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).

Then, too, the patient's hope is renewed and his imagination is



fired by the idea of membership in a group of ex-alcoholics where he

will be enabled to save lives and homes of those who have suffered as he

has suffered.
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.


b. That he try to adjust bad personal relationships, setting

right, so far as possible, such wrongs as he may have done in the past.


c. That he recommit himself daily, or hourly if need be, to

God's care and direction, asking for strength.


d. That, if possible, he attend weekly meetings of the

fellowship and actively lend a hand with alcoholic newcomers.


This is the procedure in brief. The manner of presentation may

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.


Considering the presence of the religious factor, one might expect

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

his dilemma.


In a large number of cases, this alcoholic group is now attaining

these very objectives because their simple but powerful devices appear

to cut deeper than do other methods of treatment for the following

reasons:
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.


3. Because of the ex-alcoholic brotherhood, the patient,

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.


The mental attitude of these people toward alcohol is interesting.

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

do."
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

following incident:
"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

way."
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

vigorously.


The alcoholic fellowship hopes to extend its work to all parts of

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

Alcoholics Anonymous




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