Alcoholism: Faster Fall May Mean Quicker Recovery

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: President Clinton signed harsh sanctions against Cuba into law Tuesday morning, as voters in Florida went to the polls in their state's presidential primary. Clinton hopes his championship of the bill will score points with anti-Castro Cuban-American voters. "This may help Clinton in Florida," says Time's Cathy Booth. "But he's not going to win the Cuban-American vote, although he is doing better than he could have hoped before he got on board this issue." The strict Helms-Burton legislation had been stalled until Cuban fighters shot down two American civilian planes in international waters, killing four people. Some relatives of those victims were in the White House Tuesday to watch the President sign the bill, which would deny U.S. visas to many foreign nationals who do business in Cuba. It also allows Cuban exiles to sue companies who profit from assets confiscated during Castro's rule.CHICAGO: Poor alcoholics are more likely to recover than their wealthy counterparts and both groups are less likely to relapse after five years of sobriety, according to a study released Tuesday. Dr. George Vaillant of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston tracked 724 men for 50 years to gather data on alcohol abusers. The participants came from both ends of the economic spectrum: 456 were teens from inner-city Boston and 268 were sophomores at Harvard University. Valliant's results, published in the American Medical Association's Archives of General Psychiatry, showed that of 129 inner-city adolescents who became alcohol abusers, 37 percent had remained sober for at least three years by age 60. In contrast, only 19 percent of the 52 Harvard graduates who became alcohol abusers had remained sober for three or more years by age 70. One explanation for the results, said the author, is that poor alcoholics often "hit bottom" faster than middle or upper-class drinkers. "It's hard work to give up alcohol forever," said Valliant. "It helps if you're really hurting, which is hopeful in the sense that people who you wouldn't think would recover do." The flip side: poor alcoholics who fail to recover die at a younger age than wealthier drinkers. In the study, one-fourth of the inner-city drinkers had died by age 60, compared to 15 percent of the Harvard-educated abusers.