Heavy Drinking informs the general public for the first time how recent research has discredited almost every widely held belief about alcoholism, including the very concept of alcoholism as a single disease with a unique cause. Herbert Fingarette presents constructive approaches to heavy drinking, including new methods of helping heavy drinkers and social policies for preventing heavy drinking and the harms associated with it.
Fingarette aims to refute evidence that alcoholism is a disease. Rejecting the terms alcoholic and disease, he points out that many ``heavy drinkers'' do not experience craving and/or loss of control, can engage in controlled drinking, and have spontaneous recovery. He also notes the variable success rates of medical treatment programs. Ultimately, Fingarette states that heavy drinking is dependent upon a host of situational factors. The heavy drinker is not ``a passive patient who will be treated by an expert . . .'' but an individual capable of exercising control and assuming responsibility. The weakness here is that alcoholism and heavy drinking are in fact different entities; in discussing alcoholism there is room for both a disease and a situational model. Barbara J. Powell, Veterans Administration Medical Ctr., Kansas City, Mo.