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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva
On-line version ISSN 1678-4561
CAMPOS, Edemilson Antunes de. Is alcoholism a contagious disease? Representations on contagion and disease of ex-drinkers. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2005, vol.10, suppl., pp. 267-278. ISSN 1678-4561. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-81232005000500027.
This article is an attempt to set the contours of a cultural theory of contagion about alcoholism. This way, instead of the biomedical model, which circumscribes contagion to the clinically confirmed biological and physiological environment, we try to reflect on the conceptions of contagion associated to a specific social and cultural context, like the one proposed by the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) association of ex-drinkers. From the ethnographic research conducted within family in the Sapopemba group of AA, located in a neighbourhood in the outskirts of the city of São Paulo, Brazil, the role of this agency as a privileged place for anthropological study of alcoholism is stressed. Here alcoholism is viewed as a "contagious" disease, from a study on cultural representations, social practices and the (re)building of identity, linked to the alcoholism/disease couple. In fact, it becomes clear that, for AA members and your family, the possibilities of contagion of the alcoholic disease are directly linked to representations built on alcohol and alcoholism, understood as a physical and moral disease and to its effects on the whole of socials relationships - both family and professional - in which ex-drinkers are involved.
Keywords : Alcoholics Anonymous; Alcoholism; Contagion; Self-help groups.