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These articles are reprinted from the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Elrick B. Davis Articles From The
Cleveland Plain Dealer
October - November 1939
articles appeared in the main Cleveland newspaper, the Plain
Dealer, just five months after the first A.A. group was
formed in Cleveland. The articles resulted in hundreds of
calls for help from suffering alcoholics who reached out
for the hope that the fledgling Alcoholics Anonymous offered.
The thirteen reliable members of the Cleveland group handled
as many as 500 calls (ref 1) in the first month following
the appearance of Davis' articles. The following year Cleveland
could boast 20 to 30 groups with hundreds of members (ref
Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, New York, A.A. World Services,
Inc., 1980, pp 206-207.
2. 'Pass It On', New York, A.A. World Services, Inc.,
1984, pp 224-225.
Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here
by ELRICK B. DAVIS
October 21, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
has been written about Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization
doing major work in reclaiming the habitual drinker. This
is the first of a series describing the work the group is
doing in Cleveland.
By now it is a rare Clevelander who does not know, or know
of, at least one man or woman of high talent whose drinking
had become a public scandal, and who suddenly has straightened
out "over night," as the saying goes-the liquor
habit licked. Men who have lost $15,000 a year jobs have
them back again. Drunks who have taken every "cure"
available to the most lavish purse, only to take them over
again with equally spectacular lack of success, suddenly
have become total abstainers, apparently without anything
to account for their reform. Yet something must account
for the seeming miracle. Something does.
Anonymous has reached the town.
Every Thursday evening at the home of some ex-drunk in Cleveland,
40 or 50 former hopeless rummies meet for a social evening
during which they buck each other up. Nearly every Saturday
evening they and their families have a party — just
as gay as any other party held that evening despite the
fact that there is nothing alcoholic to drink. From time
to time they have a picnic, where everyone has a roaring
good time without the aid of even one bottle of beer. Yet
these are men and women who, until recently, had scarcely
been sober a day for years, and members of their families
who all that time had been emotionally distraught, social
and economic victims of another's addition.
ex-rummies, as they call themselves, suddenly salvaged from
the most socially noisome of fates, are the members of the
Cleveland Fellowship of an informal society called "Alcoholics
Anonymous." Who they are cannot be told, because the
name means exactly what it says. But any incurable alcoholic
who really wants to be cured will find the members of the
Cleveland chapter eager to help.
society maintains a "blind" address: The Alcoholic
Foundation, Box 657, Church Street Annex Postoffice, New
York City. Inquiries made there are forwarded to a Cleveland
banker, who is head of the local Fellowship, or to a former
big league ball player who is recruiting officer of the
Akron Fellowship, which meets Wednesday evenings in a mansion
loaned for the purpose by a non-alcoholic supporter of the
The basic point about Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is
a fellowship of "cured" alcoholics. And that both
old-line medicine and modern psychiatry had agreed on the
one point that no alcoholic could be cured. Repeat the astounding
have cured each other.
have done it by adopting, with each other's aid, what they
call "a spiritual way of life."
alcoholism is not a moral vice. It is a disease. No dipsomaniac
drinks because he wants to. He drinks because he can't help
will drink when he had rather die than take a drink. That
is why so many alcoholics die as suicides. He will get drunk
on the way home from the hospital or sanitarium that has
just discharged him as "cured." He will get drunk
at the wake of a friend who died of drink. He will swear
off for a year, and suddenly find himself half-seas over,
well into another "bust." He will get drunk at
the gates of an insane asylum where he has just visited
an old friend, hopeless victim of "wet brain."
These are the alcoholics that "Alcoholics Anonymous"
cures. Cure is impossible until the victim is convinced
that nothing that he or a "cure" hospital can
do, can help. He must know that his disease is fatal. He
must be convinced that he is hopelessly sick of body, and
of mind — and of soul. He must be eager to accept
help from any source — even God.
Anonymous has a simple explanation for an alcoholic's physical
disease. It was provided them by the head of one of New
York City's oldest and most famous "cure" sanitariums.
The alcoholic is allergic to alcohol. One drink sets up
a poisonous craving that only more of the poison can assuage.
That is why after the first drink the alcoholic cannot stop.
have a psychiatric theory equally simple and convincing.
Only an alcoholic can understand another alcoholic's mental
processes and state. And they have an equally simple, if
unorthodox, conception of God.
Alcoholics Anonymous Makes
Its Stand Here
ELRICK B. DAVIS
October 23, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
a previous installment, Mr. Davis outlined the plan of Alcoholics
Anonymous, an organization of former drinkers who have found
a solution to liquor in association for mutual aid. This
is the second of a series.
is no blinking the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous, the amazing
society of ex-drunks who have cured each other of an incurable
disease, is religious. Its members have cured each other
frankly with the help of God. Every cured member of the
Cleveland Fellowship of the society, like every cured member
of the other chapters now established in Akron, New York,
and elsewhere in the country, is cured with the admission
that he submitted his plight wholeheartedly to a Power Greater
has admitted his conviction that science cannot cure him,
that he cannot control his pathological craving for alcohol
himself, and that he cannot be cured by the prayers, threats,
or pleas of his family, employers, or friends. His cure
is a religious experience. He had to have God's aid. He
had to submit to a spiritual housecleaning.
Anonymous is a completely informal society, wholly latitudinarian
in every respect but one. It prescribes a simple spiritual
discipline, which must be followed rigidly every day. The
discipline is fully explained in a book published by the
is what makes the notion of the cure hard for the usual
alcoholic to take, at first glance, no matter how complete
his despair. He wants to join no cult. He has lost faith,
if he ever had it, in the power of religion to help him.
But each of the cures accomplished by Alcoholics Anonymous
is a spiritual awakening. The ex-drunk has adopted what
the society calls "a spiritual way of life."
then, does Alcoholics Anonymous differ from the other great
religious movements which have changed social history in
America? Wherein does the yielding to God that saves a member
of this society from his fatal disease, differ from that
which brought the Great Awakening that Jonathan Edwards
preached, or the New Light revival of a century ago, or
the flowering of Christian Science, or the campmeeting evangelism
of the old Kentucky-Ohio frontier, or the Oxford Group successes
member of Alcoholics Anonymous may define God to suit himself.
God to him may be the Christian God defined by the Thomism
of the Roman Catholic Church. Or the stern Father of the
Calvinist. Or the Great Manitou of the American Indian.
Or the Implicit Good assumed in the logical morality of
Confucius. Or Allah, or Buddha, or the Jehovah of the Jews.
Or Christ the Scientist. Or no more than the Kindly Spirit
implicitly assumed in the "atheism" of a Col.
the alcoholic who comes to the fellowship for help believes
in God, in the specific way of any religion or sect, the
job of cure is easier. But if all that the pathological
drunk can do is to say, with honesty, in his heart: "Supreme
Something, I am done for without more-than-human help,"
that is enough for Alcoholics Anonymous to work on. The
noble prayers, the great literatures, and the time-proved
disciplines of the established religions are a great help.
But as far as the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous is
concerned, a pathological drunk can call God "It"
if he wants to, and is willing to accept Its aid. If he'll
do that, he can be cured.
of "incurable" alcoholics who now, cured, are
members of the Cleveland Fellowship of the society, shows
that this has made literally life-saving religious experience
possible to men and women who, otherwise, could not have
accepted spiritual help. Poll shows also that collectively
their religious experience has covered every variety known
to religious psychology. Some have had an experience as
blindingly bright as that which struck down Saul on the
road to Damascus. Some are not even yet intellectually convinced
except to the degree that they see that living their lives
on a spiritual basis has cured them of a fatal disease.
Drunk for years because they couldn't help it, now it never
occurs to them to want a drink. Whatever accounts for that,
they are willing to call "God."
find more help in formal religion than do others. A good
many of the Akron chapter find help in the practices of
the Oxford Group. The Cleveland chapter includes a number
of Catholics and several Jews, and at least one man to whom
"God" is "Nature." Some practice family
devotions. Some simply cogitate about "It" in
the silence of their minds. But that the Great Healer cured
them with only the help of their fellow ex-drunks, they
Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here
by ELRICK B. DAVIS
October 24, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
two previous articles, Mr. Davis told of Alcoholics Anonymous,
an organization of former drinkers, banded to overcome their
craving for liquor and to help others to forego the habit.
This is the third of a series.
ex-drunks cured of their medically incurable alcoholism
by membership in Alcoholic Anonymous, know that the way
to keep themselves from backsliding is to find another pathological
alcoholic to help. Or to start a new man toward cure. That
is the way that the Akron chapter of the society, and from
that, the Cleveland fellowship was begun.
of the earliest of the cured rummies had talked a New York
securities house into taking a chance that he was really
through with liquor. He was commissioned to do a stock promotion
chore in Akron. If he should succeed, his economic troubles
also would be cured. Years of alcoholism had left him bankrupt
as well as a physical and social wreck before Alcoholics
Anonymous had saved him.
Akron project failed. Here he was on a Saturday afternoon
in a strange hotel in a town where he did not know a soul,
business hopes blasted, and with scarcely money enough to
get him back to New York with a report that would leave
him without the last job he knew of for him in the world.
If ever disappointment deserved drowning, that seemed the
time. A bunch of happy folk were being gay at the bar.
the other end of the lobby the Akron church directory was
framed in glass. He looked up the name of a clergyman. The
cleric told him of a woman who was worried about a physician
who was a nightly solitary drunk. The doctor had been trying
to break himself of alcoholism for twenty years. He had
tried all of the dodges: Never anything but light wines
or beer; never a drink alone; never a drink before his work
was done; a certain few number of drinks and then stop;
never drink in a strange place; never drink in a familiar
place; never mix the drinks; always mix the drinks; never
drink before eating; drink only while eating; drink and
then eat heavily to stop the craving — and all of
alcoholic knows all of the dodges. Every alcoholic has tried
them all. That is why an uncured alcoholic thinks someone
must have been following him around to learn his private
self-invented devices, when a member of Alcoholics Anonymous
talks to him. Time comes when any alcoholic has tried them
all, and found that none of them work.
doctor had just taken his first evening drink when the rubber
baron's wife telephoned to ask him to come to her house
to meet a friend from New York. He dared not, his wife would
not, offend her by refusing. He agreed to go on his wife's
promise that they would leave after 15 minutes. His evening
jitters were pretty bad.
met the New Yorker at 5 o'clock. They talked until 11:15.
After that he stayed "dry" for three weeks. Then
he went to a convention in Atlantic City. That was a bender.
The cured New Yorker was at his bedside when he came to.
That was June 10, 1935. The doctor hasn't had a drink since.
Every Akron and Cleveland cure by Alcoholics Anonymous is
point the society illustrates by that bit of history is
that only an alcoholic can talk turkey to an alcoholic.
The doctor knew all of the "medicine" of his disease.
He knew all of the psychiatry. One of his patients had "taken
the cure" 72 times. Now he is cured, by fellowship
in Alcoholics Anonymous. Orthodox science left the physician
licked. He also knew all of the excuses, as well as the
dodges, and the deep and fatal shame that makes a true alcoholic
sure at last that he can't win. Alcoholic death or the bughouse
will get him in time.
cured member of Alcoholics Anonymous likes to catch a prospective
member when he is at the bottom of the depths. When he wakes
up of a morning with his first clear thought regret that
he is not dead before he hears where he has been and what
he has done. When he whispers to himself: "Am I crazy?"
and the only answer he can think of is: "Yes."
Even when the bright-eyed green snakes are crawling up his
the pathological drinker is willing to talk. Even eager
to talk to someone who really understands, from experience,
what he means when he says: "I can't understand myself."
Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here
by ELRICK B. DAVIS
October 25, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
three previous articles, Mr. Davis has told of Alcoholics
Anonymous, an organization of former drinkers banded to
break the liquor habit and to save others from over drinking.
This is the fourth of a series.
What gets the pathological drinker who finally has reached
such state that he is willing to listen to a cured rummy
member of Alcoholics Anonymous, is that the retrieved alcoholic
not only understands what only another alcoholic can understand,
but a great deal that the unreformed drunk thinks no one
else could know because he has never told anyone, and his
difficulties or escapades must be private to his own history.
is the history of all alcoholics is the same; some have
been addicts longer than others, and some have painted brighter
red patches around the town — that is all. What they
have heard in the "cure" hospitals they have frequented,
or from the psychoanalysts they have consulted, or the physicians
who have tapered them off one bender or another at home,
has convinced them that alcoholism is a disease. But they
are sure (a) that their version of the disease differs from
everyone else's and (b) that in them it hasn't reached the
incurable stage anyway.
of the "cure" told them: "If you ever take
another drink, you'll be back." Psychoanalyst said
"Psychologically, you have never been weaned. Your
subconscious is still trying to get even with your mother
for some forgotten slight." Family or hotel physician
said "If you don't quite drinking, you'll die."
Lawyers, ministers, business partners and employers, parents
and wives, also are professionally dedicated to listening
to confidences and accepting confessions without undue complaint.
But the clergyman may say: "Your drinking is a sin."
And partner or employer: "You'll have to quit this
monkey business or get out." And wife or parent: "This
drinking is breaking my heart." And everyone: "Why
don't you exercise some will power and straighten up and
be a man."
the alcoholic whispers in his heart. "No one but I
can know that I must drink to kill suffering too great to
presents his excuses to the retrieved alcoholic who has
come to talk. Can't sleep without liquor. Worry. Business
troubles. Debt. Alimentary pains. Overwork. Nerves too high
strung. Grief. Disappointment. Deep dark phobic fears. Fatigue.
Family difficulties. Loneliness.
catalog has got no farther than that when the member of
Alcoholics Anonymous begins rattling off an additional list.
he says. "Don't try those alibis on me. I have used
them all myself."
And then he tells his own alcoholic history, certainly as
bad, perhaps far worse than the uncured rummy's. They match
experiences. Before he knows it the prospect for cure has
told his new friend things he had never admitted even to
himself. A rough and ready psychiatry, that, but it works,
as the cured members of the Cleveland Chapter of Alcoholics
Anonymous all are restored to society to testify. And that
is the reason for the fellowship's weekly gatherings. They
are testimonial meetings. The members meet to find new victims
to cure, and to buck each other up. For years their social
and emotional life has all been elbow-bending. Now they
provide each other a richer society to replace the old.
Hence, the fellowship's family parties and picnics.
for a moment do they forget that a practicing alcoholic
is a very sick person. Never for a moment can they forget
that even medical men who know the nature of the disease
are apt to feel that failure to recover is a proof of moral
perversity in the patient. If a man is dying of cancer,
no one says: "Why doesn't he exercise some will power
and kill that cancer off." If he is coughing his lungs
out with tuberculosis, no one says: "Buck up and quit
coughing; be a man." They may say to the first: "Submit
to surgery before it is too late;" to the second: "Take
a cure before you are dead."
Retrieved alcoholics talk in that fashion to their uncured
fellows. They say: "You are a very sick man. Physically
sick — you have an allergy to alcohol. We can put
you in a hospital that will sweat that poison out. Mentally
sick. We know how to cure that. And spiritually sick.
cure your spiritual illness you will have to admit God.
Name your own God, or define Him to suit yourself. But if
you are really willing to 'do anything' to get well, and
if it is really true — and we know it is — that
you drink when you don't want to and that you don't know
why you get drunk, you'll have to quit lying to yourself
and adopt a spiritual way of life. Are you ready to accept
the miracle is that, for alcoholics brought to agreement
by pure desperation, so simple a scheme works.
alone has 50 alcoholics, all former notorious drunks, now
members of Alcoholics Anonymous to prove it. None is a fanatic
prohibitionist. None has a quarrel with liquor legitimately
used by people physically, nervously, and spiritually equipped
to use it. They simply know that alcoholics can't drink
and live, and that their "incurable" disease has
Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here
by ELRICK B. DAVIS
October 26, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
previous installments, Mr. Davis has told of Alcoholics
Anonymous, an informal society of drinking men who have
joined together to beat the liquor habit This is the last
of five articles.
It is hard for the skeptical to believe that no one yet
has found a way to muscle into Alcoholics Anonymous, the
informal society of ex-drunks that exists only to cure each
other, and make a money-making scheme of it. Or that someone
will not. The complete informality of the society seems
to be what has saved it from that. Members pay no dues.
The society has no paid staff. Parties are "Dutch."
Meetings are held at the homes of members who have houses
large enough for such gatherings, or in homes of persons
who may not be alcoholics but are sympathetic with the movement.
a drunk needs hospitalization at the time that he is caught
to cure. He is required to pay for that himself. Doubtless
he hasn't the money. But probably his family has. Or his
employer will advance the money to save him, against his
future pay. Or cured members of the society will help him
arrange credit, if he has a glimmer of credit left. Or old
friends will help.
the moment members of the Cleveland Fellowship of Alcoholics
Anonymous are searching the slum lodging houses to find
a man, once eminent in the city's professional life. A medical
friend of his better days called them in to find him. This
friend will pay the hospital bill necessary to return this
victim of an "incurable" craving for drink to
physical health, if the society will take him on.
society has published a book, called "Alcoholics Anonymous,"
which it sells at $3.50. It may be ordered from an anonymous
address, Works Publishing Co., Box 657, Church Street Annex
Postoffice, New York City; or bought from the Cleveland
Fellowship of the society. There is no money profit for
anyone in that book.
recites the history of the society and lays down its principles
in its first half. Last half is case histories of representative
cures out of the first hundred alcoholics cured by membership
in the society. It was written and compiled by the New York
member who brought the society to Ohio. He raised the money
on his personal credit to have the book published. He would
like to see those creditors repaid. It is a 400-page book,
for which any regular publisher would charge the same price.
Copies bought from local Fellowships net the local chapters
a dollar each.
Rev. Dr. Dilworth Lupton, pastor of the First Unitarian
Church of Cleveland, found in a religious journal an enthusiastic
review of the book by the Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick, and
sent it to the president of the local Fellowship. It has
been similarly noted in some medical journals.
To handle the money that comes in for the book, and occasional
gifts from persons interested in helping ex-drunks to cure
other "incurable" drunks, the Alcoholics Foundation
has been established, with a board of seven directors.
of these are members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Four are not
alcoholics, but New Yorkers of standing interested in humane
movements. Two of them happen also to be associated with
the Rockefeller Foundation, but that does not associate
the two foundations in any way.
problem of the Cleveland Fellowship was to find a hospital
willing to take a drunk in and give him the medical attention
first necessary to any cure. Two reasons made that hard.
Hospitals do not like to have alcoholics as patients; they
are nuisances. And the society requires that as soon as
a drunk has been medicated into such shape that he can see
visitors, members of the society must be permitted to see
him at any time. That has been arranged. The local society
would like to have a kitty of $100 to post with the hospital
as evidence of good faith. But if it gets it, it will only
be from voluntary contributions of members.
the members, having financed their own cures, spend enormous
amounts of time and not a little money in helping new members.
Psychiatrists say that if an alcoholic is to be cured, he
needs a hobby. His old hobby had been only alcohol. Hobby
of Alcoholics Anonymous is curing each other. Telephone
calls, postage and stationery, gasoline bills, mount up
for each individual. And hospitality to new members. A rule
of the society is that each member's latch string is always
out to any other member who needs talk or quiet, which may
include a bed or a meal, at any time.
NOTED DIVINE REVIEWS "ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS"
by ELRICK B. DAVIS
November 2, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
a recent series, Mr. Davis told of Alcoholics Anonymous,
an organization of former drinkers banded together to beat
the liquor habit. This is the first of two final articles
on the subject.
When 100 members of Alcoholics Anonymous, the extraordinary
fellowship of men and women who have cured themselves of
"incurable" alcoholism by curing each other and
adopting a "spiritual way of life," had established
their cures to the satisfaction of their physicians, families,
employers and psychotherapists, they published a book.
is a 400-page volume of which half is a history of the movement
and a description of its methods, and the other half a collection
of 30 case histories designed to show what a wide variety
of persons the fellowship has cured. It is called "Alcoholics
Anonymous," and may be bought for $3.50 from the Works
Publishing Co., Box 657, Church Street Annex Postoffice,
name of the publisher is that adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous
for its only publishing venture. The address is "blind"
because the name "Alcoholics Anonymous" means
exactly what it says. The price of the book is "cost,"
50 cents a volume less than one of the country's soundest
old-line book publishers would have charged if the fellowship
had accepted that house's offer to publish the book and
pay the society 40 cents a copy royalty on sales.
the first reviews of the book to see print was that written
by the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick for the Religious
Digest. That review so attracted at least one well-known
Cleveland minister that he obtained a copy of the book,
got in touch with the Cleveland chapter of the society,
and plans to preach a sermon about the movement.
Fosdick is himself the author of seventeen books. His review
of "Alcoholics Anonymous" follows:
extraordinary book deserves the careful attention of anyone
interested in the problem of alcoholism. Whether as victims,
friends of victims, physicians, clergymen, psychiatrists
or social workers there are many such, and this book will
give them, as no other treatise known to this reviewer will,
an inside view of the problem which the alcoholic faces.
Gothic cathedral windows are not the sole things which can
be truly seen only from within. Alcoholism is another. All
outside views are clouded and unsure. Only one who has been
a alcoholic and has escaped the thraldom can interpret the
"This book represents the pooled experience of 100
men and women who have been victims of alcoholism-and who
have won their freedom and recovered their sanity and self-control.
their stories are detailed and circumstantial, packed with
human interest. In America today the disease of alcoholism
is increasing. Liquor has been an easy escape from depression.
As an English officer in India, reproved for his excessive
drinking, lifted his glass and said, "This is the swiftest
road out of India," so many Americans have been using
hard liquor as a means of flight from their troubles until
to their dismay they discover that, free to begin, they
are not free to stop. One hundred men and women, in this
volume, report their experience of enslavement and then
book is not in the least sensational. It is notable for
its sanity, restraint and freedom from over-emphasis and
group sponsoring this book began with two or three ex-alcoholics,
who discovered one another through kindred experience. From
this a movement started; ex-alcoholics working for alcoholics,
without fanfare or advertisement, and the movement has spread
from one city to another.
core of their whole procedure is religious. They are convinced
that for the helpless alcoholic there is only one way out-the
expulsion of his obsession by a Power Greater Than Himself.
Let it be said at once that there is nothing partisan or
sectarian about this religious experience. Agnostics and
atheists, along with Catholics, Jews and Protestants, tell
their story of discovering the Power Greater Than themselves.
'Who are you to say that there is no God,' one atheist in
the group heard a voice say when, hospitalized for alcoholism,
he faced the utter hopelessness of his condition. Nowhere
is the tolerance and open-mindedness of the book more evident
than in its treatment of this central matter on which the
cure of all these men and women has depended. They are not
partisans of any particular form of organized religion,
although they strongly recommend that some religious fellowship
be found by their participants. By religion they mean an
experience which they personally know and which has saved
them from their slavery, when psychiatry and medicine had
failed. They agree that each man must have his own way of
conceiving God, but of God Himself they are utterly sure,
and their stories of victory in consequence are a notable
addition to William James' 'Varieties of Religious Experience.'"
PHYSICIAN LOOKS UPON ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
by ELRICK B. DAVIS
November 4, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
The first appraisal in a scientific journal of Alcoholics
Anonymous, former drunkards who cure themselves by curing
each other with the help of religious experience, was published
in the July issue of the journal Lancet. It was "A
New Approach to Psychotherapy [in] Chronic Alcoholism.:
by W. D. Silkworth, M.D. physician in charge, Chas B. Town's
Hospital, New York City. A drunkard during a moment of [deep]
depression had the spontaneous "religious experience"
which started his cure. This was the seed from which came
Alcoholics Anonymous. Dr. silkworth was at first skeptical.
He is no longer. Excerpts from his paper follow:
beginning and subsequent development of a new approach to
the problem of permanent recovery for the chronic alcoholic
has already produced remarkable results and promises much
for the future. This statement is based upon four years
of close observation. the principal answer is: Each ex-alcoholic
has had and is able to maintain, a vital spiritual or 'religious'
experience, accompanied by marked changes of personality.
There is a radical change in outlook, attitude and habits
of thought. In nearly all cases, these are evident within
a few months, often less.
conscious search of these ex-alcoholics for the right answer
has enabled them to find an approach effectual in something
more than half of all cases. This is truly remarkable when
it is remembered that most of them were undoubtedly beyond
the reach of other remedial measures.
"Considering the presence of the religious factor,
one might expect to find unhealthy emotionalism and prejudice.
On the contrary, there is an instant readiness to discard
old methods for new which produce better results. It was
early found that usually the weakest approach to an alcoholic
is directly through his family or friends, especially if
the patient is drinking heavily. Ex-alcoholics frequently
insist a physician take the patient in hand, placing him
in a hospital when possible. If proper hospitalization and
medical care is not carried out, this patient faces the
danger of delirium tremens, 'wet brain' or other complications.
After a few days' stay, the physician brings up the question
of permanent sobriety. If the patient is interested, he
tactfully introduces a member of the group. By this time
the prospect has self-control, can think straight, and the
approach can be made casually. More than half the fellowship
have been so treated. The group is unanimous in its belief
that hospitalization is desirable, even imperative, in most
effort is made for frank discussion with the patient, leading
to self-understanding. He must make the necessary readjustment
to his environment. Co-operation and confidence must be
secured. The objectives are to bring about extraversion
and provide someone to whom he can transfer his dilemma.
This group is now attaining this because of the following
of their alcoholic experiences and successful recoveries
they secure a high degree of confidence from their prospects.
of this initial confidence, identical experiences, and
the fact that the discussion is pitched on moral and
religious grounds, the patient tells his story and makes
his self-appraisal with extreme thoroughness and honesty.
He stops living alone and finds himself within reach
of a fellowship with whom he can discuss his problems
as they arise.
of the ex-alcoholic brotherhood, the patient too, is
able to save other alcoholics from destruction. At one
and the same time, the patient acquires an ideal, a
hobby, a strenuous avocation, and a social life which
he enjoys among other ex-alcoholics and their families.
These factors make powerfully for his extraversion.
of objects aplenty in whom he can vest his confidence,
the patient can turn to the individuals to whom he first
gave his confidence, the ex-alcoholic group as a whole,
or to the Deity.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer October - November 1939)