Alcohol abuse and alcoholism represents one of the major health, social, and economic issues facing not only America but much of the world. Problems with alcohol appear to be a common curse, afflicting almost all industrialized nations as well as the developing countries. In the United States today at least 10 million people suffer the misuse. It is estimated that 205,000 individuals die prematurely each year from a variety of ethanol-induced factors, including cirrhosis, cancer, heart disease, suicide, homi cide, and highway fatalities and other accidents. In purely economic terms, the alcohol-related cost to our society in 1975 is estimated at nearly $43 billion in lost production, medical expenses, motor vehicle accidents, fire losses, and the maintenance of social mechanisms to deal with these problems. But the economic impact pales in comparision with the psychological pain and anguish brought to alcoholics and their family and friends. The disease of alcoholism bears a close relation to the topic of our dedication, for it is equally insidious and sadistic, it destroys humanity and rational thought, and it brings terror, pain, and death.
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