Essential and reactive alcoholism: A review

R. Dale Walker, Patricia Silk Walker, Frances Maloy, Matthew Owen Howard, M. Dow Lambert, Richard T. Suchinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Methodological characteristics and substantive findings of investigations of essential and reactive alcoholics were reviewed. The data base was comprised of approximately 12 studies published between 1951-1992, most of which employed small samples of hospitalized male alcoholics. Psychometric properties of the Essential-Reactive Alcoholism Questionnaire, the instrument generally used to assess the essential-reactive dimensions, rarely were examined. The weight of the evidence suggests that essential alcoholics have earlier onset and greater severity of alcoholism, lower levels of occupational and educational achievement, more interpersonal conflict, fewer long-term friendships, more antisocial attitudes and conduct, greater density of familial alcoholism, more impaired neuropsychological functioning, and lower resting blood pressure than do reactive alcoholics. Research is needed to assess the prognostic utility of the essential-reactive typology and the degree to which the distinction may facilitate patient-treatment matching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-95
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of clinical psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology


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