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Am J Psychiatry 1958;114:707-711.
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Asst. Prof. Div. of Med. Sociology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Tex.

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Cases of alcoholic tuberculosis patients presented some instances of a history of physical complaints which gave rise to the hypothesis that respiratory defects and allergy are associated with alcoholism. The hypothesis was investigated in a random sample of discharged cases from Firland Sanatorium in Seattle, numbering 100 and evenly divided by sex and with reference to alcoholic diagnosis.Alcoholics were significantly distinguished by one or more of a selected list of respiratory complaints, by a multiplicity of them, by the more individually frequent of them, and by gastrointestinal and skin allergies. Respiratory complaints and allergies were associated among alcoholics and nonalcoholics alike, particularly sinusitis.Assuming these findings to be valid for at least some alcoholics, a theoretical explanation is suggested. Respiratory difficulty and anxiety are mutually and cumulatively interrelated in causative fashion. Both are relieved by the use of alcohol. Acquiring this sort of relief from a chronic condition gradually takes precedence over a widening range of activities.

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