Then, too, the patient's hope is renewed and his imagination is
will be enabled to save lives and homes of those who have suffered as he
5. The fellowship is entirely indifferent concerning the
individual manner of spiritual approach so long as the patient is
willing to turn his life and his problems over to the care and direction
of his Creator. The patient may picture the Deity in any way he likes.
No effort what ever is made to convert him to some particular faith or
creed. Many creeds are represented among the group and the greatest
harmony prevails. It is emphasized that the fellowship is non-sectarian
and that the patient is entirely free to follow his own inclination. Not
a trace of aggressive evangelism is exhibited.
6. If the patient indicates a willingness to go on, a
suggestion is made that he do certain things which are obviously good
psychology, good morals and good religion, regardless of creed:
a. That he make a moral appraisal of himself, confidentially
discuss his findings with a competent person whom he trusts.
right, so far as possible, such wrongs as he may have done in the past.
God's care and direction, asking for strength.
fellowship and actively lend a hand with alcoholic newcomers.
vary considerably, depending upon the individual approached, but the
essential ingredients of the process are always much the same. When
presented by an ex-alcoholic, the power of this approach is remarkable.
For a full appreciation one must have seen the work and must have known
these patients before and after the change.
to find unhealthy emotionalism and prejudice. This is not the case
however; on the contrary, there is an instant readiness to discard old
methods for new ones which produce better results. For instance, it was
early found that usually the weakest approach to an alcoholic is
directly through his family or friends, especially if the patient is
drinking heavily at the time. The ex-alcoholic frequently insists,
therefore, that a physician first take the patient in hand, placing him
in a hospital whenever possible. If proper hospitalization and medical
care is not carried out, the patient faces the danger of delirium
tremens, "wet brain" or other complications. After a few
days' stay, during which time the patient has been thoroughly
detoxicated, the physician brings up the question of permanent sobriety
and, if the patient is interested, tactfully introduces a member of the
ex-alcoholic group. By this time the prospect has self-control, can
think straight, and the approach to him is made casually, with no
intervention by his family or friends. More than half of this fellowship
have been so treated. The group is unanimous in its belief that
hospitalization is desirable, even imperative, in most cases.
What has happened to these men and women? For years, physicians
have pursued methods which bear some similarity to these outlined above.
An effort is made to procure a frank discussion with the patient,
leading to self-understanding. It is indicated that he must make the
necessary re-adjustment to his environment. His co-operation and
confidence must be secured. The objectives are to bring about
extraversion and to provide someone to whom the alcoholic can transfer
these very objectives because their simple but powerful devices appear
to cut deeper than do other methods of treatment for the following
1. Because of their alcoholic experiences and successful
recoveries they secure a high degree of confidence from their prospects.
2. Because of this initial confidence, identical experience,
and the fact that the discussion is pitched on moral and religious
grounds, the patient tells his story and makes his self-appraisal with
extreme thoroughness and honesty. He stops living alone and finds
himself within reach of a fellowship with whom he can discuss his
problems as they arise.
too, is able to save other alcoholics from destruction. At one and the
same time, the patient acquires an ideal, a hobby, a strenuous
avocation, and a social life which he enjoys among other ex-alcoholics
and their families. These factors make powerfully for his extraversion.
4. Because of objects aplenty in whom to vest his
confidence, the patient can turn to individuals to whom he first gave
his confidence, the ex-alcoholic group as a whole, or the Deity. It is
paramount to note that the religious factor is all important even from
the beginning. Newcomers have been unable to stay sober when they have
tried the program minus the Deity.
Most of them report that they are seldom tempted to drink. If tempted,
their defense against the first drink is emphatic and adequate. To quote
from one of their number, once a serious case at this hospital, but who
has had no relapse since his "experience" five and one-half
years ago: "Soon after I had my experience, I realized I had the
answer to my problem. For about three years prior to December 1934 I had
been taking two and sometimes three bottles of gin a day. Even in my
brief periods of sobriety, my mind was much on liquor, especially if my
thoughts turned toward home, where I had bottles hidden on every floor
of the house. Soon after leaving the hospital, I commenced to work with
other alcoholics. With reference to them, I thought much about alcohol,
even to the point of carrying a bottle in my pocket to help them through
sever hangovers. But from the moment of my first experience, the thought
of taking a drink myself hardly ever occurred. I had the feeling of
being in a position of neutrality. I was not fighting to stay on the
water wagon. The problem was removed; it simply ceased to exist for me.
This new state of mind came about in my case at once and automatically.
About six weeks after leaving the hospital my wife asked me to fetch a
small utensil which stood on a shelf in our kitchen. As I fumbled for
it, my hand grasped a bottle, still partly full. With a start of
surprise and gratitude, it flashed upon me that not once during the past
weeks had the thought of liquor being in my home occurred to me.
Considering the extent to which alcohol had dominated my thinking, I
call this no less than a miracle. During the past four years of sobriety
I have seriously considered drinking only a few times. On each occasion,
my reaction was one of fear, followed by the reassurance which came with
my new found ability to think the matter through, to work with another
alcoholic, or to enter upon a brief period of prayer and meditation. I
now have a defense against alcoholism which is positive so long as I
keep myself spiritually fit and active, which I am only too glad to
Another interesting example of reaction to temptation comes from a
former patient, now sober four and one-half- years. Like most of these
people, he was beyond the reach of psychiatric methods. He relates the
"Though sober now for several years, I am still bothered by
periods of deep depression and resentment. I live on a farm, and weeks
sometimes pass in which I have no contact with the ex-alcoholic group.
During one of my spells I became violently angry over a trifling
domestic matter. I deliberately decided to get drunk, going so far as to
stock my guest house with food, thinking to lock myself in when I had
returned from town with a case of liquor. I got in my car and started
down the drive, still furious. As I reached the gate I stopped the car,
suddenly feeling unable to carry out my plan. I said to myself, `At
least I have to be honest with my wife.' I returned to the house and
announced I was on my way to town to get drunk. She looked at me calmly,
never saying a word. The absurdity of the whole thing burst upon me and
I laughed. And so the matter passed. Yes, I now have a defense that
works. Prior to my spiritual experience I would never have reacted that
The testimony of the membership as a whole sums up to this: For
the most part, these men and women are now indifferent to alcohol, but
even when the thought of taking a drink does come, they react sanely and
the country and to make its methods and answers known to every alcoholic
who wishes to recover. As a first step, they have prepared a book called