THE THIRTEENTH STEP
by Jules Griffon
Psychiatric researchers now say a drunk can drink again – without going back to the gutter
Can the “cured” alcoholic ever safely touch another drink? Can the confirmed boozer ever hope to taper off to ordinary social drinking? Is a “Thirteenth Step” possible for the “arrested” rum-hound? Or is the gloomy prospect of total abstinence the only salvation for the lush? Is alcoholism a real physical allergy, and does that one first drink inevitably have to trigger a chain reaction in the serious tippler?
Don’t answer that. You may be wrong. The men in the white coats have been working on this problem, which is admittedly a crucial, possibly life-and-death question for several million drinking Americans – and they believe they have finally come up with some answers.
With all due respect to Alcoholics Anonymous, the WCTU and other dedicated abstinence groups, the latest psychiatric research definitely does offer hope that the wino who succeeds in picking himself up from Skid Row can once again enjoy a few cocktails at the Ritz, or even go on a Saturday night binge, without necessarily landing right back in the gutter.
However, if you’re a booze-fighter and you have been winning your battle, you’d better read the rest of this article bounding gleefully off to the corner grog shop…
To drink or not to drink is a question that has plagued mankind ever happier glow from drinking fermented apple juice, and get in less trouble than he had by nibbling at the raw fruit that Eve insisted he try.
All sorts of people, from philosophers to stew-bums, have argued both sides of the alcohol question since the dawn of civilization. One can cite volumes of authoritative opinions to support either view, pro or con. Even the Bible doesn’t give much help. Take your choice:
|Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging.
|-Proverbs XX., 1
Drink no longer water, but use as a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
-I Timothy v., 23
|Woe to them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink.
- Isaiah v., 11
|Drink thy wine with a merry heart.
- Ecclesiastes ii,13
Today, in the light of modern science plus the accumulated wisdom of the ages, we know a lot more about alcohol and human nature than did Adam and his immediate descendants. But despite the millions of dollars and the millions of laboratory man-hours spent on research, the basic cause and cure of what we call alcoholism are still no more known than those of the common cold. Learned authorities can’t even agree on whether it’s a disease or a state of mind.
We drinkers have enjoyed a brief respite from the pointing finger, since the Demon Cigarette has taken the spotlight away from poor old John Barleycorn as the nation’s Number One health menace.
But the hard fact remains that some 19.5 million American males and females, or about 10 per cent of the total population, are what the medicos politely call alcohol-dependent-and five per cent, or about 9.7 millions are real bottle-nursing alcoholics. That’s a lot of lushes, brother! We spend from 11 to 12 billion dollars annually on alcohol, and its consumption is constantly on the increase. The alcoholic population of New York State, to take just one example, is growing by 20,000 annually.
Spurred by statistics on the dangerous upcurve of alcoholism and its attendant evils of broken lives, broken homes, lost jobs, lost work-hours, crime, traffic fatalities and all the rest, more and more attention is being paid of late to finding ways and means to stamp out or at least cut down this ancient and costly social blight.
Fortunately, we’ve advanced quite a way and become a bit more mature since the naïve days of little more than a generation ago, when the tragic Volstead Act was voted into law with the starry-eyed idea that National Prohibition, the “noble experiment” that fizzled, would be the cure-all for drunkenness.
We’ve also progressed a mite since the times of the fire-and-brimstone temperance crusaders, when Carrie Nation, the terror of bartenders in the Gay Nineties, used to smash up saloons with an axe.
Today’s more enlightened reformers, by and large, no longer insist on throwing out the baby with the bath water. From banning all booze at the source, the emphasis has shifted toward eradicating the abuse of the right to drink. The spotlight is on treating and trying to cure the individual “alcoholic,” and the immediate tactical target is to find out just what makes him tick.
State, federal and local government health and welfare agencies, big private foundations, universities, medical and sociological research groups, and nationwide industries-including even a segment of the liquor industry-have teamed up in a concerted and determined drive on alcoholism. The current campaign is sparked not by moral ideals but by the cold, businesslike realization that there is simply no place nor time for the bumbling drunkard in today’s stepped-up Space Age economy. He costs society too much. He can no longer be coddled. He has to go.
The California State Legislature at this writing is near final passage of a bill greatly expanding and reorganizing the state’s Alcoholic Rehabilitation Program. The McTeer Bill, considered a model for other states, sets up a special Division of Alcoholism under the Department of Public Health, and provides increased state financial support for locally-operated alcoholic clinics. The long range plan contemplates “comprehensive and integrated local programs, subject to State Health Department approval, for the prevention, treatment and control of alcoholism.”
Research labs are probing deeply into the problem of the problem drinker. Not long ago, University of California scientists spent 14 adventurous days pouring large quantities of vodka down the not unreceptive gullets of two “volunteers,” recruited through an employment office with the guarantee that they were 100-proof alcoholics. EEG recordings of the subject’s brain-waves, while apparently in a drunken stupor, showed that behind their closed eyelids, their brains were “teeming with ideational activity”-the antithesis of the supposed sedative effect of alcohol.
A research team in the VA’s psychopharmacology Research Lab at Sepulveda, California, recently used 70 stray cats in an experiment to determine the effects of alcohol on different personality types. Both the “anxious-withdrawn” and the “out-going-aggressive” types of kitties were quickly put to sleep by a moderate dose of grog, while the felines classified as “normal” stayed perfectly alert on the same amount, and “often seemed to take more interest in their surroundings.”
Similar studies are going on all over the country-notably at Rutgers, Yale, and several other universities. It was recently proposed that the federal government should put a special bottle tax on liquor, the revenue to be earmarked for "organized research on alcoholism including all its aspects.”
Amid all this furor of concern over the Anti-Social Behavior of the American Drunk, and the conflicting theories on the nature of “alcoholism” itself, one constant factor has come into more and more prominence in the past decade or so; the phenomenal success of Alcoholics Anonymous in rehabilitating thousands of men and women who had been given up as hopeless.
Started in Akron, Ohio, in 1935 by a New York stockbroker and an Akron physician who had lick his own drinking problems by achieving a spiritual rebirth, AA now numbers more than 300,000 members through-out the world. As of 1963, there were over 10,000 local AA groups in 80 countries-most of them, of course, in the U.S.
A.A. is described as “a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other, that they may solve their common problems and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. The primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.”
While it includes members of all religions and many of no religion at all, AA’s basic concept is a religious one in the broadest sense. The alcoholic, according to the AA book, must start with the First Step: admitting that he is “powerless over alcohol, that his life has become unmanageable.” Secondly, he must come to the belief that only “a Power greater than himself” can “restore him to sanity.”
If the would-be AA doesn’t sincerely feel these convictions deep down inside, he is fooling nobody but himself; he has little hope of advancing to the Twelfth and final Step, which is: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
AA’s spectacular success in weaning several hundred thousand lushes away from the bottle and returning them to normal productive lives is a fact that can’t be disputed. Admittedly neither medicine, psychology, nor organized religion can boast anywhere near such a record.
However, another indisputable fact is that a great many more thousands of drinking people, even though they realize their problems and seek help, shy away from AA because of its “cold turkey” insistence on total abstinence, on complete surrender of one’s former bibulous ways. This is basic with AA; it’s a foregone conclusion that you can’t hope to follow the program and are wasting your time, unless you give up drinking entirely, for good and all.
And now, to further complicate the picture, comes a scholarly team of top-level psychiatric researchers from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, with the news that their study definitely shows that some alcoholics can be cured – rather than merely “arrested” – which is all that AA claims to do. In other words, there is a “Thirteenth Step.”
The quasi-mystical belief that no recovered alcoholic can ever again take a drink safely without hitting skids was challenged by Drs. E. Mansell Pattison, E.B. Headley, L.A. Gottschalk and G.C. Gleser, in a report presented to the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New York a few months ago. (The first three named are MD’s the fourth a Ph.d. Dr. Pattison who read the report, is now a Research Fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington).
Their block-busting research paper, modestly entitled The Relation of Drinking Patterns to Over-all Health in Successfully Treated Alcoholics, was based on a painstaking and thorough fellowship study of 32 patients at the Alcoholism Clinic, Division of Mental Health, Cincinnati Health Department. The implication, of course, is that the 32 men picked at random for study are typical of many thousands more, both men and women.
“An untested assumption,” the doctors said in their preamble, “is that the successfully rehabilitated alcoholic can never drink again, and that he is not successfully rehabilitated if he is still using alcohol. A clinical report by Davies in 1962 on the return to normal drinking by eight addictive alcoholics was followed by a furor of published protests of disbelief.
“Subsequently Pattison reviewed the evaluative literature on alcoholism treatment and found seven clinical reports which described groups of treated alcoholics who had returned to some degree of successful drinking.
“In light of these clinical findings, this study was designed to test the hypothesis that successfully treated alcoholics who engage in non-pathological drinking are as healthy mentally, socially, vocationally, and physically, as abstinent ex-alcoholics.”
Note that the report deals with “non-path-ological” drinking. This means that ex-patients who returned to compulsive drinking, or got into self-destructive predicaments again by their drinking, were not counted as “successes.”
The sampling on which the study was based consisted of 32 male alcoholics discharged as “improved” from the Cincinnati Alcoholism Clinic during 1962-63; all these patients were seen for 10 or more psychotherapy sessions and had been discharged at least one year.
(The sample was drawn from a total of 252 discharged patients. Not included were patients discharged from treatment less than one year before the follow-up study – because checkups had indicated that “the probability of loss of abstinence is highest during the first six months after discharge, and that after the first year, adjustment appears fairly stabilized.”)
Complicated scales were set up to assess the various aspects of physical health, interpersonal health, and vocational health, from interview data; a “drinking scale score” was devised to reflect drinking quantity, behavior, and consequences. As the study progressed, the following sample was divided into three groups: abstinent, normal drinkers, and pathological drinkers. Some improvement was found in all three groups; the abstinent and the normal drinkers naturally had improved more than those who had returned to pathological tippling.
From the mass of data accumulated, the following case reports, among others, were cited as typical of patients who had returned to normal drinking:
Case No. 1. This 36-year-old white male machinist had drunk heavily since he was a teen-ager. Although he worked steadily, his drinking became a compulsive daily routine. His job was threatened and his marriage disrupted. He was seen in individual therapy in the Clinic for over two years, during which time he worked out the divorce from his first wife and remarried. He was interviewed two years after termination.
He was happy with his new wife and young children, but wished that he could provide more for them. He paid alimony for his first family, which he felt was just. He described his drinking as definitely changing in pattern during the course of therapy. He now drinks about once a week and never experiences any compulsion to drink more. However he occasionally feels like drinking when he feels depressed over finances. He felt that the Clinic had helped him to see his problems and work them out.
The next case was a bit more complicated, and went deeper into the roots of the subject’s drinking:
Case No. 2. This 30-year-old white male mechanic had drunk heavily for 10 years. He felt that his alcoholism had started when he was a lonely teen-ager in the Army. He went AWOL to marry his fiancée, and afterward was plagued by guilt and shame over his desperation and anger at his wife for seducing him away from the Army duty. For the past six years he had been unable to work steadily because of his heavy drinking, and marital quarreling had led to their separation at the time he came to the Clinic. He was depressed and suicidal.
He was first seen individually and then jointly with his wife for a total of 20 interviews. He and his wife felt that they had learned to talk to each other and resolve long-harbored grudges. He had always felt inhibited but now felt able to express himself. Although he had stopped drinking for a short while, he and his wife tried drinking together at family gatherings, and he found that he now experienced no compulsion to continue drinking, nor did he find that drinking was desired or needed as a problem solving measure.
Now comes a case history that you can quote to your bartender friends, for their edification:
Case No. 3. This 38-year-old white bartender had been a heavy drinker all his life. He had drifted to various odd jobs and eventually landed in jail subsequent to public intoxication and marital quarrels.
He was divorced at the time he came to the Clinic on court probation. He was seen for 28 interviews, but he is uncertain that the Clinic was of much help. He feels that his severe drinking was due to his marital problems.
When interviewed 20 months after termination he was happily remarried, had two steady jobs, had saved a substantial sum for a house, and was a contented family man.
Although a bartender, he never drank except at home, and never got intoxicated. He used pseudo-masculine defenses, was nervous, and overtly aggressive. Nevertheless he and his family both agreed that alcohol was no longer a problem.
And as for the man in the gray flannel suit:
Case No. 4. This 26-year-old white insurance salesman had been a compulsive drinker since age 17. His marriage had been stormy and he accused his wife of running around with his drinking partners. He had had many arrests and came to the Clinic on court probation. He and his wife were seen jointly for 15 interviews, but they did not feel that it was of any help. They admitted that they had psychiatric problems, but he felt that he wanted to be told what do to rather than just examine his life.
However, since attending the Clinic a dramatic change had occurred: the couple had reconciled and were now working together to develop a stable emotional and financial marriage situation. He still drank occasionally, usually on the week ends, only at home, and without any feelings of compulsivity. He thought that he might be tempted to drink more than he ought, if he was in a tavern with his buddies, because they would pressure him. So he only drank at home. He has been working successfully for the first time in his life, and has stable family relationships.
“It is evident,” the medicos commented, “that none of these men received any long-term reconstructive type of psychotherapy. In fact there was little change in terms of personality dynamics. The same may also be said for most of the normal drinkers reported in previous clinical studies.
“There are those, of course, who will immediately claim that men such as these were not truly addictive alcoholics or subject to compulsive drinking. However by their own admission, by our measuring methods, and by clinical standards, these men were apparently as much addictive alcoholics as those who were now abstinent and those who continue pathological drinking. Likewise, the other clinical reports indicate that the normal drinkers did not appear to differ from other populations of addictive alcoholics.”
The research report then went into various possible explanations of the successful readjustment these men had made. Then the doctors turned their clinical microscope on the other side of the picture: ex-drinkers who had continued to stay off the booze – but who were not doing so well in other departments of life:
Case No. 5. This 56-year-old white salesman had been a compulsive drinker since age 18. He had asthma and stuttered. Although deeply attached to his mother, he was angry with her for her over-conscientious religious principles. He was continually plagued by guilt feelings and still has difficulty expressing his anger. He was treated in the Clinic for about five years with both individual and group psychotherapy. Although he had been abstinent for two years, he continually feared a relapse.
He believed that the clinic was of tremendous value in helping him to understand himself. However, he believed that his very active participation in Alcoholics Anonymous was the main thing that kept him sober. His wife was a leader in the Al-Anon movement. Although he enjoyed his sobriety, he was plagued by many neurotic traits which interfered with effective social functioning, and his wife sheltered him. He remained very dependent and could neither assert himself nor handle rage without developing psychosomatic symptoms.
The next case reflected similar emotional crippling, in a man who was desperately hanging onto his sobriety as a life-preserver:
Case No. 6. This 39-year-old white technician had always felt inadequate and yet angry that superiors did not give him adequate recognition. He had started drinking five years previously over difficulties on the job. As the drinking increased he almost had a nervous breakdown, but instead drank himself to oblivion. He was on the verge of losing his job and was in legal difficulties when he came to the Clinic. He tested the therapist several times by coming to the Clinic drunk. When he found out that he was still accepted, he stopped drinking and had been abstinent for two years.
At follow-up 19 months after discharge, he was working steadily and his family adjustment was good. However he had many anxiety attacks and psychosomatic symptoms. He frequently felt depressed and asked the interviewer directly for help. He had intense feelings of inadequacy, and although he was performing well on the job he had continuing difficulties with his superiors.
And here was another fellow who wasn’t exactly to be envied simply because he was able to lay off the grog:
Case No. 7. This 48-year-old white public servant had been drinking at an increasing pace over the past five years until he drank continually on the job. He was on suspension when he came to the Clinic. He was seen for 12 interviews during which he stopped drinking and he had remained abstinent for 19 months. He felt that the Clinic sessions were of some help, but he felt that most importantly he wanted to stop drinking.
On interview 14 months after discharge, he was highly defensive and used overt paranoid defenses. He grossly denied any difficulties in any sector of his life. Yet his defensive needs led to a furtive type of existence, continually covering the tracks of his past difficulties, and maintaining a rigid self-concealment which left little room for any social interaction.
The psychiatric research team summed up its findings:
“The conclusion to be drawn from these two groups of clinical reports is that the criterion of abstinence is only one of several variables which are relevant to assessing the outcome of treatment of alcoholics. The presence of normal drinking subsequent to therapy does not need to imply that these patients are less well adjusted or less successfully treated than those patients who are abstinent. Nor does it follow that the patient who is abstinent has necessarily achieved a return to normal living or adjustment…
“The current research was not designed to evaluate the efficacy of treatment, but rather to conduct a controlled design study of the outcome of some treated alcoholics. The findings of this study corroborate prior clinical reports that some alcoholics do return to normal drinking. The characteristics of these alcoholics remain to be determined, as well as the reasons for their type of outcome. Thus these findings do not necessarily imply a change in treatment philosophy.
“However, it calls into question the assumption that abstinence is always a requisite of successful therapy, and it also calls into question that abstinence should always be the goal of successful therapy. We would argue that abstinence as a condition of treatment is a prescription which should be used by the therapist with discretion, as with any other therapeutic maneuver and that the goals of treatment, whether abstinence, psycho-social rehabilitation, or characterological changes, are goals which must be determined with each individual patient.”
So there it is, the Cincinnati research, summed up, has shown that some alcoholics, successfully treated by the Clinic by ordinary methods of psychotherapy, have achieved a normal adjustment to life and are now able to indulge in social drinking without disastrous effects. Conversely, some alcoholics, similarly treated, who have remained strictly off the bottle – including at least one who attends AA meetings regularly – have not made such am adjustment, and remain ridden by tensions and anxieties; the only achievement they can point to is that they don’t drink anymore.
The AA reply, of course, would be that those who have successfully returned to normal drinking were not real dyed-in-the-bourbon alcoholics in the first place-they were simply “heavy drinkers.” The AA book (Alcoholics Anonymous, AA World Services, Inc., New York, 1935; second and revised edition 1955), goes fully into this aspect, stating flatly:
“We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. Commencing to drink after a short period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad off as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.”
The Cincinnati researchers, however, have found that on the basis of various personality tests plus physical examination, those men who successfully took up drinking again, after therapy, were no different from other addictive drinkers.
The controversy is an old one, and we could go around in semantic circles. Just what is an alcoholic? If a man drinks heavily but continues to handle himself okay, or if he lays off and then returns and doesn’t get into trouble, then AA would say he was “not a true alcoholic.” On the other hand, if he is “cured” of drinking, later reverts to it, and lands back in the gutter-then he is an alcoholic. Somehow this sort of reasoning seems like putting the cart before the horse.
One primary aim of today’s research is to determine whether the condition we call “alcoholism” is an actual, specific disease, or a personality disorder-which is not quite the same. Fortunately, today, we have more or less discarded the old view of drunkenness as a moral vice, to be cured by “will power”-by “pulling yourself together.” The compulsive alcoholic can no more lay off the bottle by “will power” than can a man suffering from a cold simply make up his mind that he’s going to stop coughing and sneezing. The question is, does the alcoholic have a definite physical disease that can be diagnosed and treated as such-or is it that his total character, his personality, is maladjusted and needs renovating?
Dr. E.M. Jellinek, in his authoritative review The Disease Concept of Alcoholism (Hillhouse Press, New Haven, 1960), points out that around 1940, the phrase “new approach to alcoholism” was coined, and that in the past 25 years we have come a long way from the old days when the drunkard was considered simply a no-good bum who could snap out of it if he really wanted to.
The AA view, oft repeated, is that alcoholism is “an obsession of the mind coupled with an allergy of the body.” This is the “disease” concept-but AA takes no stock in cure by psychotherapy, auto-suggestion, or medical drugs.
It is AA’s dedicated belief that true alcoholism can only be alleviated-the disease not cured but its symptoms arrested-by a deeply felt spiritual experience, specifically by complete surrender to the will of God. And AA has a strong argument in the fact that this approached has worked for thousands of people after everything else had failed. The proof of the pudding, says AA, is in the eating.
Medicos on the other hand, while giving full credit to AA’s fine work, do not believe that all alcoholics will necessarily respond to the same sort of spiritual therapy. Further, the doctors look toward curing the disease, or disorder, by renovating the individual’s entire personality. For that matter, AA likewise insists on a basic personality change: with the proviso, however, at which many doctors balk, that the rehabilitated person must never drink again.
Perhaps it would be well to state at this point that neither this writer nor this magazine have anything but admiration for the great work done by Alcoholic Anonymous, and for the phenomenal recoveries made by thousands of its members. Neither are we urging abstainers to go back to drinking, nor trying to give them excuses to do so. We are merely presenting here the latest findings of high-level psychiatric research, by men who are just as dedicated to eradicating alcoholism as are the AA groups.
There is not exactly a feud between AA and the psycho-therapists (it is an AA tenet not to engage in controversy), but there is a basic difference in approach. The Cincinnati researchers, in their report, pointed out that psychiatrists in the past have in general shied away from treating alcoholics, due partly to the various headaches involved, and partly to the pronounced lack of success. Dr. Pattison acknowledged this frankly-and at the same time took a crack at AA-when he said:
“In part, due to psychiatric abdication, lay groups have taken the lead in treatment, but not without detriment to scientifically conceived treatment programs."
This is not the first time the difference between AA and orthodox psychotherapy have been pinpointed. Back in 1935, a noted psychiatrist, Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, of Greenwich, Connecticut, in an address to the 20th Anniversary convention of AA in St. Louis, told the assembled recovered alcoholics: “You cannot afford to wear haloes simply because you have achieved sobriety!”
Dr. Tiebout, as vice-chairman of the Connecticut Commission on Alcoholism and one of the first medical authorities to endorse the AA program back in the late 30’s, was entitled to speak with authority. He earnestly reminded the AA’ers that “ego control will continue to be a problem if you hope to remain sober.”
Citing 10 years of research into the problem of “ego reduction” among alcoholics, the doctor cautioned that “a return of the full-fledged ego can happen at any time.”
“Years of sobriety,” he said, “are no insurance against its resurgence. No AA, regardless of his veteran status, can ever relax his guard against the encroachments of a reviving ego.”
Dr. Tiebout gave credit to AA for stressing the concept of “surrender.” “The function of this concept is clear,” he said. “It produces a stopping of the runaway ego by causing the individual to say, I quit, I give up my headstrong ways, I’ve learned my lesson. Very often, for the first time in that individual’s adult career, he has encountered the necessary discipline which halts him in his headlong pace.”
The Connecticut psychiatrist didn’t go directly into the business of total abstinence-but his point was that not the mere giving up of liquor, but control of the headstrong, selfish, self-destructive ego in all its aspects should be the target of any therapy.
On the subject of total abstinence, the Rev. Christopher M. McElroy, O.Carm., of Oakland, New Jersey, spiritual director of the Matt Talbot Legion, a Catholic temperance group, recently wrote to the editor of America:
“…Many consider that Alcoholics Anonymous is the answer to the problem (of destructive drinking). And certainly, although this organization has reached only 300,000 of the more than five million alcoholics, it is much more effective than pills or the pledge. I am afraid, however, that for the general run of people, anti-alcoholism movements are doomed to failure when they forsake the virtue of temperance and accentuate abstinence. For then abstinence becomes a positive virtue, and the taking of one drink becomes a vice.
“In our day, the hard reality is that most Americans drink because they like to-and want to. For 12 out of 13 of them, alcohol will never be a problem, and we cannot impose abstinence on them as a moral necessity.”
So, the argument goes round and round. Perhaps one approach to some answers is acceptance of the fact that all alcoholics are not the same, and cannot be treated as such with any success. Each one is an individual. AA may be the answer for many excessive drinkers; for many others, it may not; they may do better with standard psychotherapy. Still others may life themselves by their own boot-straps. But it does no constructive good to say that you’re not a “real alcoholic” if, after a long period of abstinence, you find you can safely take it or leave it alone.
Dr. S.E. Bird of Mt. Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles, not long ago told a meeting of the Southern California Psychiatric Society:
“Alcoholism is a massive problem. The extent of our knowledge at present is extremely limited. There is a tendency to think of all alcoholism as the same thing-and it isn’t.”
Meantime, research work, to provide the basic material on which theories can be built and more effective approaches devised, go on in many directions. A UCLA research psychologist, David Greiner, issued an appeal the other day for 100 men with prison records, who have solved their drinking problem through AA, to volunteer as guinea pigs in a deep probing personality study.
“We know that AA works, but not why,” Greiner said, “something about AA changes lives-effects what we call a conversion reaction. We want to find out what it is.”
A novel idea was proposed recently to a convention of top college and university administrators, by Ira H. Cisin, a Washington research sociologist. He proposed that courses in “basic bourbon,” “introduction to martinis,” and “sipping Scotch” should be given at the college level-that American youth should be taught how to drink without going overboard.
“Drinking can be dangerous,” Cisin said, “and the young deserve to be instructed in its uses, just as they are taught how to swim and drive a car.”
Maybe he has something there.
(Source: REAL, September 1965)