologically relevant may seem.

Keywords

Placebo Depression Aldehyde Amphetamine Corticosterone 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard Cappell
    • 1
  • A. Eugene LeBlanc
    • 1
  1. 1.Addiction Research FoundationTorontoCanada

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