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June 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

Switching Addictions

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Physicians inadvertently contribute to drug abuse when they prescribe tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, or other sedatives for alcohol-dependent patients, according to Lawrence H. Wharton, MD, assistant chief of alcoholism services at Long Beach (Calif.) General Hospital.

Dr. Wharton noted that alcohol is the most frequently used--and abused--sedative in the U.S. today. All too often, doctors prescribe other sedatives for alcohol abusers, not realizing that this might simply switch the patient's addiction from alcohol to another drug.

"If a person has lost control of the use of any one of the sedative drugs, he cannot successfully control the use of any of the other sedatives," he said. Other sedatives used frequently include mild tranquilizers, barbiturates, bromides, and "daytime sedatives," such as Doriden (glutethimide) and Placidyl (ethchlorvynol).

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