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IT STARTED AND GAINED SPEED
to Help Serious Alcoholics Originated In East;
by Man Who Was Incurable
(Third of Six Articles)
see hes back again. said the orderly to the
nurse as Mr. X for the umpsteenth time turned up in the
alcoholic division of a hospital in a larger Eastern city.
was a regular customer. But this time he came to grips with
himself on an idea brought by a friend. More ideas came
later. He examined and re-examined them. Already he had
given himself up to the fate of an incurable alcoholic,
in he had nothing to turn to more effective than he had
hospital care had knocked the booze out of his brain and
nerves, he immediately began to put his ideas into practice.
They worked. He stayed sober.
said the head of the hospital, he requested the privilege
of being allowed to tell his story to other patients here,
and with some misgiving we consented.
cases we have followed through have been most interesting;
in fact, many are amazing.
unselfishness of these men as we have come to know them,
the entire absence of profit motive, and their community
spirit, is indeed inspiring to one who has labored long
and wearily in this alcoholic field.
was Alcoholics Anonymous born about five years ago, out
of one victims desperation. Growing very slowly at
first, actually from man to man, centers of information
about it now are springing up in widely scattered areas
throughout the country.
the doctors comment you have the principle reason
for the ideas thus coming to nation-wide attention.
a man makes a spectacular come-back--a right-about-face
after having made an ass of himself for years--people ask
questions. They may be skeptical at first, but secretly
they are astonished, and curious.
the man thus set upon his feet cannot help being a kind
of missionary. But a missionary with what a difference!
What missionary to the savage was ever a savage? But
the messenger of Alcoholics Anonymous knows from his own
checkered experience all the tricks, all the curves in the
road, all the answers to the alcoholics self delusions.
the thing that sold me, finally. These rummies
knew their onions. They werent mealy mouthed. They
didnt lecture. When they talked to me, still unconvinced,
their faces, their lingo, their gestures, their
whole bearing, bespoke the onetime experienced toper.
were offering, not theory but fact. They acted as though
they had a sure thing. They merely wanted me to know about
it, what it had done for them.
It of Leave It
back now to four years ago. A man pacing the lobby of a
hotel in a strange city, He is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
has gone wrong with his business trip. Not only has he failed,
but he wonders how he is going to pay his hotel bill. The
deal that fell through has stirred up a bitter feeling in
has only been sober a few months. As he feels the temptation
of the inviting bar at the end of the lobby, he realizes
he join the gay crowd? Find release, scrape an acquaintance,
avoid a lonesome week-end?
he runs square up against one of the basic rules of the
fellowship. When tempted, it says, if possible work with
music and gay chatter in his ears, he turns and seeks the
lobby church directory. At random he selects the name of
a minister and telephones him. His talk leads him to a former
able and respected resident who is on the rocks from excessive
this man was reclaimed, how these two salvaged two others,
how in 18 months the number grew to 10, and how one couple
became so interested that they dedicated their home to the
work, is an absorbing story related in the book, Alcoholics
Anonymous, published by the fellowship.
this, more later; for the book, and the Alcoholic
Foundation, have been other notable steps in making
the message available to all.
only requirement for membership is the honest willingness
to do anything to quit drinking.
Fees, No Dues
are no fees, no dues. You need not buy the book if an alcoholic
cured by, and experienced in, the technique of Alcoholics
Anonymous will clearly give you an idea.
the personal work of one alcoholic with another, informal
meetings are arranged in each center as soon as a small
group can be formed.
never saw anything like them. Here centers the social life
of the group. Happiness, gaiety, good fellowship abound.
After the brief session devoted to the problems of alcoholics,
and the words of advice and encouragement and the interchange
of experiences, there may be a poker game, or several tables
birds dont turn sissy when they quit drinking. They
get back their real vitality. And the majority are clever,
able, once successful people. You see many business men,
doctors, lawyers, star salesmen, contractors, insurance
men, brokers, merchants, as well as the man whose field
is more limited.
gatherings present the vivid contrast of happy faces and
the strained, hungry faces of prospects hearing
about this for the first time.
members take away with them a glow they never got out of
the best bottle they ever tipped. And its there in
the morning--a hangover of relief, freedom, of strength
to hit the new days work and worry right on the button.
prospects take away at least the first thrill of wonder
and of hope. Is it strange that the group grows?
like Dr. Dilworth Lupton, widely known pastor of First Unitarian
Church in Cleveland, O., have personally investigated and
then devoted a whole sermon to the subject.
like The Houston Press have offered space.
nurses, psychiatrists, who have had personal experience
with alcoholics made well by this method, give it to other
alcoholics grab off prospects wherever they spy them, sometimes
right off the bar. Their telephones, when they ceased to
be anonymous, may ring at any hour of the night telling
of someone in desperate plight. They go. The movement spreads.
far, in two weeks I have been in Houston, I have yet to
find one person who heard me talk even most casually about
this, who hasnt said, either, Say, that sounds
like something; or, more often, I know a man
who needs it bad. Heres his name.
Anonymous is the most infectious idea I ever caught. I am
quite likely to give it to anyone I come in contact with,
for I take no precautions.
own experience well illustrates how the movement spreads.
I left Cleveland to come to Houston, for three weeks I had
been trying to straighten out a friend who was soused to
the gills, chiefly by drinking with him and trying to taper
him off, and either walking him home so he wouldnt
break his neck, or pouring him into a taxi.
wound up in a liquor cure institution. I visited him. By
that time, Alcoholics Anonymous had got hold of him.
told me about them. By accident or design--I never knew
which--I met two of them at his bedside one morning.
friend took to this thing and went to town. It had me thinking,
because he had been in terrible shape. He wasnt far
out of the port of last call.
wasnt long afterwards when, well in the bag,
I received a visit at my hotel from an Alcoholics Anonymous.
I had never even heard of him.
soap. No dice. Like the good doctor mentioned at the beginning
of this article, I wasnt interested.
problem was merely one of control. I wasnt an alcoholic
(so I thought). How did he get that way--telling me I was?
the bottle in my room was empty, he suggested that we adjourn
to the bar. We did. He drank coffee, bought whisky for me.
morning all I could clearly remember was that this perfect
stranger spent time and money on me to get me to quit drinking,
and I didnt know why. Nothing like this had ever happened
to me before. So when he telephoned the next evening asking
if he could come over, I said, Yes.
the time he got there, I was even further overseas
than at the time of his first visit. He urged patiently
that I should go to a hospital, rest up, eat again like
a human being, and think the thing out.
man had inhuman patience. He said he did this because he
liked to and because it helped him to stay sober. This was
in a cafe.
through a zero blizzard that night I finally let him drive
me 50 miles to a sanitarium approved by Alcoholics Anonymous,
and at 4 a. m., as he left me, after having talked with
me for eight hours without once doing the pleading act,
he saw me take my last drink.
And I mean last.
a week, sometimes as many as half a dozen members of Alcoholics
Anonymous visited me in the sanitarium every day. I regained
my poise. The fourth day I swallowed my pride and admitted
that although I might in all other things have equal omnipotence
with God Himself, in regard to drink I was licked before
began practicing the technique immediately. Then occurred
the change, to me still amazing.
then, when I decided to live in Houston, how could I help
spilling some of this stuff down here, where nobody seems
to know about it?
I be a heel if I kept such a priceless thing to myself?
you ever hear Freely ye have received, freely give?
Houston Press Index
Story of a Way
Out for Hopeless Drinkers
to Drink: Alcoholic's Burden
How it Started and Gained Speed
to Overcome Alcoholism
A New Approach
to Psychotherapy in Chronic Alcoholism