Jellinek FormulaJellinek Jellinek formula refers to a method of estimating the number of alcoholics in a population, originally proposed by E. M. Jellinek around 1940 and fully published in 1951*. In its final form, the formula was (PD/K)R, where is the number of alcoholics; D is the number of reported death from ‘cirrhosis in a given year; P, K, and R are assumed to be constants, reflecting respectively the proportion of cirrhosis deaths due to alcoholism, the percentage of alcoholics with complications dying of cirrhosis in a given year, and the ratio of all alcoholics to alcoholics with complications. Although both the assumption that PK, and are constants and the conceptual basis of the formula attracted increasingly heavy criticism, and, by 1959, Jellinek himself recommended abandoning it, for lack of alternatives, the formula remained in wide use into the 1970s.

*WHO Expert Committee on Mental Health. Report on the first Session of the Alcoholism Subcommittee. Geneva World Health Organization, 1951 (WHO Technical Report Series, No. 42); Annex 2, Jellinek estimatior formula.


Jellinek’s Typology

 Jellinek’s classification of alcoholism, as outlined in The disease concept of alcoholism (1960).


  • alpha alcoholism –characterized


    • by psychological dependence, with no progression to physiological dependence; also called problem drinking, escape drinking.


  • beta alcoholism—


    • characterized by physical complications involving one or more organ systems,with a general undermining of health and shortened life span.


  • gamma


    • Anglo-Saxon” alcoholism.
      • alcoholism—characterized by increasing tolerance, loss of control, and precipitation of a withdrawal syndrome on cessation of alcohol intake; also called



  • delta alcoholism-characterized


    • by increasing tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and inability to abstain, but not loss of control of the amount of intake on any occasion.


  • epsilon alcoholism–


    paroxysmal or periodic drinking, binge drinking; sometimes referred to as dipsomania.


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