Alcoholism & Environment

The Atlantic has a fantsatic long essay on “The Great Man” study, which has been following a few groups of people from the late 1930s, tracking their lives in countless ways.

It is filled with fascinating nuggets, but here’s one that struck me. ‘Glueck men’ were innercity Boston kids at the time the data collection started, while the ‘Harvard men’ were prestigious Harvard sophomores:

Interestingly, while the Glueck men were 50 percent more likely to become dependent on alcohol than the Harvard men, the ones who did were more than twice as likely to eventually get sober. “The difference has nothing to do with treatment, intelligence, self-care, or having something to lose,” Vaillant told Harvard magazine. “It does have to do with hitting bottom. Someone sleeping under the elevated-train tracks can at some point recognize that he’s an alcoholic, but the guy getting stewed every night at a private club may not.”


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