Jan 1940 - Akron group moves to new home at King School.
Jan 1944 - Dr. Harry Tiebout's first paper on the subject of
Jan 1944 - onset of Bill's 11 years of depression.
Jan 1946 - Readers Digest does a story on AA.
Jan 1948 - 1st A.A. meeting in Japan
Jan 1951 - AA Grapevine publishes memorial issue for Dr Bob.
Ohio Central Group.
Jan 2, 1889 - Sister Ignatia born, Ballyhane Ireland.
Jan 3, 1939 - First sale of Works Publishing Co stock is recorded.
Jan 4, 1940 - 1st AA group formed in Detroit, Michigan.
away from the Oxford Group atmosphere".
Jan 5, 2001 - Chuck C. from Houston died sober in Texas at 38 years
Jan 8, 1938 - New York AA splits from the Oxford Group.
Heal Thyself" died.
Jan 15, 1937 - Fitz M brings AA meetings to Washington DC.
Jan 15, 1945 - First AA meeting held in Springfield, Missouri.
Jan 19, 1943 - 1st discussion for starting AA group in Toronto.
Jan 19, 1944 - Wilson's returned from 1st major A.A. tour started
in Oct 24 1943.
Pennington, New Jersey.
Jan 23, 1985 - Bob B. died sober November 11, 2001.
in Brookyn Heights.
Jan 24, 1945 - 1st black group St. Louis
Jan. 24, 1971 - Bill W dies at Miami Beach, FL.
Jan 25, 1915 - Dr. Bob marries Anne Ripley.
Jan 26, 1971 - New York Times publishes Bill's obituary on page 1.
for comment, evaluation and sale.
in the U.S. and Canada every three years. Surveys are all done
during a one to two week period. Everyone who is at a particular
meeting of each of those groups is asked to participate.
LENGTH OF SOBRIETY IN ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
**77 ... 37.3% .. 38.0% .. 24.7% ... 4 years
**80 ... 36.4% .. 37.2% .. 26.4% ... 4 years
**83 ... 37.7% .. 36.9% .. 24.9% ... 4 years
**86 ... 32.8% .. 38.4% .. 29.0% ... 4+ years
1989 ... 34% .... 37% .... 29% ..... 4+ years
1992 ... 31% .... 34% .... 35% ..... 5+ years
1996 ... 27% .... 28% .... 45% ..... 6+ years
1998 ... 27% .... 26% .... 47% ..... 7+ years
2001 ... 30% .... 22% .... 48% ..... 7+ years
means continuous and complete abstinence from alcohol in any form.
meetings. Someone who got sober in A.A. and who is staying sober
by some other means would not appear in the survey.
NOTE: Entries with dates beginning ** here are from a summary.
From: hoojgs . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/27/2005 10:47:00 AM
My comments below do not address the question of the statistical
From: Diz Titcher . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/27/2005 6:31:00 AM
So what is it you are saying here ?
1. There are people who are pretending to be alcoholic?
2. Some people are more alcoholic than others?
I'm fairly new to all this, 21 months sober.
And please don't think I am having a go at you personally, I'm not. I'm
picking up your thread to obtain an answer, not necessarily from you. This
another thing that does my head in .... having to be so careful about the
sensitivities of others when nothing insensitive is intended.
Best wishes, Des
It really is great to be sober and in such a fantastic fellowship Good Luck!
Let me try my hand at answering your question.
It was common in early AA to distinguish between three different kinds of
drinkers. Let's call them Types 1, 2, and 3 for the purposes of this
Sometimes they were called (Type 1) "social drinkers," (Type 2)
drinkers," and (Type 3) "alcoholics." Richmond Walker, in
Twenty Four Hours a
Day (1948), referred to the last category as "merry go round
Mrs. Marty Mann makes this same kind of distinction in the book she wrote
the National Council on Alcoholism. Our South Bend good old timer, Brownie,
makes that three-fold distinction in the material about him in The St. Louis
Gambler and the Railroad Man. Dr. Jellinek (and many others) tried to make
distinctions of this same sort during the 1940's and 1950's.
It had been noted that some alcoholics were clearly drinking alcoholically
the time they took their very first drink. The first time they had a chance
a bottle (even if they were just teenagers), they drank themselves rip
drunk, and they just kept on drinking that way from that point on.
But other alcoholics started out as social drinkers, and then gradually
drinking more and more, until finally after enough years they crossed some
invisible line, and became clearly and unambiguously alcoholic drinkers.
Psychologists who study alcoholism and public health agencies which are
concerned with alcoholism have found that they also have to make some kind
distinction between people who are drinking a lot, and people who are
alcoholics. You cannot measure the amount of alcohol that is consumed and
that to determine who is a heavy drinker and who is an alcoholic.
All sorts of fancy definitions have been dreamed up by psychologists,
doctors, and so on, to try to identify where you make the division between
Two heavy drinkers (or "alcohol abusers" or whatever term you're
using) and Type
Three genuine alcoholics.
Let us not get into quarrels about what precise terminology to use here,
there have been a variety of different terms used over the years.
But as far as I can see, the basic distinction historically has been a
one. A Type Two heavy drinker (or alcohol abuser, or whatever) who is given
sufficient reason to stop drinking, will be able to stop on his own simply
using will power. Maybe his doctor puts him on a heart medication and tells
that he has to take the medication to save his life, and that this
cannot be mixed with alcohol in the system. Or something in his life puts
in a situation where he will get in enormous trouble if he does not quit. So
simply grits his teeth, and stops drinking. Just like that. Permanently.
A Type Three true alcoholic will find that he cannot stop drinking on his
by his own will power, no matter how serious the consequences are going to
His wife says that she will leave him, his employer says that he will fire
the judge says that he will give him twenty years in prison the next time he
drives drunk, his doctor says that he will be dead within a year if he keeps
drinking. But no matter what it is, a true alcoholic will STILL keep
in spite of all that, if he is trying to do it by himself by his own
If you listen to tape recordings of the good old timers, you will find
examples of alcoholics whose drinking was destroying them totally, who still
could not stop on their own, simply by using will power.
One thing which muddies the waters nowadays, is that (beginning with Dr.
Jellinek's famous chart back in the 1940's) the experts on alcoholism have
assembled data on the way that the disease of alcoholism progresses, where
can spot the symptoms of Type Three chronic alcoholism much earlier than
could in the 1930's and 1940's. So nowadays we can sometimes identify a
as definitely a chronic alcoholic early in the progression of the disease,
send that person off to AA, and save that person an awful lot of misery and
heartbreak, EVEN THOUGH in early AA they would not have allowed that person
attend AA meetings because they would have felt that this person's drinking
not qualify him or her to be a "true alcoholic" yet.
So is this particular individual a Type Two heavy drinker who is getting
or herself in trouble, and maybe needs some encouragement to quit doing that
from a psychotherapist or someone like that?
Or is this particular individual a Type Three alcoholic EARLY in the
of the disease, who hasn't gotten himself or herself in major trouble yet,
who nevertheless is going to need AA in order to quit? In current AA jargon,
would sometimes call this kind of person a "high bottom" drunk.
So what Fiona was asking was, were the people in that statistical table who
to AA meetings for a year and then quit going to meetings but were still
even five years later, actually Type Three alcoholics? Or were they Type Two
heavy drinkers who got sober in AA meetings, but actually would have been
to get sober all on their own anyway, just by using their own willpower?
In other words, were they Type Two heavy drinkers who had been misdiagnosed
early stage Type Three alcoholics?
The issue at stake is, is it EVER safe for a Type Three genuine alcoholic to
quit going to meetings? If they quit going to meetings, will Type Three
alcoholics ALWAYS inevitably go back to their alcoholic drinking sooner or
later? The good old timers in my part of Indiana say (on the basis of their
many years of experience) that Type Three genuine alcoholics will ALWAYS go
to drinking eventually if they quit going to AA meetings, with the one
that a few do manage to use church going as a substitute for AA meetings,
can stay sober that way.
Fiona's question is not some nit picking question about numbers and
but a word of warning about something which could cost alcoholics their
they make the wrong decision. Fiona is warning all of us (based in her case
her knowledge of Irish alcoholics): do NOT assume on the basis of those 3
year survival rate statistics which were recently posted that you will have
hope of staying sober if you quit going to AA meetings.
Given the fact that Fiona's Irish alcoholics and my own Hoosier alcoholics
in Indiana seem to suffer the same fate if they quit going to AA meetings, I
would advise anyone reading these AAHL postings to take Fiona's warning with
deadly seriousness. Her warning is simple: don't use those 3 and 5 year
survival statistics to play games with your life, if you are a true
I would add an additional warning to hers. Alcoholism is cunning, baffling,
powerful. Also patient, sneaky, and lying. Many a true alcoholic here in my
part of Indiana has gone to AA meetings and stayed sober for a long time
even ten years of more) until the voice of Mr. Alcoholism inside that
head has started murmuring, "You know, I haven't had any trouble
staying off the
booze these past ten years, and you know, I'm not really like some of these
other people in the AA meetings. I'm more intelligent than they are, have
will power and self control. I never fell as low as they fell. Maybe I'm not
really an alcoholic at all. Maybe I was just a heavy drinker, you know,
somebody who just got carried away sometimes. But I'm so much older and
now. You know, I think it would be safe now, after ten years, to go out and
have a little social drink."
We have a lot of retreads here in Hoosier AA who let themselves listen to
lying voice inside their heads, and went back out drinking, and then had to
suffer years of misery before they finally came dragging themselves back in
doors of AA, admitting finally, "O.K., I guess that I (even I) actually
alcoholic of some sort, the kind who needs AA meetings if I want to live
I should also say that the people in Indiana who go back out and try it
after ten years or so, are people who tell us later on that in fact they
worked the steps, even though they went to meetings. It is particularly
really thorough and deep reaching Fourth Step which is vital if you want
to give you the ultimate accolade at your funeral, and say with enormous
in their voices, "he died sober," "she died sober."
So to Fiona's warning, I will add my own. Don't use those 3 and 5 year
rate statistics which were posted to play games with your life. Keep on
to meetings. Keep up constant contact with your fellow AA members. Do a real
Fourth Step and ferret out all of the resentment and fear in your life, and
figure out what all your character defects are, so you won't be tempted to
down your nose at ANYBODY in an AA meeting, thinking yourself superior to
person in any way whatsoever. http://hindsfoot.org/tools.html
And remember that EVEN IF someone could prove that 33-1/3 % of genuine
alcoholics could eventually quit going to AA meetings and still be sober 3
later, or even 5 years later, that is till playing Russian roulette with a
gun with four chambers loaded. And 5 years isn't 10 years or 15 years.
South Bend, Indiana, U.S.
(A REAL alcoholic, sober today ONLY by the grace of God and the help of the
people in this fellowship, who is not planning on jumping out of the
++++Message 3008. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Data on 3 and 5 year survival
From: Jon Markle . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/27/2005 10:13:00 PM
I would add that there is a *CLINICAL* differentiation between alcohol
*DEPENDENCY* and alcohol *ABUSE* and the treatment recommended is different,
although somewhat similar. A comparison of the criteria outlined in the Big
Book regarding the descriptions of drinkers to the clinical criteria found
the DSM-IV-TR, reveals how amazingly close the two agree with the
I would also make the distinction that meeting attendance is not the same
as "working the program" . . . And not a requirement for either
sobriety or the
kind of permanent sobriety of which the Book speaks.
Many people, who fit criteria for alcohol dependency ("alcoholics")
meetings, learn how to work the program (the steps) and incorporate them
their lives as a way of life, without going to meetings forever. Such I
was the author's intent when he wrote: "AA's twelve Steps are a group
principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life,
expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and
Besides, as I recall, AA is for people who wish to stop drinking . . . It
doesn't really matter that they may or may not be dependent upon alcohol or
"simply" abuse it . . . A desire to stop is all that matters.
If indeed it is a Higher Power that keeps us sober, then simply going to
meetings isn't going to work for the long haul. But, working the spiritual
program in all our affairs will continue to insure sobriety . . . Even
++++Message 3009. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Responsibility statement and the
4th International Convention
From: Mel Barger . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/27/2005 7:03:00 AM
Yes, I knew that Al S. composed the Responsibility Statement, although I
Clarence Snyder also told me about spending time with Bill
in Toronto. Bill had wanted to see him, he said. I'm not surprised that Bill
enjoyed the meeting and showed no hard feelings. In all their
it was always Bill who was conciliatory, etc., despite being criticized by
I believe there was some concern in AA over the fact that we had finally
criticized by a national publication; i.e., the 1963 Harper's Magazine
by Arthur Cain. If I am not mistaken, the 1965 Convention theme was that AA
should take its inventory.
I wasn't able to attend that year because our son Dean, now forty, chose
weekend to be born. It was very thoughtful of AA to arrange things so that I
could finally attend a Toronto convention in 2005.
++++Message 3010. . . . . . . . . . . . James Houck (Oxford Group)
From: Emmanuel John . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/27/2005 11:54:00 AM
I was just at the house of Jim Houck the grandson of the James Houck you
mentioned, (on Friday night.) I do believe that his grand father is still
alive. We live in the Baltimore/Towson area of Maryland, he reports that his
grandfather got sober on 12-12, the day after Bill entered Towns for the
Peace and Happy Days
Emmanuel S. John, LCSW-C
See Message 3006 on James Houck
++++Message 3011. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Re: Length of sobriety
From: Mel Barger . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/27/2005 6:51:00 AM
I talked with Chauncey C. by telephone yesterday. He is now in a care home
Waterford, Mich., but is still sharp and willing to converse about his AA
experience. I first met him in 1950 when I was five months sober and had
to Pontiac, Mich., from my hometown, Norfolk, Nebr. He had nine years then,
there were members in Pontiac and Detroit who had more time.
I don't think he got sober at Dr. Bob's house, but I can check that. He told
me that a judge in Pontiac helped get him in touch with the AA's there in
He was a blue-collar man and felt a little out of place with doctors and
in the group, but that quickly changed. He and his wife Vivian were married
when she was 13 or 14 and he was 15 or 16 (I must check that out!).
they are still married and close to their 80th anniversary! That must be
kind of record.
In AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com, "Diz Titcher"
There was a man at the International that claimed 62 years.
Hi Diz, Gary here / Alkie :)
I just saw that man the day before thanksgiving at a gratitude meeting that
started over 57 yrs ago, his name is Chauncey C.
He is from Pontiac MI. and he will be 93 yrs old this month and also said
sober at Dr. Bob's house.
Yes he did say that he was the last one standing at A.A.'s International
Convention in Toronto Cananda for the 70th anniversary of A.A. this past
++++Message 3012. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Data on 3 and 5 year survival
From: email@example.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/2/2006 8:49:00 AM
It seems to me that trying to make alcoholics different from heavy drinkers
an attempt to make black and white out of something which is most likely
The vast majority of scientific evidence seems to say that alcoholism is
primarily a biogenetic inherited susceptibility. Physiologically alcoholics
metabolize alcohol and mind altering chemicals differently than 80 - 90% of
the population (in the United States, in other places it is higher or lower.
It appears that the rate of alcoholism is lower in cultures that have had
alcohol the longest period of time and higher in those cultures that have
it the least amount of time.) See for example Under the Influence by Milam
If, therefore, alcoholism is a real disease then it should be viewed as a
Some diabetics can control their diabetes by diet, others by diet and oral
medication and others by multiple daily injections. Each one is a
diabetic, it is the disease itself that is different in different people.
milder, some more severe.
Some alcoholics get sober in their teens, others in their 80's and all ages
in between. Are we to decide which are real alcoholics? Logically it would
seem that those in their 80's may have a milder form of alcoholism as they
able to drink longer, function and not die. The younger ones perhaps have a
very severe form and therefore are unable to continue.
We in AA talk a lot about spirituality and higher powers, but I think we
forget about the miraculous nature of sobriety. The "spiritual
"moment of clarity," the "surrender," the
"emotional/spiritual/psychological bottom," the "moment of
awareness" or whatever name it is given...the moment when we receive
the gift of
the ability to
not drink is what it is.
Some have this moment and go to AA, some to church, some nowhere and some
other places too innumerable to mentions. In AA we say "Having had a
awakening as the result of these steps." However, we know that Bill had
before any steps whatever. I had mine the day before I entered a treatment
center and I didn't even know what the steps were. We all have many,
many stories about people's spiritual awakening and as the person who had it
describes it, we see what they are talking about because it happened to us.
Going to AA does not guarantee sobriety any more than not going to AA
guarantees continued drinking. I came to AA for the first time in 1984 and I
have been sober ever since. I went to at least 1,000 meetings in my first
years. Since that time I have never had a period of time more than a week or
so that I have not gone to meetings and I generally go to 3-5 meetings per
week. That doesn't necessarily keep me sober, it is just what I do. I love
the people, the experience, the blending, the hope, the tears, the
laughter....the whole package. Many do not do what I do. It doesn't make
better or worse or more or less likely to drink. At least that is my opinion
based on my experience.
Having said all of the above, I'm not sure this "Real or Fake
Alcoholic/heavy drinker" is an appropriate topic for the AA
think the study is very interesting and not surprising to me, but to try and
figure this out does not seem "figureoutable." There is tremendous
the phrase "You're an alcoholic when you say you are."
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3013. . . . . . . . . . . . Chauncy C. (length of sobriety)
From: Cherie'' P . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/27/2005 9:22:00 PM
Hi, I had to reply to this one, as I too met Chauncy at the Thanksgiving Eve
Gratitude meeting that Chauncy started 57 years ago. I sat in the front row
felt very honored and humbled to be able to meet this man in person.
He told a few stories at the Gratitude meeting, but not about Bill W. I
if he has done other open talks in the past where he has spoken about these
things, and where could they be purchased if the talks were taped?
We do have Serenity Taping here that does alot of AA taping, not sure how
they have been around though.
Gary, I was also in Toronto, and yep, Chauncy was there. But was HE standing
was someone standing in his place? In November he didnt look like he could
up out of his wheelchair to me.
Gary, email me privatley, I bet we may have met at some AA event in the
even if we dont know we did lol
One Day At A Time
++++Message 3014. . . . . . . . . . . . Xmas messages from Bill W.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org> . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/28/2005 7:46:00 AM
Actually I found quite a few ... you can access some of these at this
Original message from: Cherie' P
I received the following Christmas message from Bill W to the fellowship in
My question is, is this the ONLY year he wrote a letter of this nature? And
others exist, please provide links to them if possible.
One Day At A Time
++++Message 3015. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Spook Room at Stepping Stones,
Dr. Bob and Anne
From: Mitchell K. . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/28/2005 7:44:00 AM
Clarence used to tell me stories about how Bill, Bob
and himself had engaged in some spooky endeavors. They
invoked some esoteric mumblings and stood at the
mirror watching their beards grow (I guess that's
kinda like watching grass growing) and Clarence
described the trio like forefathers of hippies -
sitting around a room in their socks with Bill playing
(I think it was) the violin and shuffling to "Mr.
Sandman." Clarence never said that Anne was involved
in these sessions and it appears from what he said
that they were more "stag" sessions.
That type of behavior (dabbling into the occult) was
very popular in those days and wasn't looked upon as
against any sort of mainstream religious belief.
++++Message 3016. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Hank P. and early AA
From: Mitchell K. . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/28/2005 7:54:00 AM
Just a quickie because I have to be off to work.
Clarence wasn't the only salesperson - Hank was one as
well as it appears there were a couple of others on
and off. Hank was also married to Dorothy's sisters.
Hank was very angry at Bill and AA in general.
Clarence used his being a traveling salesperson gig in
order to start AA meetings and attend them.
Just another quick echo to what Mel stated about our
dear brother Merton.... If there is anything out there
to be found it will probably be Merton who will find
it. I too have found Merton to be the top researcher
out there. Thank you!
--- email@example.com wrote:
> In 1947 Hank Parkhurst wrote a letter to Clarence
> Snyder regarding their "porcelain moulding" business
> complaining that Clarence was "messed up" with AA
> and other things and was not working the porcelain
> What was the porcelain moulding business and why was
> Hank relying so heavily on Clarence to make the
> sales? The letter suggests that Clarence might be
> the only salesman.
> There is another letter to Clarence in 1946 where
> Hank admits to drinking beer for a couple of weeks
> so I assume he was still doing this in 1947.
> God Bless,
> Pete K.
++++Message 3017. . . . . . . . . . . . Meeting makers make it
From: tsirish1 . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/28/2005 12:45:00 PM
I would love to know where the expression "Meeting makers make it"
The only reference to it that I have found was a caption to a cartoon in one
the Best of the Grapevines. Please help me find the origin of this statement
(which I also believe to be erroneous).
++++Message 3018. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: The 1968-1974 AA comic strips
From: chris fuccione . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/28/2005 7:43:00 PM
That's intresting I have one question. On the top of them it says
that they are AL-ANON Conference Approved Literature.
The one that was "IF YOUR PARRENTS DRINK TOO MUCH" and
"JANE'S HUSBAND DRINKS
TOO MUCH" seems like they would be An AL-ANON pieces ...... but
"IT HAPPENED TO
ALICE" and "WHAT HAPPENED TO JOE" are both AA Literature.
Why is the AL-ANON blurb on the top of them?
--- In AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com, Rudy890 wrote:
> Came across this old strip, a complete set of the 1968-1974
Alcoholics Anonymous comic strips.
> Just Click On Each Strip After You've Read It
> PLEASE VISIT MY HOME PAGE
> Consider How Hard It Is To Change Yourself
> And You'll Understand What Little Chance
> You Have In Trying To Changing Others
++++Message 3019. . . . . . . . . . . . James Houck (length of sobriety)
From: brian thompson . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/28/2005 10:58:00 PM
I met James Houck on September 2nd this year 05. He just celebrated 71 yrs
of sobriety on Dec 12th. James will be 100 yrs old on Feb 21 2006.
I will also be there for his birthday in Towson, MD.
James doesn't claim to have the longest length of sobriety in AA, since he
got sober in the Oxford Group and stayed with them for many years.
He curtainly has the longest sobriety of anyone alive just not in AA.
I was also at the International In Toronto. It was great seeing Chauncey
with 63 yrs.
This is a great site,
Brian T. Camp Verde, AZ
++++Message 3020. . . . . . . . . . . . James Houck and AA in Towson
From: Glenn Chesnut . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/3/2006 4:50:00 PM
A report from JM to Dr. Ernest Kurtz (author of *Not-God: A History of
Alcoholics Anonymous*) on James Houck and the Thursday night AA meeting at
Towson United Methodist Church in Towson, Maryland, which was recently
James has been called upon frequently as an "expert witness" by
in AA, to talk about "how different" early AA was from modern AA.
In the 1930's James did not identify with the early AA people in the Oxford
Group. His name shows up on no early lists of people who were participating
their special meetings for alcoholics. So there is no sign that he had any
accurate inside information about how early AA actually worked with
All he would have known was what was being said by the Oxford Group members
were hostile to the special mission to alcoholics, and were trying to push
early AA people out of the Oxford Group. We already knew that.
What JM's report does is to raise some interesting questions about James
claims of being deeply involved with modern AA, and of being an expert
on the way modern AA operates. James says that he has "spoken at
meetings and conferences," which means that Wally P. and others have
around to give talks to AA groups. But speaking in front of a large group of
people does not give anyone any inside information about how a modern AA
actually works with alcoholics.
James H. also says however that "I attended AA meetings at the Towson
Methodist church," which is one of his few claims to know anything
about how a
real AA meeting would operate in the modern period.
JM, before visiting the Towson AA group, had first read the material in the
Back to Basics website about James Houck and Wally P., and the way Wally has
been using a carefully structured questioning of Houck to back up his own
about the history of early AA. See http://www.aabacktobasics.com/
In response to Wally's questioning in
ml  James Houck said:
"Much of the AA program came directly from the Oxford Group. The AA
the 1940's was similar in many ways to the Oxford Group program of the
AA has changed over the years -- today's program is very different
"original." For the past 20 years, I have been speaking at AA
workshops and conventions about the "original" program of
recovery. My Sobriety
date is 12/12/34. I am a recovered alcoholic. I got sober in the Oxford
did many other alcoholics including Bill W., Dr. Bob, Fitz M., Rowland
Victor Kitchen, Charles Clapp, Shep Cornell. I have worked with alcoholics
well as non-alcoholics for the past 70 years. I took my granddaughter to AA
meetings in the 1980's. By then AA had already changed. It wasn't anything
the original program. While I was able to drive, I attended AA meetings at
Towson Methodist church. There are 3-4 groups that meet there. Over the
have spoken at numerous AA meetings and conferences. Today, I carry the
primarily by telephone. I take people through the Steps, and I share
with them. From time to time, AA's visit me at the retirement home where I
When JM told Dr. Ernest Kurtz that he was visiting that part of Maryland, at
Ernie's suggestion he paid a visit to the AA group in Towson to see what
group was like, and to see how closely connected James H. actually was to
program there. Are the Towson AA people typical of modern AA people in the
United States? Was James H. actively involved in their activities, and did
know lots of ordinary everyday modern AA people there in Towson from going
regular meetings with them? Was James H.'s description of Towson AA
What JM found was fairly troublesome, in terms of the claims that James H.
been making. Although James H. claims that he has attended numerous AA
at the Towson United Methodist Church, and is very familiar with the way
AA meetings function, JM could not find anybody at the AA meeting there who
knew who James was.
He found the Towson AA group to be a smoothly functioning AA group which was
doing a good job, and getting (and keeping) an awful lot of people sober. It
was most definitely NOT some group of ignorant, ineffectual, and demoralized
people who knew nothing about AA's Historic Heritage, and who were achieving
only a 1% to 3% success rate. Since this was James H.'s only claim to know
anything about modern AA practice, it seems very difficult to see where he
been getting all of his negative attacks on modern AA.
There may be explanations which could partially rehabilitate James H.'s
testimony, but it seems to me that what JM and Dr. Kurtz have discovered
to be posted in the AAHistoryLovers. So I am simply going to give JM's
to Kurtz as he wrote it:
Friends in AA recently sent me biographical information on one James Houck,
authored by Wally Paton on the Back To Basics web site, asking my opinion
his role in the development of AA out of the Oxford Group. In the past, I
read a lot of the history, but I am NOT an authentic or accredited
rely on my old friend, Ernie Kurtz, for any needed expertise. Thus, I passed
item along to Ernie, asking for comment, especially on the inconsistency
the claim that Houck has never wanted to be considered an historic figure in
yet his long standing involvement in AA in Towson, MD, Methodist Church is
I am semi-retired, and am now near the end of a three week stay in Bethesda,
MD, spending the Holiday Season with our three children, all of whom live in
this area. Ernie and I decided I should drive up to a meeting of what Wally
presented as Houck's "home AA group", to size the old guy up in
person, or at
least learn a bit more first hand. On receiving my report, Ernie feels you
find this information of interest.
I am reporting in as your cub reporter concerning my field trip to
Houck's home AA group." I had hoped to report this material in a maiden
onto the AAHistoryLover list. Glenn Chesnut has provided information, and I
joined, but I haven't figured the interface out just yet. I might send the
information I'm sending you now, but maybe next week, if you think anyone
on the list might be interested. It's possible this is all just
and I should just drop this whole matter, instead of sustaining the
I attended the Towson United Methodist Church AA meeting on Thursday,
27, 2005, 8:30 PM. There were 39 in attendance, of which 8 identified
as "home group members." Most of the rest were young newcomers, as
is a newcomers meeting, rotating weekly through discussion of the first
Steps. There were 10 minutes of traditional starter material, e.g. How It
Promises, Traditions, announcements. A young woman had been invited in to
20 minute lead. One fresh newcomer, one person with a year of sobriety, and
17 year member talked for 10 minutes each, and that was it.
I sought out members with 4, 17, 28, and 35 years of sobriety for
conversation. None had ever heard of James Houck, Wally Paton, or the Back
They all told me I must be looking for "_____," age 47, former
member until he
recently went back to drinking after 20 years in the group. He has
come back to AA elsewhere now, but no one knew for sure.
They all postulated that perhaps [the elderly gentleman whom I was asking
about] might be _____'s father or uncle or other relative.
The 35 year man offered to put me into contact with a 41 year group veteran
who can no longer make it to the meeting, but who "might know something
all this." I declined, as I needed to get back to Bethesda, and,
frankly, I saw
little utility to pursuing this matter any more.
My own personal conclusion is that Wally's very low success rate numbers
for AA seem completely off base and at odds with my own extensive experience
traditional AA in Minnesota and Florida. AA is clearly alive and well, at
in my own environment ....
That a man named James Houck put the cork in the jug a day after Bill Wilson
did likewise, and that they both found spiritual guidance through the Oxford
Movement, is a minor curiosity.
I hope you can find something of interest in this report. Thank you, again,
for steering me toward the historical sites you pointed out for me. And I
you have had a pleasant and uplifting Christmas and New Year.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3021. . . . . . . . . . . . Real alcoholics
From: robin_foote . . . . . . . . . . . . 12/30/2005 1:50:00 AM
Hi AA History Lovers,
The recent discussions on 'real alcoholics' reminded me of the following
and I thought I would share it with you. Hope it 'fits' the AA History
I have wondered for some years about the referral rate and criteria for
to AA. Additionally, I have questioned the reported incidence of alcoholism
the general population.
A study in 2004 that compared alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse found
to a third of alcoholics did not abuse alcohol. That is a third of
did not drink at the damaging levels decided by health authorities (often
defined as above 3 drinks a day for men and 2 drinks a day for women).
If these alcoholics are not being identified by generally accepted
questionnaires to identify alcohol dependence then they are not being
referred for treatment or AA. The same report makes that very point.
The study; Hasin DS, Grant BF. (2004) The co-occurrence of DSM-IV alcohol
in DSM-IV alcohol dependence. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004
Sep;61(9):891-6. RESULTS: Among respondents with current alcohol
dependence, 33.7% did not additionally meet criteria for alcohol abuse
(29.0% among men and 46.1% among women).
This is confirmation that what AA says; Its not what, where, how much or who
with; it's the effect that alcohol has that defines alcoholism.
Perhaps the 'success' rates of AA and the referral rates are being affected
healthcare workers assessing 'alcohol abuse' as alcoholism and not using the
criteria - thus inflating referral rates to AA. An alcohol abuser
(non-alcoholic) is unlikely to identify with AA members. This has all sorts
implications for perceptions of AA.
The Big Book states; "To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily
drink a long time nor take the quantities some of us have. This is
true of women. Potential female alcoholics often turn into the real thing
are gone beyond recall in a few years." (AA, pp 33).
If the above is kept in mind perhaps we would reach some of the others who
not now being referred to AA.