• Seventy-Five Years of Policy on Alcohol Problems: An American Perspective

      Roman, Paul M. (2014)
      Objective: This article traces the evolution of alcohol- related social policy over the past 75 years. Method: The literature was reviewed and is critically discussed. Results: The social history of alcohol policies over the last 75 years began with the scientific approach to alcohol in the 1930s and later shifted to a central interest in the disease of alcoholism. Beginning with the National Council on Alcoholism Education, advocates struggled to “mainstream” treatment for this disease into the health care system. Major steps included decriminalization of public intoxication, emphasis of the social respectability of persons with alcohol problems, development of a treatment system that was accompanied by health insurance coverage, and work-based programs to identify and attract employed patients with health insurance coverage. These structures were considerably altered by the War on Drugs, managed care, and the merger of drug and alcohol treatment. The Affordable Care Act, however, has the potential for achieving the mainstreaming goals for alcohol problems originally conceived in the early 1940s. Conclusions: Responsible involvement of the alcoholic beverage industry could greatly enhance current activities but is not likely to occur. Stigma persists in part because of associations with prevention and treatment of illegal drug use problems. The Affordable Care Act offers opportunities and challenges to the specialty of treating alcohol use disorders.