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usually claims to cure only about 2 per cent of the cases
of acute alcoholism it treats. Last week a non-medical group
appeared which made the unusual claim that 25 per cent of
its cases were cured. Called Alcoholics Anonymous, the group
was a club composed of ex-drunkards and men trying to overcome
the liquor habit who, for obvious reasons, prefer their
names to remain unknown. Not particularly anxious for publicity,
it nevertheless came into the limelight last Thursday evening
when John D. Rockefeller Jr. gave a dinner party for educators
and others interested in the club’s work.
organization has existed for more than four years; yet it
has spread its gospel only by word-of-mouth advertising
and a free book. It
with two members; today it has some- thing around 500. It
has no dues, but it does have a strict membership requirement:
an honest desire to stop drinking.
founder was a commercial traveler who found himself obsessed
with liquor and was unable to get cured at any of the sanitariums
he tried. Finally, though he was an agnostic, he turned
to what for want of a better name might be called faith.
Immediately he got help in the form of his own determination
to stop drinking; almost as soon, he was impelled to help
another drinker cure himself in the same manner.
these two men sprang the society and its three principles
of (1) telling another person--a friend, a member of the
group, perhaps even a priest, in the case of a Roman Catholic--of
the trouble that has turned him to drink, (2) resolving
to abstain henceforth; (3) helping others to abstain. In
short, members subordinate a desire for liquor for something
higher--call it God, Buddha, faith, self-determination,
or what you will.
the society has branches in Akron, Cleveland, Chicago, and
the New York metropolitan area. It meets in small groups
at various members’ houses and keeps the address of
its headquarters as secret as its -members’ names--giving
out only two post-office box numbers in New York, one for
general inquiries and the other for requests for its book.
Through the generosity of men who have conquered alcoholism
and of onlookers like Rockefeller, who does not drink but
is interested in movements to eradicate drunkenness, it
raises a budget for salaries of its directors and stenographers,
rent, and stationery.
Newsweek, February 19, 1940)