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as to the "success secret" of Alcoholics Anonymous
in helping its 50,000 members, is given in a quote from
one of its new members: "I had a lot of doubts when
I joined the group at Riker's [penitentiary]. . ..I didn't
know how to figure these outside A.A.'s who came in once
a week to talk to us...When they began to talk about getting
drunk as being a symptom rather than a cause, I perked up
my ears. But when they came right out and admitted that
they, too, had pulled time in jails...1 began to take a
serious interest...When I came into this clubhouse, nobody
asked me a lot of embarrassing questions...They just seemed
like real friendly guys."
revealing remarks are quoted in a vivid article in the January-March
issue of Federal Probation, "I Think You Guys Mean
It," written anonymously by another member of the organization
who is a lawyer and the editor of a national magazine, as
well as editor of The Grapevine, the A.A.'s own publication.
The article describes the A.A. program for probationers,
prison inmates and parolees who are problem drinkers. A.A.
chapters have been established in more than thirty penal
and correctional institutions. Meeting once a week in groups
of thirty or forty, under the supervision of prison authorities
and chapter members, inmates hear talks by visiting A.A.
members, and are encouraged to ask questions, make suggestions,
and join in the discussion. New members are carefully screened
to make sure of their sincere desire to stop drinking.
A.A.'s work with alcoholic probationers, the prisoner is
placed on probation to an A.A. "sponsor," who
is responsible for his supervision. The sponsor introduces
him to a local A.A. clubhouse, and goes with him to regular
meetings. The new member is made to feel that he "belongs"
to the group and is "one of the family."
in its thirteenth year, A.A. has 1,200 chapters including
outposts in Canada and Latin America, and is winning about
1,000 new members a month, according to the February issue
of Time. Supported by donations from members, it has no
offices, no dues, no big funds. Members are pledged to help
all other alcoholics, but give assistance only when called
upon. Anonymity is an important rule of the organization,
in order that new members may be encouraged to join.
its members, some 50 per cent have stopped drinking entirely
after joining, 25 per cent have succeeded after one or two
slips. By contrast, all but 5 per cent of alcoholics were
formerly considered hopeless of cure, according to the Time
news for the nations alcoholics, who now number an estimated
750,000, is the success of the Yale Plan Clinic at Yale
University. Eighty percent of those who continue through
the full period of treatment at the clinic recover, Dr.
Howard W. Haggard, Yale physiologist, declared recently
in an address before the Washington Committee for Education
clinic is operated on an out-patient basis, with a small
staff consisting of a psychiatrist, a social worker, a secretary,
and a part time physician. Hospital facilities of near-by
hospitals are utilized when necessary.
small cost of the treatment given at this clinic - averaging
$68 a case - is stressed in an article in Wisconsin Welfare,
written in support of this type of care. By contrast, the
article points to the high costs of the usual method of
dealing with alcoholics, citing a study by William Oldigs,
chief probation officer of Milwaukee County. The study found
that a major percentage of the inmates of the county House
of Correction were excessive drinkers.
actual cost of keeping an alcoholic at the House of Correction
for ninety days was computed at $218.51, and of keeping
a family of four on relief during the period, at $380.85
- an average of $599.36 per case.
states have set up commissions to study the problem of alcoholism,
reports the American Journal of Public Health. In six other
states, proposals are under way to set up commissions or
other programs for the study of this disease.
local citizen committees have been formed in eleven states
and Washington, D.C. to educate the public in understanding
alcoholism as a public health problem, the National Committee
for Education on Alcoholism announced recently.
SURVEY MIDMONTHLY, Vol. 83, June 1947)