HIGH PERCENTAGE OF RECOVERY
Drinker Must Read About Procedure or Talk With One of
Those Freed From Alcoholism
(Last of Six Articles)
Cases already brought to light by these stories show homes breaking up, divorce or suicide a daily fear or threat, jobs jeopardized, health and sanity slipping, even the bare routine of living relentlessly corroded.
Unseeing, or brazenly ignoring facts; deluding himself, or helplessly letting things drift to the brink, the alcoholic has caused those who love him to grasp at any straw.
Immediately after the first article appeared, a mother wrote, pleading: “I shall appreciate haste in your reply, with a view that we may head off this coming weekend nightmare.”
Another: “S O S. Please telephone me immediately.”
“My husband is after liquor like a dope after dope. We are so worried and don’t know what to do. Please help me with him,” writes another.
Illustrating the helplessness of the alcoholic: “I am very anxious to find some remedy for this sickness of my father, who really wants and tries to quit drinking.”
A Ray of Hope
Gratitude: “Your articles in The Press have given a ray of hope to many mothers.”
Desperation: “Oh, I pray you can help me, for the worry has almost got me. I am a nervous wreck myself. I will hope to hear from you as soon as possible. Please let me hear. It’s my last straw.”
Hopelessness: “What must I do? I am so sick, he worries me so much. I can hardly hold my head up. I don’t know which way to go. I just can’t stand it much longer.”
The fear that drives the alcoholic’s family to secrecy is shown by the envelope. addressed to Mr. Anonymous, Box 2771, Houston, which contained nothing but the address of a man.
Ministers and physicians have written, praising, and offering help, and giving the names of alcoholics needing a cure.
Besides being a vivid revelation of the prevalence of the malady in Houston, pleas such as the foregoing emphasize the need for careful understanding of just what the method of Alcoholics Anonymous is.
The six articles of this series give a fair outline. The details, of course, have had to be condensed. But those who are interested in putting some alcoholic on the road to recovery should not think that this is a magic formula that can be made to work overnight, or without the co-operation of the alcoholic.
The first step, therefore, is to get him interested enough to do one of three things: read this series, read the book or talk to Mr. Anonymous.
If he is too drunk or too jittery to do any of these, on the advice of a physician he may need to be hospitalized until he can talk and think and decide rationally.
Our experience as a group indicates that a brief hospitalization is most desirable in many cases, and really imperative at times. Besides enabling the patient to think clearly, he can be easily approached by our members under favorable conditions. Whenever possible such is the practice in our established centers.
In Houston, there is as yet no group of alcoholics restored to health by this method. The next nearest individual ex-alcoholic is in Galveston, and the next nearest in Marlin. As soon as there are several, it will be possible to bring more of these personal contact and guidance to those seeking relief.
Meanwhile, Mr. Anonymous will do what one man can to supplement the explanations in these articles, and in the book.
Why is it so helpful to the drinker who has reached the condition treated here, to talk with a member of Alcoholics Anonymous? It is because only another alcoholic understands him.
Lawyers, ministers, business partners and employers, parents, and wives, often listen to confidences and fresh resolutions. But the clergy may say, “Your drinking is a sin.” The partner or employer: “You’ll have to quit this monkey business or get out.” 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?”
“But,” the alcoholic whispers in his heart, “no one but I can know that I must drink to kill the worry and suffering too great to stand.”
He presents his excuses to the member of Alcoholics Anonymous who has come to talk. Can’t sleep without liquor. Worry. Business troubles. Wife doesn’t understand. Debt. Stomach trouble. Overwork. Nerves too high strung. Fatigue. In-law trouble. Loneliness. Grief. Deep, dark, phobic fears.
Then Mr. Anonymous begins to tell the sick one how many more alibis he himself knows.
“Bunk,” he says in effect. “I’ve used them all myself.”
And then he tells his own alcoholic history, certainly as bad, perhaps far worse. They match experiences. Before long the prospect has told his new friend things he never even admitted to himself.
Rough and ready psychology it is; but it works in more than half the cases. In the cases where the alcoholic really and honestly wants to get well, the percentage is near 100.
This series will close with a brief but clear digest of the principles and methods of Alcoholics Anonymous; seen through the eyes of eminent religious leaders. First, Dr. Dilworth Lupton, pastor of First Unitarian Church, Cleveland, where there is a group of about 200 ex-alcoholics, said in a recent sermon: “I most humbly confess to having failed completely with alcoholics. Many of my friends in the fields of medicine and psychiatry confess the same feeling of futility.
He’s Now Convinced
“Recently, however, my experience with a victim of alcoholism and later with the fellowship that calls itself Alcoholics Anonymous, first aroused my hopes, then my faith; and now I am convinced that these people have found a way out. I have seen it with my own eyes.
“Mr. X, the former alcoholic to whom I just referred, is a young man with a family. For five years he was rarely sober. He and his wife were headed straight for the divorce court.
“Two years ago he consented to hospitalization. While under treatment he received 18 visits from ex-victims who were members of Alcoholics Anonymous, all of them laymen. Soon he was attending weekly meetings of the Cleveland group. He hasn’t had a drink since.
“I have attended two meetings of this group. About 80 were present. They are what the world calls he-men. They come from all walks of life. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, near-agnostics and near-atheists are among their number.
“I found no excessive piety, no sensationalism, no fanaticism, no aggressive evangelism. They have no desire to make the country dry, or anybody else dry unless he happens to be like them, allergic to alcohol. They seem to have a good sense of humor, a quality sometimes rare in religious circles.
“From what I have read and heard and seen, I am convinced that the success of this movement is due to the practice of certain religious principles that are as tried and true as the Ten Commandments.
“First: The principle of spiritual dependence.
“My friend, Mr. X, was told by his ex-alcoholic visitors that they had not been able to save themselves, and that only as they reached out for a Power that was greater than themselves was their compulsive neurosis broken. That principle is the core of the movement, just as it is the core of all religion at its best.
“Second: The principle of universality.
“Alcoholics Anonymous is composed of men of various religious faiths, and they intend to keep it so. Indeed, there is no pressure toward joining any religious organization. Furthermore–and this surprises me–each man can conceive of God in whatever concepts please him.
“Such an attitude displays nothing short of genius. These men recognize that behind all forms and expressions of religion itself–the impulse to live nobly and adore the highest.
“Third: The principle of mutual aid. As one of them said, ‘What we have is of no good unless we give it away.’ My friend Mr. X seems typical. He spends every available minute helping alcoholics get on their feet. And he is having a wonderful time. If that isn’t Christianity, in Heaven’s name, what is?
“Fourth: The principle of transformation.
“The ultimate test of religion is the change it makes in the character of the believer. Every man I have met who is connected with Alcoholics Anonymous declares that there has been an astonishing change in attitude and outlook, as well as habits. In the face of collapse and despair they have found a new sense of direction and power.
“It has been moving and convincing.”
Our Book of Experience
Regarding the 400-page book, “Alcoholics Anonymous,” obtainable c.o.d. for $3.50 by writing to Works Publishing Co., Box 657, Church Street Post Office, New York City, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, internationally noted Baptist leader, said in a published review:
“This 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.
“This book represents the pooled experience of 100 men and women who have been victims of alcoholism–many of them declared hopeless by the experts–and who have won their freedom and recovered their sanity and self-control. Their stories are detailed and circumstantial, packed with human interest.
“The book is not in the least sensational. It is notable for its sober, careful, tolerant, sympathetic treatment of the alcoholic’s problem and of the successful techniques by which its co-authors have won their freedom.
“The core of their whole procedure is religious–the expulsion of the alcoholic’s obsession by a Power-greater-than-himself. Nowhere is the tolerance and open-mindedness of the book more evident than in its treatment of this central matter.
“They are not partisans of any particular form of organized religion, although they strongly recommended 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 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.’
“Throughout the book has the accent of reality and is written with unusual intelligence and skill, humor and modesty mitigating what could easily have been a strident and harrowing tale.”
Our own Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. Clinton S. Quin, heartily endorses Alcoholics Anonymous as follows:
“I do not know that I have had more than my share of alcoholics through my ministry, but I certainly have had a whole lot. I have said to every one of them,. ‘You can be cured if you will do what I tell you to do,’ and around the country and particularly in this state, I have the evidence.
“Of course, I was only the instrument–all I did was point the way. This new group of Alcoholics Anonymous are on the right track, and I want to express my appreciation to them for coming to Houston. The Houston Press has providentially done a real service to this city by publicizing this cure.
“Mind you, it doesn’t cost anything in dollars and cents–there are no membership dues–no officers. It is all very interesting and very real. Like any other new or old idea, when you yourself have experimented with it and found it to be true, you are enthusiastic about it, and I want to register my deepest interest in what follows.”
The Alcoholic Foundation
Alcoholics Anonymous has no formal organization. Correspondence is carried on by the Alcoholic Foundation, Box 658, Church Street Annex Post Office, New York City. The Alcoholic Foundation receives royalties and profits from the sale of the book and occasional gifts.
Of the Alcoholic Foundation and Works Publishing Company the book says in part:
“To receive these inquiries, to administer royalties from this book and such other funds as may come to hand, a Trust has been created known as the Alcoholic Foundation. Three Trustees are members of Alcoholics Anonymous, the other four are well-known business and professional men who have volunteered their services. The Trust states that these four(who are not of Alcoholics Anonymous) or their successors, shall always constitute a majority of the Board of Trustees.
“We must frankly state, however, that under present conditions, we shall be unable to reply to all inquiries, as our members, in their spare time, may attend to most of the correspondence. Nevertheless, we shall strenuously attempt to communicate with those men and women who are able to report that they are staying sober and working with other alcoholics. Once we have such an active nucleus, we can then perhaps refer to them those inquiries which originate in their respective localities. Starting with small but active centers created in this fashion, we are hopeful that fellowships will spring up and grow very much as they have among us.
“The Alcoholic Foundation is our sole agency of its kind. We have agreed that all business engagements touching on our alcoholic work shall have the approval of its trustees. People who state they represent the Alcoholic Foundation should be asked for credentials and if unsatisfactory, these ought to be checked with the Foundation at once. We welcome inquiry by scientific, medical, and religious societies.
“This volume is published by the Works Publishing Company, organized and financed mostly by small subscriptions by our members. This company donates royalty and a profit from each copy of ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ to the Alcoholic Foundation.”
In closing, three slogans from the book will be understood by those who have closely followed the series. They are: “First things first”; “Live and let live”; and “Easy does it.” They are all old and seem tame; but when applied with this spiritual method of living, they pack dynamite.
And they bring happiness!
THE TWELVE STEPS
The Alcoholic Foundation is already in receipt of many letters from men who report that, though isolated from the various Fellowships, they have been able to recover by rigorously following the steps described in our book “Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Even more surprising has been the fact that a number have reported recovery from reading magazine and newspaper articles briefly sketching our approach.
These results gave us the idea which lies behind this booklet. Realizing that some families might not at first buy “Alcoholics Anonymous,” we became convinced that a booklet of this nature could set many alcoholics on the Broad Highway to health.
The fifth article of the foregoing series is entitled “12 Stages to Overcome Alcoholism” which, for lack of space, “Mr. Anonymous” was obliged to condense. Since many of us have found close adherence to the “12 Steps” desirable, we think the alcoholic reader would like to know just what these are.
Quoting now from the book——
“Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a Program of Recovery:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”
TO THE DOCTOR
Physicians who know our work first hand almost uniformly endorse it, but the doctor who is not acquainted with us would naturally like to have the opinion of a brother practitioner who has actually seen results.
Here follows a paper written by a physician who, specializing in alcoholism for many years, has watched our growth from the day it began.