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May 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

Deadly Combinations

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Increased multiple drug use especially with concurrent alcohol use may be the cause of an increase in the "lethality" of narcotic addiction in recent years, a psychiatrist at a major New York treatment center suggests.

In a three-year study, Dr. Alex Rich-man of the Beth Israel Medical Center found that daily consumption of alcohol among narcotic addicts had increased 60% from 1972 to 1975.

"The synergistic interaction of alcohol with narcotics may be an important factor in the morbidity and mortality attributed to narcotic addiction," Dr. Richman suggested. "Drug-related deaths attributed to narcotics have significantly elevated blood-alcohol levels in 50% or more of the cases."

The Morris J. Bernstein Institute at Beth Israel has treated 45,000 narcotics addicts since 1961, and gets more than half of the New York City addicts who receive clinical care.

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