In 1975, I published a brief article in the American Journal of Public Health, titled, “Public Health: Alien Ethic in a Strange Land?” In that article, I noted that the prevailing theory for addressing the nation’s alcohol problems would be found by answering a simple question: Why are some people unable to control their drinking?
I noted that the question seemed obvious, almost self-evident. Most people drink. Most people drink without problems. Some people, however, suffer serious alcohol problems including alcoholism and its sequelae of cirrhosis, cancer of the esophagus, stomach, and so forth. Why does this unaccountable minority suffer problems when so many others do not?