Aa history Lovers 2006 moderators Nancy Olson and Glenn F. Chesnut page

Part of the housecleaning process consists in acknowledging these

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Part of the housecleaning process consists in acknowledging these

wrongs; inventorying them; righting them insofar as possible without

doing further harm to people; asking God to remove shortcomings; and

continuing to take personal inventory day by day, admitting and undoing

a committed wrong as soon as discovered.
These are the most difficult stumbling blocks for many. To get

over them, not only is rigid honesty with self and others obviously a

prerequisite, but also moral courage of the highest degree.
Yet, at this juncture, the alcoholic is reminded of the saying of

the Man of Galilee: "Lo, I am with you always." He does not need

to go alone.
One alcoholic, in fear and trembling, set out to square himself

with some business acquaintances upon whom he depended for what was left

of his livelihood. Like most alcoholics, he thought few people knew the

extent of his former dependence on drink, and he feared that he would

alienate them by telling them how he failed to measure up to business


But they knew. What's more, they understood and sympathized

with his new position. Sincerity and clean purpose seem irresistible

even to the congenital skeptic!
This man returned home elated. He's been going like a house

afire ever since.

If you were convinced that such a man's real purpose was to

fit himself to be of maximum service to the people about him, and there

were no room for suspecting him of hypocrisy or self-deceit, what would

be your attitude toward him, Alcoholics Anonymous ask.

Well, that's the way it works!
The Final Step
The final step of cleaning house is the morning preparation for

each day.

Now, it is evident that any alcoholic, unless he be in the very

throes of death from delirium tremens or some other complication, can

live without a drink for 24 hours. Many have repeatedly done so--in

jails, in psychopathic wards, in hospitals and sanitariums; or just on

plain will power.
If the stake was high enough, they'd do it merely on a bet,

sitting on a barrel of their favorite brand with the bunghole open. But

without bolstering of some kind they could not add another 24 hours to

another indefinitely.

They've tried. They've invariably failed. That's why

they are alcoholics.

But when they exchange such enforced and material aids for the

spiritual help of that Power-Higher-Then-Themselves, the way one dry 24

hours follows another is simplicity itself.
The alcoholic who is following the procedure here outlined begins

his day by making conscious contact with this Power--with God. Some call

it prayer. Some call it meditation. Some read the Bible. But all of them

try honestly to square off the day in the presence of God.

Twenty-four hours to go without a drink. Twenty-four hours to be

honest. Twenty-four hours to live like a man. That's all. No worry

about the next day, the next year, or the next five, or the next 15.
Shucks, can't he drink if he wants to? Certainly. But the next

24 hours belong to God. No drinks. And "sufficient unto the day are

the evils thereof."
O.K., then. If he does the same every morning and comes through

clean, even a fuzz-wit can see that the man will be sober the rest of

his life.
And as the blessings of freedom, and growth toward the full

rewards of living sanely, pile up, every day becomes easier. Life gains

momentum, in the midst of peace.
The alcoholic just entering upon this new life is actually

thrilled to discover that, he is to have not one but many true and

generous human friends below--friends who have been through his special

kind of hell and have conquered. They will understand.

That's a bracer with a wallop such as he was never able to get

from alcohol.

The twelve steps complete will be found on page 30


this booklet.

++++Message 3768. . . . . . . . . . . . The Texas Pamphlet 1940 (Part 6)

From: Jim M . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/29/2006 7:33:00 PM


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 week-end 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 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.
Three Alternatives
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.

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 of 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."
Bunk----All Bunk!
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

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.

A 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 refereed, 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.
Spiritual Dependence
"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

"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 everyone 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 a 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 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


1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become


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


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."

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

Here follows a paper written by a physician who, specializing in

alcoholism for many years, has watched our growth from the day it began.
++++Message 3769. . . . . . . . . . . . Disease Model

From: timderan . . . . . . . . . . . . 10/5/2006 1:06:00 AM

I have a question, well probably a few of them.
What is the history of the use of the term disease

in relation to alcoholism in AA?

When did alcoholism become classified as a disease?
I know that Dr. Bob used the disease model in relation

to alcoholism in order to emphasize what alcoholism was

and what it was like. But, I do not know if he pushed

the disease model as it is today.

Can anyone help here?
Note from the moderator:
There are a number of historical facts that need to

be noted in order to give a good answer to this

Mrs. Marty Mann and her proteges, like Sgt. Bill S.,

worked to popularize the disease concept in order to

counter the prevailing punitive attitude toward

alcoholism. If alcoholism was simply a matter of

will power, then the way to treat alcoholics was to

punish them and scold them until they shaped up and

stopped drinking that way. That was the way most

people in the U.S. thought in 1939. But if alcoholism

was a "disease" or illness or malady, then you had to

give the person the proper kind of treatment to heal

the alcoholism instead of simply threatening them with

worse and worse punishments.

That was one of the big issues involved in the history

of the dispute over this issue during the 1940's.

Dr. Jellinek at the Yale School of Alcohol Studies

was opposed at first to calling alcoholism a "disease"

and wanted to call it an "illness" instead.
That was another issue involved in the early dispute

over this issue.

Jellinek (and the American Medical Association) were

eventually persuaded to use the term disease instead

of the term illness, but the debate continued, and

still continues today.

Dr. William D. Silkworth (see the Doctor's Opinion

in the Big Book) tried to use an analogy between

alcoholism and the allergic reaction (to things like

bee stings and strawberries, and so on) because the

reaction increases and becomes stronger and stronger

over time. That is, alcoholics undergo some sort

of physiological change in their reaction to alcohol

which is purely physical, and increasingly becomes

greater and greater, the more alcohol they are

exposed to. Modern physicians would see this as a

progressive change in the way our bodies metabolize

alcohol, and a progressive change in the structures

of the brain as it attempts to deal with problems of

how to walk in a straight line, and so on, rather than

the kind of histamine reaction which we see in most

things that are called "allergies," but there may

still be a useful analogy there.
I hope that some of the members of the group can

help fill in some of the other historical facts

surrounding this issue, and the way it developed

during the early years of AA.

Glenn C. (South Bend, Indiana)
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3770. . . . . . . . . . . . The Texas Pamphlet 1940 (Part 7)

From: Jim M . . . . . . . . . . . . 9/29/2006 7:35:00 PM



W. D. Silkworth, M.D.+

New York, New York

Reprinted from The Journal-Lancet, Minneapolis

July, 1939, Vol. LIX, No. 7, page 312

The beginning and subsequent development of a new approach to the

problem of permanent recovery for the chronic alcoholic has already

produced remarkable results and promises much for the future. This

statement is based on five years of close observation. As this

development is one which has sprung up among alcoholic patients

themselves and has been largely conceived and promoted by them, it is

felt that this new treatment can be reported freely and objectively.
The central idea is that of a fellowship of ex-alcoholic men and

women banded together for mutual help. Each member feels duty bound to

assist alcoholic newcomers to get upon their feet. These in turn work

with still others, in an endless chain. Hence there is a large growth

possibility. In one locality, for example, the fellowship had but three

members in September 1935; eighteen months later the three had succeeded

with seven more. These ten have since expanded to over three hundred.*
It is much more than a sense of duty, however, which provides the

requisite driving power and harmony so necessary for success. One

powerful factor is that of self-preservation. These ex-alcoholics

frequently find that unless they spend time in helping others to health,

they cannot stay sober themselves. Strenuous, almost sacrificial work

for other sufferers is often imperative in the early days of their

recovery. This effort proceeds entirely on a good will basis. It is an

avocation. There are no fees or dues of any kind, nor do these people

organize in the ordinary sense of the word.
+ Physician in charge, Chas. B. Town's Hospital, 293 Central

Park West, New York City.

* Dr. Silkworth's article was published July, 1939. We have

taken the liberty of bringing his figures on our growth up to the

present date. (April 1940).
These ex-alcoholic men and women number about five hundred. One

group is scattered along the Atlantic seaboard with New York as a

center. Another, and somewhat larger body, is located in the Middle

West. Many walks of life are represented, though business and

professional types predominate. The unselfishness, the extremes to which

these men and women go to help each other, the spirit of democracy,

tolerance and sanity which prevails, are astonishing to those who know

something of the alcoholic personality. But these observations do not

adequately explain why so many gravely involved people are able to

remain sober and face life again.

The principal answer is: Each ex-alcoholic has had, and is able to

maintain, a vital spiritual or "religious" experience. This so

called "experience" is accompanied by marked changes in

personality. There is always, in a successful case, a radical change in

outlook, attitude and habits of thought, which sometimes occurs with

amazing rapidity, and in nearly all cases these changes are evident

within a few months often less.
That the chronic alcoholic has sometimes recovered by religious

means is a fact centuries old. But these recoveries have been sporadic,

insufficient in numbers or impressiveness to make headway with the

alcoholic problem as a whole.

The conscious search of these ex-alcoholics for the right answer

has enabled them to find an approach which has been effectual in

something like half of all cases upon which it has been tried. This is a

truly remarkable record when it is remembered that most of them were

undoubtedly beyond the reach of other remedial measures.
The essential features of this new approach, without psychological

embellishment are:

1. The ex-alcoholics capitalize upon a fact which they have

so well demonstrated, namely: that one alcoholic can secure the

confidence of another in a way and to a degree almost impossible at

attainment by a non-alcoholic outsider.

2. After having fully identified themselves with their

"prospect" by a recital of symptoms, behavior, anecdotes, etc.,

these men allow the patient to draw their own inference that if he is

seriously alcoholic, there may be no hope for him save a spiritual

experience. They cite their own cases and quote medical opinion to prove

their point. If the patient insists he is not alcoholic to that degree,

they recommend he try to stay sober in his own way. Usually, however,

the patient agrees at once. If he does not, a few more painful relapses

often convince him.
3. Once the patient agrees that he is powerless, he finds

himself in a serious dilemma. He sees clearly that he must have a

spiritual experience or be destroyed by alcohol.
4. This dilemma brings about a crisis in the patient's

life. He finds himself in a situation which, he believes, cannot be

untangled by human means. He has been placed in this position by another

alcoholic who has recovered through a spiritual experience. This

particular ability, which an alcoholic who has recovered exercises upon

one who has not recovered, is the main secret of the unprecedented

success which these men and women are having. They can penetrate and

carry conviction where the physician or clergyman cannot. Under these

conditions, the patient turns to religion with an entire willingness and

readily accepts, without reservation, a simple religious proposal. He is

then able to acquire much more than a set of religious beliefs; he

undergoes the profound mental and emotional change common to religious

"experience." (See William James' Varieties of Religious


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