Author Archives: JoeO

Basic Text occurrences of certain words

Alcoholics Anonymous“, our Basic Text, was written to be conversational…

“You may already have asked yourself why it is that all of us became so very ill from drinking.  Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body.  If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking – ‘What do I have to do?’
“It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically.  We shall tell you what we have done.” (page 20)

“Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you…”
“If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were…”
“Let us tell you the rest of the conversation our friend had…”
“…the extraordinary experience which, as we have already told you…
“…A new life…or, if you prefer, ‘a design for living’ that really works.” (pages 21-28)

occurrences of recover-ed-ing-s-y



occurrences of recover-ed-ing-s-y

We A.A.s do not stay away from drinking,
we grow away from drinking [one day at a time].”
(Al-Anon, “Lois Remembers“, page 168, quoting Bill)

“We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous“, page 132)

recover, recovered, recoveries, recovering, recovers, recovery

Preface to Third Edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous
Because this book has become the basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists a sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore, the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left untouched in the course of revisions made for both the second and the third editions.

Foreword to First Edition

We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.

…[since] our first printing of this book… Alcoholics Anonymous has mushroomed into nearly 6,000 groups whose membership is far above 150,000 recovered alcoholics.

…when the broker (Bill W.) gave him (Dr. Bob) Dr. Silkworth’s description of alcoholism and its hopelessness… It also indicated that strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery.
Hence the two men set to work… Their very first case, a desperate one, recovered immediately and became A.A. number three. -Foreword (Second Edition)

By the end of 1939 it was estimated that 800 alcoholics were on their way to recovery.

…the large numbers of recoveries

Foreword to Third Edition

The basic principles of the A.A. program, it appears, hold good for individuals with many different lifestyles, just as the program has brought recovery to those of many different nationalities. The Twelve Steps…they trace exactly the same path to recovery that was blazed by the earliest members of Alcoholics Anonymous.
…Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery (not mere sobriety) begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.

The Doctor’s Opinion

We of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the reader will be interested in the medical estimate of the plan of recovery described in this book.

In the course of his (Bill W.’s) third treatment (late 1934) he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery… This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered.
NoNameYet comment: Dr. Silkworth risked his medical reputation by saying anything at all, and that is why we see “a possible means” (mere speculation) and “appear to have” (no certainty presented) in his first-and-brief letter of two.

…unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.

Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric effort is considerable, we physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole.

He had but partially recovered from a gastric hemorrhage and seemed to be a case of pathological mental deterioration.

Chapter 1: Bill’s Story

…the market had gone to hell again…would recover, but I wouldn’t. (page 6)

Chapter 2: There Is A Solution

…thousands of men and women… Nearly all have recoveredsolved the drink problem. (page 17)

Many (dropping into oblivion every day) could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed. (page 19)

Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. (page 20)

…So he returned to this doctor (Carl Jung), whom he admired, and asked him point-blank why he could not recover. (page 26)

The doctor said: “… I have never seen one single case recover, where the state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you.” (page 27)

Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered. (page 29)

Chapter 3: More About Alcoholism

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery.
…lost the ability to control our drinking…no real alcoholic ever recovers control. (page 30)

We have tried every imaginable remedy (to recover control of our drinking). In some instances there has been brief recovery (normal drinking), followed always by a still worse relapse. (page 31)

We first saw Fred about a year ago in a hospital where he had gone to recover from a bad case of jitters. (page 39)

Chapter 4: We Agnostics

If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered (from ‘chronic’, as in ‘no effective mental defense against the first drink’ (page 43) long ago. (pages 44-45)

Chapter 5: How It Works

Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves… There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. (page 58)
NoNameYet comment: The idea of giving oneself over to the ages-old, man-made, ego-driven idea of not drinking one-day-at-a-time and the idea of completely giving oneself over to taking the Twelve Steps to have our problem solved for us are not the same thing! Trying to stay sober one-day-at-a-time is dependent upon human power where the Steps are about trying to grow away – not stay away – from drinking one-day-at-a-time…and we do that by growing along spiritual lines for the remainders of our lives in order for “no effective mental defense” to be and remain completely removed.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery… (page 59)

Chapter 6: Into Action

…the Fifth Step in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter. (page 72)

Unwilling to be honest… Small wonder many in the medical profession have a low opinion of alcoholics and their chance for recovery! (page 73)

Chapter 7: Working With Others

To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss…
Perhaps you are not acquainted with any drinkers who want to recover. (page 89)
NoNameYet comment: ‘desire to stop drinking’, ‘want to recover’ and ‘wish to recover’ (Tradition Three) all mean the same.

If he says yes (he wants to quit for good and if he would go to any extreme to do so), then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered…one of a fellowship who, as part of (maintaining and sharing) their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you. (page 90)

…insist that if he is severely afflicted, there may be little chance he can recover by himself. (page 92)

It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him. (page 94)
NoNameYet comment: Thinking of “strenuous work, one alcoholic with another” as “vital to permanent recovery” occasionally leads some of us to the erroneous conclusion that “strenuous work, one alcoholic with another” is more like “how it works” (as some kind of ‘service work’ effectively replacing Steps One through Nine) than part of Step Twelve taking us back to the beginning for the sake of the suffer where we find “You can help when no one else can – You can secure their confidence when others fail” (page 89) actually making the difference…and here is more of that overall perspective:

…if your prospect does not respond at once…[not] desperate enough…leave such a person alone [as] he may soon become convinced he cannot recover [on human power. Do not spend ‘too much time’ there and thus] deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy (same as ‘recover‘). One of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half-dozen prospects. He often says that if he had continued to work on them, he might have deprived many others, who have since recovered, of their chance. (page 96)

Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps…the program of recovery. (page 96)

Permit [a man to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter] and you only harm him… You may be aiding in his destruction rather than his recovery. (pages 96-97)

Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. (page 97)

Should [the family] accept and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better chance that the head of the family will recover. (page 97)

…no undue haste for the couple to get together. The man should be sure of his recovery
Let no alcoholic say he cannot recover unless he has his family back…his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. (pages 99-100)

Chapter 8: To Wives

He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. But don’t remind him of this after he has been drinking…for the more you hurry him the longer his recovery may be delayed. (page 113)

…spectacular and powerful recoveries. (page 113)

The slightest sign of fear or intolerance may lessen your husband’s chance of recovery. (page 120)

Chapter 9: The Family Afterward

Our women folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering (as in ‘becoming recovered‘). (page 122)

At the beginning of recovery a man will take, as a rule, one of two directions. (page 125)

He is striving to recover fortune and reputation and feels he is doing very well. (page 126)

Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first. (page 127)

We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. (page 132)

A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling… We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. (page 133)

Whether the family goes on a spiritual basis or not, the alcoholic member has to if he would recover. (page 135)

Chapter 10: To Employers

…accepted the principles and procedure that had helped us. He is undoubtedly on the road to recovery. (page 139)

After satisfying yourself that your man wants to recover and that he will go to any extreme to do so, you may suggest a definite course of action. (page 142)

To get over drinking will require a transformation of thought and attitude. We all had to place recovery above everything, for without recovery we would have lost both home and business.
Can you have every confidence in his ability to recover? (page 143)
NoNameYet note: “Those who do not recover are people who cannot (they seem mentally incapable of) or will not (become intellectually willing to) completely give themselves to this simple program…constitutionally (mentally or intellectually) incapable of being honest with themselves.” (page 58)

Naturally this sort of thing decreased the man’s chance of recovery. (page 145)

An alcoholic who has recovered, but holds a relatively unimportant job, can talk to a man with a better position. (page 146)

If he is [drunk], and is still trying to recover, he will tell you about it even if it means the loss of his job. (page 146)

If he is conscientiously following the program of recovery he can go anywhere your business may call him. (page 147)

The right kind of man, the kind who recovers, will not want [a disproportionate amount of time and attention]. (page 149)

Chapter 11: A Vision For You

The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery proves that! (page 153)

He has helped other men recover, and is a power in the church from which he was long absent. (page 158)

Understanding our work, [the doctor] can [suggest our approach to a patient] with an eye to selecting those who are willing and able to recover on a spiritual basis. (page 162)

When a few men in this city have found themselves, and have discovered the joy of helping others to face life again, there will be no stopping until everyone in that town has had his opportunity to recover – if he can and will. (pages 163-164)

Appendix I: The A.A. Tradition

Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity. (Tradition One)

…we may refuse none who wish to recover. (Tradition Three)

Appendix II: Spiritual Experience

…the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms.

…many alcoholics have [incorrectly] concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God-consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook…
Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts…
Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery.

Introduction to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

…collective experience within the Fellowship on how A.A. members recover, and how our society functions.

…because the book (“Alcoholics Anonymous”) has helped so many alcoholics find recovery, there exists strong sentiment within the Fellowship against any change to it.

Foreword to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of more than one hundred thousand alcoholic men and women who are banded together to solve their common problems and to help fellow sufferers in recovery from that age-old, baffling malady, alcoholism.

This book…presents an explicit view of the principles by which A.A. members recover and by which their Society functions.

…after a large amount of failure in getting alcoholics to recover, three successful groups emerged…[yet] it was hard to find two-score of sure recoveries in all three groups (collectively).

…in April 1939…the recoveries numbered about one hundred…[new] book was called “Alcoholics Anonymous”…the spiritual ideas of the Society were codified…the application…was made clear. The remainder of the book…described their drinking experiences and recoveries.

…in 1939…the recovered alcoholics carried their message…

Proof that alcoholics could recover had been made.

Step One in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

…a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on their own resources.

Step Twelve in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

…if these are facts of life for the many alcoholics who have recovered in A.A., they can become the facts of life for many more.

Tradition One in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Our Twelve Steps to recovery are suggestions…

The A.A. member has to conform to the principles of recovery. His life actually depends upon obedience to spiritual principles.

…most individuals cannot recover unless there is a group.

[Just as] we had once struggled and prayed for individual recovery, just so earnestly did we commence to quest for the principles through which A.A. itself might survive.

Tradition Three in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

How could we know thousands of these sometimes frightening people were to make astonishing recoveries and become our greatest workers and intimate friends?

Tradition Five in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

The unique ability of each A.A. to identify himself with, and bring recovery to the newcomer in no way depends upon his learning, eloquence, or on any special individual skills… These legacies of suffering and of recovery are easily passed among alcoholics, one to the other.

Finally, he saw that I wasn’t attempting to change his religious views, that I wanted him to find the grace in his own religion that would aid his recovery.

Tradition Eight in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Almost no recovery from alcoholism has ever been brought about by the world’s best professionals, whether medical or religious.

Tradition Nine in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Unless each A.A. member follows to the best of his ability our suggested Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant.

Tradition Ten in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Since recovery from alcoholism is life itself to us, it is imperative that we preserve in full strength our means of survival.

Tradition Twelve in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Enthusiastic over the spectacular recovery of a brother alcoholic, we’d sometimes discuss those intimate and harrowing aspects of his case meant for his sponsor’s ear alone.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, by permission of AAWS


The words “fellow“, “fellows“, “fellowship” and “fellowships” can each be used in various ways, and our comprehensions or understandings of their nuances – shades of difference or delicate gradations – can often be quite dependent upon context. For example:

“‘I know I must get along without liquor…  Have you a sufficient substitute?’
“Yes…a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous…” (“Alcoholics Anonymous“, page 152)

How can a group of people be a substitute for the effect of a few drinks?! But in looking more closely, it is the spiritual fellowship shared within an autonomous A.A. fellowship – not the group itself – that has just been mentioned as our “sufficient substitute” for alcohol…and now the details of that common-for-all benefit as “fellows”, both male and female, within that fellowship are freely shared next from within our text:

“There you will find release from care, boredom and worry.
“Your imagination will be fired.  Life will mean something at last.
“The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead…”

…and now ponder these following two versions, one brief and one expanded, of that paragraph’s next sentence:

1. “Thus we find (the A.A. group), and so will you.”

2. “Thus we find (the fellowship we share within our A.A. fellowships), and so will you…
“…in your own community…make lifelong friends…new and wonderful ties…escape disaster together…commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey…give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life…learn the full meaning of ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.'” (pages 152-153)

“Some day we hope that every alcoholic who journeys will find
a Fellowship of (Anonymous Alcoholics) at his destination.” (page 162)

fellow, fellows, fellowship, fellowships

Preface to Third Edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous
The second edition…the chief change was in the section of personal stories, which was expanded to reflect the Fellowship’s growth.
NoNameYet note: As there mentioned, “the Fellowship” is really more like an overall, ad-hoc “society” of recovered alcoholics actually recognizable or identifiable only by their respective memberships within our autonomous A.A. fellowship groups as “organism”, not organization.

Foreword to First Edition
When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as “a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Foreword to Second Edition
Figures given in this foreword describe the Fellowship as it was in 1954.

Our earliest printing voiced the hope “that every alcoholic who journeys will find the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous at his destination.”
NoNameYet note: As dependent upon context, that is not true. Please see the excerpt below from page 162.

We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene.

Foreword to Third Edition
In spite of the great increase in the size and the span of this Fellowship, at its core it remains simple and personal.

The Doctor’s Opinion
“…present his (Bill W.’s) conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others…has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families.”
William D. Silkworth, M.D.

Chapter 1: Bill’s Story
Disappointed but curious, I wondered what had got into the fellow. (page 9)

“We commenced to make many fast friends and a fellowship has grown up among us of which it is a wonderful thing to feel a part…”
We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek. (page 15)

Chapter 2: There Is A Solution
…there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. (page 17)

“That fellow can’t handle his liquor.” (page 20)

Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control…
He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. (page 20)

He is the fellow who goes to bed so intoxicated he ought to sleep the clock around. (page 21)

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. (page 25)

Chapter 3: More About Alcoholism
Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. (page 30)

“We admit we have some of these symptoms, but we have not gone to the extremes you fellows did, nor are we likely to, for we understand ourselves so well after what you have told us that such things cannot happen again.” (page 38)

Let him tell you about it: “I was much impressed with what you fellows said about alcoholism, and I frankly did not believe it would be possible for me to drink again..
“I rather appreciated your ideas about the subtle insanity which precedes the first drink, but I was confident it could not happen to me after what I had learned…
“I reasoned I was not so far advanced as most of you fellows, that I had been usually successful in licking my other personal problems, and that I would therefore be successful where you men failed.” (page 40)

Chapter 4: We Agnostics
About half of our original fellowship were of exactly that type. (page 44)

Many times we talk to a new man and watch his hope rise as we discuss his alcoholic problems and explain our fellowship (as a “sufficient substitute”). (page 45)

Chapter 5: How It Works
Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. (page 62)

Chapter 6: Into Action
More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life…presents his stage character…the one he likes his fellows to see. (page 73)

“I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows…”
Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. (page 76)

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. (page 84)

Chapter 7: Working With Others
To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. (page 89)

You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as part of their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you. (page 90)

On your first visit tell him about the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 94)

Offer him friendship and fellowship. (page 95)

One of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half dozen prospects. (page 96)

Chapter 9: The Family Afterward
…on earth…is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done. (page 130)

Most (fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds) give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. (page 133)

Chapter 10: To Employers
…the vice president of a large industrial concern…remarked: “I’m mighty glad you fellows got over your drinking.” (page 148)

Chapter 11: A Vision For You
It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous
Thus we find the Fellowship, and so will you…
High and low, rich and poor, these are future fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 152)

They will approach still other sick ones and fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous may spring up in each city and hamlet, havens for those who must find a way out…
Perhaps the best way of treating you to a glimpse of your future will be to describe the growth of the fellowship among us. (page 153)

Two days later, a future fellow of Alcoholics Anonymous stared glassily at the strangers beside his bed…
“Who are you fellows, and why this private room?…
“You fellows know your stuff all right, but I don’t see what good it’ll do. You fellows are somebody…”
Said the future Fellow Anonymous: “Damn little to laugh about that I can see.” (page 157)

…a devil-may-care young fellow whose parents could not make out whether he wanted to stop drinking or not. (page 158)

“The way you fellows put this spiritual stuff makes sense…” So one more was added to the Fellowship.
They shared their homes, their slender resources, and gladly devoted their spare hours to fellow-sufferers. (page 159)

Aside from fellowship and sociability, the prime object (for setting apart one night a week for a meeting to be attended by anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life) was to provide a time and place where new people might bring their problems. (pages 159-160)

A community thirty miles away has fifteen fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. Being a large place, we think that some day its Fellowship will number many hundreds. (page 161)

Some day we hope that every alcoholic who journeys will find a Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous at his destination. (page 162)

So our fellow worker will soon have friends galore. Some of them may sink and perhaps never get up, but if our experience is a criterion, more than half of those approached will become fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 163)

God…will show you how to create the fellowship you crave.
Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows… We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. (page 164)

Introduction to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
“Bill W., who along with Dr. Bob S. founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, wrote (‘Alcoholics Anonymous’) to share 18 years of collective experience within the Fellowship on how A.A. members recover, and how our society functions.”
“In recent years some members and friends of A.A. have asked if it would be wise to update the language, idioms, and historical references in the book to present a more contemporary image for the Fellowship. However, because the book has helped so many alcoholics find recovery, there exists strong sentiment within the Fellowship against any change to it. In fact, the 2002 General Service Conference discussed this issue and it was unanimously recommended that: ‘The text in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, written by Bill W., remain as is, recognizing the Fellowship’s feelings that Bill’s writing be retained as originally published.'”

“We hope that the collective spiritual experience of the A.A. pioneers captured in these pages continues to help alcoholics and friends of A.A. understand the principles of our program.”

Foreword to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of more than one hundred thousand alcoholic men and women who are banded together to solve their common problems and to help fellow sufferers in recovery from that age-old, baffling malady, alcoholism.”

“A.A.’s Twelve Traditions apply to the life of the Fellowship itself.”

“How can a set of traditional principles, having no legal force at all, hold the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous in unity and effectiveness? The second section of this volume, though designed for A.A.’s membership, will give such inquirers an inside view of A.A. never before possible.”

“…a well-known surgeon and a New York broker. Both were severe cases of alcoholism and were destined to become co-founders of the A.A. Fellowship.”

“The basic principles of A.A., as they are known today, were borrowed mainly from the fields of religion and medicine, though some ideas upon which success finally depended were the result of noting the behavior and needs of the Fellowship itself.”

“The book was called ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’, and from it the Fellowship took its name.”

“The book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ became the basic text of the Fellowship, and it still is.”

Borrowed A.A. “Big Book” Helps Turn The Tide For A Dying Loner

“If he shows interest, lend him your copy of this book…”
“…though you be but one man with this book in your hand
…it contains all you will need to begin.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous“, pages 94, 162-163)

Joe’s Story

By the time I was 31 and throughout that summer of 1981, I was a dying loner who had a desire to stop drinking and smoking dope forever…but I could not.  I had never heard anything about “the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it − this utter inability to leave it alone…” (page 34), but I was experiencing it.  No matter how hard or how often I had tried,  cried, prayed or whatever else, I just could not “put the plug in the jug” and leave it there.  If you have ever tried to stop drinking forever and have failed, and especially if you have repeatedly failed at one-day-at-a-time abstinence like I did, I hope this story of permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism might interest you.  I needed something far greater than anything human to overcome my inability to stop drinking and stay stopped, and there is where the anonymous alcoholics who wrote “Alcoholics Anonymous” freely show the way onto an uncanny path and its plan for recovery that can completely-and-permanently eliminate ever again having to take a drink.

I have always been a loner, and I believe I was born that way.  From as far back as I can remember, I have never truly felt (at least not for very long) like I actually “belong” anywhere − not even within my own family − and few things ever said or done by anyone have ever permanently convinced me otherwise beyond the level of intellect.  In fact, some of the attentions afforded me and even some sincere efforts people have made to welcome me into their lives have resulted in an even-greater sense of insecurity when I did not know how to respond or to at least act in return.  Clinically, that is called “a lack of social or emotional intelligence”.  In A.A. parlance, we can help keep things simple by just speaking of our “grave emotional or mental disorders” (page 58) in the overall sense.  But no matter what words any of us might choose, the Steps can still bring anyone having “the capacity to be honest” (page 58) into spiritual sanity within “the Fellowship of the Spirit” (page 164) so we no longer have to find ourselves drinking for escape or for relief of the symptoms or consequences of our being or feeling so different from so many people.

Along that kind of line, one “social goof” of my past that comes to mind these 50-some years later took place at a neighbor’s birthday party when I was a young boy.  I was thrilled to have been invited, thinking something like, “Well, maybe today is the day the tide turns for me and I fit in well and everyone accepts me.”  All seemed fine for a time at that party that day, and especially since I only had to act like “just one among the many” while everyone but the birthday boy stood watching and chattering a bit as he opened his gifts…but then it was like my fate was sealed as my eyes lit up along with his at the sight of his shiny new baseball bat.  To my surprise, he quickly agreed when I asked whether I might be the one to carry his new bat out for him when we all went out to play.  My actual thought was to be the first to arrive at the field so I could take a few swings on my own, and I wanted to do that because I was never any good at hitting a pitched ball and sometimes not even chosen to play at all.  Well, that new bat was soon ruined by my using it to propel the several rocks I was picking up before someone noticed what I was doing and told my neighbor friend who immediately took his freshly-dented bat away and told me to go home.

A few years later in my early ‘teens and while out on the school playground, I was elated when a popular girl invited me to join in during some recess basketball.  But then when I fell just a moment later and split the seat of my pants from stem to stern, I next had to “scoot-scurry away” from public view and look for some kind of makeshift cover for my exposed underwear.  So overall, and no matter who had ever been however nice, and no matter how hard I had ever tried to get free of stomach butterflies and remain that way, being the misunderstood misfit, social oddball or four-eyed weirdo has always seemed my unique lot in life.  Even some of the people I used to think were naturally or even justifiably unlikable − bullies were the worst, of course − often at least appeared to me as being more content and secure in life than I had ever felt.

The challenges of adulthood and their farther-reaching consequences were just as unmanageable for me as those of my childhood, and with my nose pressed to one side of the glass or the other is how life was for me on the inside as well as out in my natural state for many years until just a few seconds after my first drink of alcohol at age twenty-four.  Like I have heard a few A.A. long-timers share, “Alcohol took me from the pit of nothingness and almost made me feel like a somebody while keeping me alive just long enough to get here with you.”  Once discovered, alcohol quickly became my “bottled magic” for filling my internal holes and my “magic candle” for lighting my boiler’s fire…and I became obsessed with the pursuit of some “maintenance drinking” − to “control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker” (page 30) − to try to sustain its pleasurable effects.  Some folks conditioned for “intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution” (which is “not helpful to anyone” (page 103)) might want to skip over these next few words, but here is what ethyl alcohol used to do for me:

Whenever I took a couple of drinks…
1. I was amazed before I was half-way through.
2. I suddenly knew freedom and a new happiness.
3. I no longer regretted anything past nor tried to shut the door on it.
4. I could comprehend the word “serenity” and know a little peace.
5. I believed my experience could benefit others.
6. My feelings of uselessness and self-pity would disappear.
7. I would lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in my fellows.
8. Self-seeking would slip away.
9. My entire perspective, attitude and outlook upon life would change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity would leave me.
11. I would intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle me.
12. I realized alcohol could do for me what I had never been able to do for myself.

So, and while completely unaware of “glass in hand, we have warped our minds into such an obsession for destructive drinking that only an act of Providence can remove it from us” (12 & 12, Step One), I drank it.

Along with trying to maintain my new-found, alcohol-induced sense of ease and comfort, I also wished to only ever drink safely, of course.  I had never known any troubled drinkers personally, but I did know about one of my dad’s uncles dying from “consumption” in his forties, and I also knew of the sufferings of the family of a man I had heard was a mean drunk.  From certain scenes in old movies, however, my biggest concern was that I never find myself homeless at the end of a dark alley somewhere with nothing but a bottle of cheap wine in a paper sack.  So, and while trying to learn to drink at all − pouring warm malt liquor over ice in a glass was a bad idea, I discovered − my drinking began with my hoping and trying to be certain I would only ever drink with complete control.  Years later I learned normal drinkers almost never even think about that.  Being normal, they just drink as much or as little as they wish each time they drink at all, then stop and return to whatever else they do until the next time they have a few.

Having two drinks per day for the effect − two beers per evening with at least an hour in-between − without feeling any need, urge, craving or compulsion to reach for more was no problem for me for about the first two years of my drinking.  I definitely thought about my upcoming drinks each day, and my anticipation of what they would do for me was usually sufficient for keeping my butterflies manageable and my life-hopes steady or even growing throughout the day.  I secured a prestigious job I had been wanting for a long time, and that led to my being invited to join a softball team where I became the first off the bench in my favorite position as a catcher.  A life-long acquaintance offered me a land contract for a nice house with plenty of room for my young family, and I was even able to obtain a loan for a new car.  I had always been told I had great aptitude and potential in life, but I never would have suspected that by adding alcohol I had begun employing an invisible “alloy of drink and speculation…that one day would turn in its flight like a boomerang and all but cut me to ribbons” (page 2).

I had my first blackout − alcohol-induced amnesia, as I call that − during my third year of drinking.  I had not completely forgotten my two-drinks-per-day limit, and I did still occasionally manage to keep it to try to convince myself I still had full control over my drinking.  However, my overall experience with being able to drink more than two and still make it to work the next day seemed to suggest my “limit” could safely be changed to “as long as I can still function tomorrow”.  I vaguely remember my smoking pot for the first time during the evening of that first blackout, but none of whatever else someone later said I had done at that neighborhood Euchre party could be found anywhere within my conscious memory.  Little did I know my waking up and looking for evidence of things I could never recall would eventually become my norm.

As unexpectedly as a lightning bolt on a clear summer day, my entire life and the confidence and security I had added via my “alloy of drink and speculation” went sour at the beginning of my twenty-eighth year of breathing…and my drinking had nothing to do with that.  My prestigious job in its fast-paced market had become so challenging that I actually wanted out of it, yet my fear of looking and feeling like a failure beyond anything alcohol could have covered had been keeping me strapped to it.  There was no lightning in any of that, of course, but then my hearing of a personal offense I would never have expected from my boss or from anyone at all made my sky fall.  To retaliate without risking personal harm, I drove out to work that evening while knowing no one would be there and I set fire to the building.  A kind judge later viewed my arson as “a crime of passion” and was as lenient as he could lawfully be throughout his handlings of my case, a plea bargain, my sentencing, incarceration, probation and ultimate release.  My own initial thought of a defense through all of that was to plead “temporary insanity”, and I had visited a nearby mental heath center in an attempt to investigate that as a possibility.  Following a therapist’s (a Master of Social Work) assessment, I was told the folks at that facility could not help me in court.  However, someone there did suggest I might return for some personal counseling…and thus was the stage set for my eventual hearing of an answer as to why I could not stop drinking.

Prison life without alcohol would have been impossible for me without the Thorazine prescribed by one of the psychiatrists at the mental health center I had been visiting, but it took a prison psychiatrist’s order to make it available while I was in that institution.  There was one occasion when a fellow inmate displayed a small bottle of my favorite whiskey, but he was offering to share it with others also − that fellow must have been a normal drinker − and I knew better than to light a fire without having any additional fuel at hand for stoking it.  After being transferred to a work release center not long after the beginning of my incarceration, I again had easy access to alcohol and pot…and then one of the guards at that place suggested I stop taking the Thorazine because of its adverse, long-term effects.  Walking into that facility drunk at the end of a work day never brought any trouble for me, and I might always only wonder whether that guard understood.  In my own experience, locking an alcoholic up only worsens his or her “sufferingly sober” misery while also interrupting the experience needed so he or she might eventually develop a desire to stop altogether.

Following my release from State custody, my young family was broken and I was alone.  So, a friend who had helped me secure the work-release job offered me a place to sleep in his basement.  Having a business of his own, my kind friend also hired me as his part-time helper for the completion of a project he had been commissioned to do for someone else…and then upon the completion of that work, its owner hired me as his Plant Manager.  “Success”, at least in the material sense, and a bit of prestige again seemed present on my horizon.  However, the ever-increasing pain of my loneliness cried out for ever-increasing amounts of alcohol to cover it, and it did not take long for me to decide a fresh start in a new place − a “geographical cure”, as I know that today − might be best.  As written in the parking lot of a bar while awaiting a no-show companion I had hoped might accompany me…

“To Florida I am going, that’s south,
“With a bottle and a joint in my mouth.
“And I’ll ne’er be back o’er that south’n-bound track
“Until I finish this poem…
“And I have no intention of doing that.”

I knew it was wrong to altogether abandon my two young daughters, but my social ignorance kept me from being part of their lives that were now beyond the care and direction I had never been able to provide for them even while my young family was still together.  Rather than ever being a nurturing father, I was far more of a child, myself.  So as I drove out of that empty parking lot that day, and with tears streaming, I also prayed something like this:

“Father, I know what I am doing is wrong, but I do not know what else to do.  If you can, and if you will, please keep me alive until whatever is ahead has ended and someone can teach me how to live.”

— note: This is my current edit point as I write, but you can continue reading my bits and pieces, if you wish…

Near the end of September in 1981, I found myself sitting at a bar nursing a beer during the early-morning hours after yet another highly-dreaded “last call” at the end of a wet week.  The bar was closing, the bottle in my old truck was empty and I was broke…but the liquor stores would not be opening back up that day anyway.  As I sat there pondering myself and my life, I knew I was at the edge of some kind of long, dark tunnel dropping down into nothingness…and I also knew there was nothing I could do about that.  I had given life my best shot and had failed.  I still had a few moral convictions, a job, a place to live and some old ideas about how life should be, of course, but I also knew I was headed toward an early grave.

“I…had a desire to stop drinking and smoking dope forever…”

“I…definitely had a desire to stop…but I could not.”

I had heard about a man who had asked someone to let me know he was “sober”.

Freeman had once been my therapist, and I decided to go see him even though I had never known him as a drinker.  Wanting to be sure I would be sober when I saw him, and while knowing I could not stop drinking long enough to do that, I got up from that bar-stool and walked into a nearby police station while smoking a joint.  “Lock me up and do not let me out until I get help”, I said, then handed them my bag of pot and added, “Here’s my ticket.”  Those officers obliged me, of course, and they even let me finish that joint while fingerprinting me!  When I later asked them about that, one of them said, “We had no idea what kind of person or situation we might have had on our hands, and we just wanted to get you into a cell quietly without any unnecessary problems or trouble.”  Me too…and then I spent the next couple of days sobering up on their dry doughnuts and bad coffee.

After court had opened at the beginning of the new week, a kind judge released me so I could make an appointment and go see Freeman, the man I had heard was sober.  I could not keep myself from drinking for the duration, but I did manage to not be completely drunk when I walked into his office a few days later.  After a bit of chat to catch up after having not seen each other in quite a while, our fellow had just one question for me:

“Joe, do you have a desire to stop drinking?”
“I have to.”
“That is not what I asked.  Do you have a desire to stop drinking?”
“I’ve got to!  I can’t go on this way!”
“That is not what I am asking you, Joe.  Do you have a desire to stop drinking?”

I surely did, but I was afraid to say so.  I knew I could not, and I was horrified by the thought he might say something like “Don’t drink” if I answered him.  But since he was obviously not going to change his question and I was looking for help, I said these three things together very quickly so he would not have time to interrupt me with anything even close to something as impossible for me as “Don’t drink”:

“Yes, I want to, but I can’t.  Why not?”
“Because you are alcoholic”, he answered.

I was shocked and relieved at the same time.  I had never held a bottle of cheap wine in a paper sack, so I was shocked at hearing him call me “alcoholic”.  But at the same time, I was grateful somebody finally seemed to have some kind of label for whatever was wrong inside me.

“What should I do about that?”, I asked.
“Go to A.A., read the A.A. ‘Big Book’ and get an A.A. sponsor to help you follow its A.A. directions.”

He might not have actually said “A.A.” four times there, but that is the essence of what I heard in his answer and that is what works…and just in case you might be wondering: No, nothing even close to “Don’t drink” can be found anywhere within that book.  Rather, “We have not even sworn off.  Instead, the problem has been removed.  It does not exist for us.  We are neither cocky nor are we afraid.  That is our experience.  That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.” (“A.A.”, the book, page 85)

(2) My mother heard my cry and loaned me her copy of the A.A. “Big Book”.  She suggested I “read this book through” (as first hoped by Dr. Silkworth in “The Doctor’s Opinion”) so I could intelligently decide for myself about whether or not to accept its “combined experience and knowledge” (page 19) as my own “useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.”  That decision was difficult for me at that time while still fearing the possibility of yet another dead-end path, but “book in hand” right there in my misery is where my lifetime encounter with permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism began…

…and that is how I began learning the certainty of my long-suspected and very-real need for an “It never fails” (Dr. Bob) kind of solution such as could never have come from me, from you or from any other human being.  Apart from whatever Power there might actually be that really is far greater than even all of us together, most chronic alcoholics seem doomed to die one-debacle-at-a-time with few people ever understanding how or why that happens.  Truly, “So many want to stop but cannot” (page 25), and I used to be that kind of drinker.

I had been going to as many as fifteen meetings per week for several months during my first “sufferingly-sober” year in A.A. and while looking for someone who could help me understand and actually do the things shared in our Basic Text so I could recover from chronic alcoholism and never again end up drinking again…and then a friend who had been to a Charlie-and-Joe “Big Book Seminar” in an O.A. setting came to me with three tapes from that seminar and I spent the next three days in “tears of joy” — tears always come from something having been frustrated for a period of time, you know — while listening to those tapes over and over again as those two men explained things in ways I could never have figured out on my own.
… more to be added …

Basic Text comparisons to original manuscript

In June of 1938, and after having embraced a solution for chronic alcoholism, some alcoholics who had previously believed themselves hopeless now knew the reality of permanent recovery. We do know they had yet to begin using the word “permanent”, but their new-found knowledge of “hopeless” having been nothing greater than a misconstrued feeling is certainly evidenced here:

“We…have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous“, Foreword to First Edition)

Discovery of truths by learning to live within truth can set people free.
–  NoNameYet  –

Seizing each new opportunity to try to be helpful to still others, those same people had also begun saying this amongst themselves:

“If we keep on the [word-of-mouth] way we are going there is little doubt much good will result, but the surface of the problem would hardly be scratched…hundreds…dropping into oblivion…could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed. How then shall we present that which has been so freely given us?
“We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume…our combined experience and knowledge…a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.” (page 19)

As an aside here, please notice that precise order… 1: combined experience; 2: knowledge. These people had not “knowledged” their individual ways into various new manners of living, they had commonly lived their way – “a simple religious idea (Step Three) and a practical program of action (Steps Four through Nine)” (page 9) – into “a revolutionary change in their (now-common) way of living and thinking” (page 50).

By December of that year, those early A.A.s had a “working manuscript” for their book. They printed a number of multilith copies for review by members and select others…and all of that ultimately helped formulate the final text of “Alcoholics Anonymous”, the book, as we know it today.

From A.A. World Services in reference to these comparisons we offer: “…we would have no objection to the production of a few copies of such a work.” (February 23, 1987, letter on file)

With corrections where we had missed edits and made typos, here is our online copy of our 1993 comparison between the Third Edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous” – the A.A. “Big Book” – and its pre-publication multilith.

a line-by-line comparison between
Alcoholics Anonymous
and its pre-publication manuscript
dedicated to
those who trudge the Road of Happy Destiny
in memory of
those who first blazed the trail
with hope for
those who may yet seek our way


~ ~ ~ technical notes ~ ~ ~
Q: Why are line lengths different here than in the book?
A: Adding brackets, edits, removals and additions within
the text causes some lines to grow too long (too wide)
for display on a line otherwise printable on any page,
and the same is true for printable page lengths. The
page numbers you see here are the same as in the book,
but the lengths of these HTML "pages" vary greatly.
Much care has been taken to assure the accuracy of this
line-by-line comparison, and please let us know if you
might happen to notice any errors or typos on our part!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Dr. Bob's "prescription" for the real alcoholic
First Edition (Eighth Printing) Dust Jacket


A L C O H O L I C ' S
Published by:
Works Publishing Co.,
17 William St.,
Newark, N. J.

Here is a link to our entire comparison as a single web page:

Entire Line-by-Line Comparison

Here are links to our chapter-by-chapter comparisons:

Foreword to First Edition (comparison)
The Doctor’s Opinion (comparison)
Bill’s Story (comparison)
There is a Solution (comparison)
More About Alcoholism (comparison)
We Agnostics (comparison)
How It Works (comparison)
Into Action (comparison)
Working With Others (comparison)
To Wives (comparison)
The Family Afterward (comparison)
To Employers (comparison)
A Vision For You (comparison)
Appendix to First Edition

Here is a download link for the entire comparison:
note: Some format editing will be required prior to printing.

Foreword to First Edition (comparison)

Comparing “Foreword to First Edition” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text

Comparison Format — Colors appear here only and are — — not used in the actual comparisons. — Words above brackets are from the pre-publication version. < Bracketed copy is from our Basic Text as it reads today. > ~ Format Examples ~
Rarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >...
~ ~ ~
Now we think you can take it! < — — — — — > Here are the steps we took...
~ ~ ~
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our — — — — — — < conscious > contact with God < as we understood Him >...
~ ~ ~

FOREWORD < TO FIRST EDITION > < This is the Foreword as it appeared in the > < first printing of the first edition in 1939 >
We, of < WE, OF > Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW THEY CAN RECOVER < precisely how we have recovered > is the main purpose of think this book. For them, we < hope > these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. hope We < think > this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not yet he < > comprehend that < the alcoholic > is a very sick person. new living And besides, we are sure that our < > way of < life > has its advantages for all. It is important that we remain anonymous because , we are too few, at present < > to handle the overwhelming will number of personal appeals which < may > result from this publication. Being mostly business or professional well folk < , > we could not < > carry on our occupations clearly in such an event. We would like it < > understood only, so that that our alcoholic work is an avocation < . > when < When > writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal A Member name, designating himself instead as "< a member > of Alcoholics Anonymous." Very earnestly we ask the press also, to observe this request, for otherwise we shall be greatly handicapped. We are not an organization in the conventional

(glimpse of the original ‘working manuscript’ for these two pages)

sense of the word.  There are no fees < or > dues             
whatsoever.  The only requirement for membership is an        
honest desire to stop drinking.  We are not allied with       
any particular faith, sect or denomination, nor do we         
oppose anyone.  We simply wish to be helpful to those         
who are afflicted.                                            

     We shall be interested to hear from those who are        
getting results from this book, particularly from those       
who have commenced work with other alcoholics.  We            
   shall try            contact                               
< should like > to < be helpful to > such cases.              

     Inquiry by scientific, medical, and religious societies  
will be welcomed.                                             

     (This multilith volume will be sent upon receipt         
     <                                                >       
 of $3.50, and the printed book will be mailed, at no         
<                                                    >        
 additional cost, as soon as published.)                      
<                                       >                     

                                  ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS < . >  

e-aa discussion of Foreword to First Edition

The Doctor’s Opinion (comparison)

Comparing “The Doctor’s Opinion” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text

Comparison Format — Colors appear here only and are — — not used in the actual comparisons. — Words above brackets are from the pre-publication version. < Bracketed copy is from our Basic Text as it reads today. > ~ Format Examples ~
Rarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >...
~ ~ ~
Now we think you can take it! < — — — — — > Here are the steps we took...
~ ~ ~
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our — — — — — — < conscious > contact with God < as we understood Him >...
~ ~ ~

We of < WE OF > Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the reader will be interested in the medical estimate of the plan of recovery described in this book. Convincing testimony must surely come from medical men who have had experience with the sufferings of our members and have witnessed our return to health. A well-known doctor, chief physician at a nation- ally prominent hospital specializing in alcoholic and drug addiction, gave Alcoholics Anonymous this letter: To Whom It May Concern: I have specialized in the treatment of alcoholism for many years. About four years ago < In late 1934 > I attended a patient who, though he had been a competent businessman of good earning capa- city, was an alcoholic of a type I had come to regard as hopeless. In the course of his third treatment he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. As part of his rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others. This has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families. This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered. thirty these I personally know < scores > of < > cases who were of the type with whom other methods had failed completely. These facts appear to be of extreme medical importance; because of the extraordinary possibilities of rapid


  growth inherent in this group they < may > mark a new       
  epoch in the annals of alcoholism.  These men may well      
  have a remedy for thousands of such situations.             

     You may rely absolutely on anything they say about       

                            Very truly yours,        
                         (Signed) - - - - - - -      
                       < William D. Silkworth, > M.D.

     The physician who, at our request, gave us this letter,  
has been kind enough to enlarge upon his views in another     
statement which follows.  In this statement he confirms what  
 anyone         has                                           
<  we  > who < have > suffered alcoholic torture must be-     

lieve – that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal   
as his mind.  It < did > not satisfy us to be told that we    
< could not > control our drinking just because we were mal-  
adjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality,   
or were outright mental defectives.  These things were true   
to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some   
of us.  But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well.
In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out  
this physical factor is incomplete.                           

                                       a kind of              
     The doctor's theory that we have <   an    > allergy     

to alcohol interests us.  As laymen, our opinion as to its    
soundness may, of course, mean little.  But as < ex-problem > 
< drinkers >, we can say that his explanation makes good      
sense.  It explains many things for which we cannot other-    
wise account.                                                 

     Though we work out our solution on the spiritual < as >  

< well as an altruistic > plane, we favor hospitalization for 
the alcoholic who is very jittery or befogged.  More often    
than not, it is imperative that a man's brain be cleared be-  
fore he is approached, as he has then a better                


chance of understanding and accepting what we have to offer.  

     The doctor writes:                                       

     The subject presented in this book seems to me to be     
  of paramount importance to those afflicted with alcoholic   

     I say this after many years' experience as Medical       
  Director of one of the oldest hospitals in the country      
  treating alcoholic and drug addiction.                      

     There was, therefore, a sense of real satisfaction when  
  I was asked to contribute a few words on a subject which    
  is covered in such masterly detail in these pages.          

     We doctors have realized for a long time that some form  
  of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, 
  but its application presented difficulties beyond our con-  
  ception.  What with our ultra-modern standards, our scien-  
  tific approach to everything, we are perhaps not well       
  equipped to apply the powers of good that lie outside our   
  synthetic knowledge.                                        

      About four                                              
     <   Many   > years ago one of the leading contributors   
  to this book came under our care in this hospital and       
  while here he acquired some ideas which he put into         
  practical application at once.                              

     Later, he requested the privilege of being allowed to    
  tell his story to other patients here and <       > with    
  some misgiving, we consented.  The cases we have followed   
  through have been most interesting; in fact, many of them   
  are amazing.  The unselfishness of these men as we have     
  come to know them, the entire absence of profit motive,     
  and their community spirit, is indeed inspiring to one      
  who has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field.   
  They believe in themselves, and still more in the Power     
  which pulls chronic alcoholics back from the gates of       

     Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his        


  physical craving for liquor, and this often requires        
  a definite hospital procedure, before psychological         
  measures can be of maximum benefit.                         

     We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that       
  the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is        
  a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of       
  craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the    
  average temperate drinker.  These allergic types can never  
  safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having      
  formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once       
  having lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon      
  things human, their problems pile up on them and become     
  astonishingly difficult to solve.                           

     Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices.  The message    
  which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must     
  have depth and weight.  In nearly all cases, their ideals   
  must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if     
  they are to re-create their lives.                          

     If any feel that as psychiatrists directing a hospital   
  for alcoholics we appear somewhat sentimental, let them     
  stand with us a while on the firing line, see the trage-    
  dies, the despairing wives, the little children; let the    
  solving of these problems become a part of their daily      
  work, and even of their sleeping moments, and the most      
  cynical will not wonder that we have accepted and encou-    
  raged this movement.  We feel, after many years of experi-  
  ence, that we have found nothing which has contributed      
  more to the rehabilitation of these men than the            
  < altruistic > movement now growing up among them.          

     Men and women drink essentially because they like the    
  effect produced by alcohol.  The sensation is so elusive    
  that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after   
  a time differentiate the true from the false.  To them,     
  their alcoholic life seems the only normal one.  They are   
  restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can       


  again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes  
  at once by taking a few drinks – drinks which they see      
  others taking with impunity.  After they have succumbed to  
  the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of      
  craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages   
  of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution     
  not to drink again.  This is repeated over and over, and    
  unless this person can experience an entire psychic change  
  there is very little hope of his recovery.                  

     On the other hand – and strange as this may seem         
  to those who do not understand – once a psychic change      
  has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who   
  had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them, sud-
  denly finds himself easily able to control his desire for   
  alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to   
  follow a few simple rules.                                  

     Men have cried out to me in sincere and despairing       
  appeal: "Doctor, I cannot go on like this!  I have          
  everything to live for!  I must stop, but I cannot!         
  You must help me!"                                          

     Faced with this problem, if a doctor is honest with      
  himself, he must sometimes feel his own inadequacy.         
  Although he gives all that is in him, it often is not       
  enough.  One feels that something more than human power     
  is needed to produce the essential psychic change.  Though  
  the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric      
  effort is <       > considerable, we physicians must        
  admit we have made little impression upon the problem       
  as a whole.  Many types do not respond to the ordinary      
  psychological approach.                                     

     I do not hold with those who believe that alcoholism is  
  entirely a < problem of > mental < control >.  I have had   
  many men who had, for example, worked a period of months    
  on some problem or business deal which was to be settled    
  on a certain date, favorably to them.  They took a drink    
  a day or so prior to the date, and then the phenomenon of   
  craving at once became paramount to all other interests so  


  that the important appointment was not met.  These men      
  were not drinking to escape; they were drinking to over-    
  come a craving beyond their mental control.                 

     There are many situations which arise out of the phe-    
  nomenon of craving which cause men to make the supreme      
  sacrifice rather than continue to fight.                    

     The classification of alcoholics seems most difficult,   
  and in much detail is outside the scope of this book.       
  There are, of course, the <              > psychopaths who  
  are emotionally unstable.  We are all familiar with this    
  type.  They are always "going on the wagon for keeps."      
  They are over-remorseful and make many resolutions, but     
  never a decision.                                           

      Then there are those who are never properly adjusted    
     <                                                    >   
   to life, who are the so-called neurotics.  The prognosis   
  <                                                        >  
   of this type is unfavorable.                               
  <                            >                              

     There is the type of man who is unwilling to admit       
  that he cannot take a drink.  He plans various ways of      
  drinking.  He changes his brand or environment.  There      
  is the type who always believes that after being entirely   
  free from alcohol for a period of time he can take a drink  
  without danger.  There is the manic-depressive type, who    
  is, perhaps, the least understood by his friends, and       
  about whom a whole chapter could be written.                

     Then there are types entirely normal in every respect    
  except in the effect alcohol has upon them.  They are       
  often able, intelligent, friendly people.                   

     All these, and many others, have one symptom in common:  
  they cannot start drinking without developing the phenome-  
  non of craving.  This phenomenon, as we have suggested,     
  may be the manifestation of an allergy which differenti-    

  ates these people, < and > sets them apart as a distinct    
  entity.  It has never been, by any treatment with which     
  we are familiar, permanently eradicated.  The only relief   
  we have to suggest is entire abstinence.                    

     This immediately precipitates us into a seething         
  caldron of debate.  Much has been written pro and con,      
  but among physicians, the general opinion seems to be       
  that most chronic alcoholics are doomed.                    


     What is the solution?  Perhaps I can best answer this    
               an experience of two years ago                 
  by relating <    one of my experiences     >.               

     About one year prior to this experience a man was        
  brought in to be treated for chronic alcoholism.  He had    
  but partially recovered from a gastric hemorrhage and       
  seemed to be a case of pathological mental deterioration.   
  He had lost everything worthwhile in life and was only      
  living, one might say, to drink.  He frankly admitted and   
  believed that for him there was no hope.  Following the     
  elimination of alcohol, there was found to be no permanent  
  brain injury.  He accepted the plan outlined in this book.  
  One year later he called to see me, and I experienced a     
  very strange sensation.  I knew the man by name, and        
  partly recognized his features, but there all resemblance   
  ended.  From a trembling, despairing, nervous wreck, had    
  emerged a man brimming over with self-reliance and con-     
  tentment.  I talked with him for some time, but was not     
  able to bring myself to feel that I had known him before.   
                                                More than     
  To me he was a stranger, and so he left me.  <    A    >    
   three years have now                                       
  <   long time has    > passed with no return to alcohol.    

     When I need a mental uplift, I often think of another    
  case brought in by a physician prominent in New York        
  <    >.  The patient had made his own diagnosis, and        
  deciding his situation hopeless, had hidden in a deserted   
  barn determined to die.  He was rescued by a searching      

  party, and, in desperate condition, < was > brought to      
  me.  Following his physical rehabilitation, he had a talk   
  with me in which he frankly stated he thought the treat-    
  ment a waste of effort, unless I could assure him, which    
  no one ever had, that in the future he would have the       
  "will power" to resist the impulse to drink.                

     His alcoholic problem was so complex, and his depres-    
  sion so great, that we felt his only hope would be through  
  what we then called "moral psychology," and we doubted if   
  even that would have any effect.                            


     However, he did become "sold" on the ideas contained     
                                             more than three  
  in this book.  He has not had a drink for < a great many  > 
  years.  I see him now and then and he is as fine a specimen 
  of manhood as one could wish to meet.                       

     I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book     
  through, and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may re-    
  main to pray.                                               

                             < William D. Silkworth, M.D. >

e-aa discussion of The Doctor’s Opinion