JACOB BEN ABRAHAM The name given here for the author is a pen name, as well as the rarely used Jewish name for a convert to Judaism, an old man who wrote this article. He (I) believes that he should preserve his “anonymity at the level of press, radio and film”, a phrase taken from the traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. He is the son of an alcoholic who died young from the effects of alcoholic drinking, the identical twin of a brother who also died young from alcoholism. He is an ardent and active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, a fellowship which he credits with saving his own life nearly forty years ago.

During nearly 80 years of observing alcoholics and efforts to help alcoholics, the author has acquired some very strong opinions about what approach tends to help most. Indeed he has. And the clearest and strongest of those opinions are these four simple and closely related statements about alcoholics, and four other simple and related opinions about the nature of alcoholism.

First the statements about the problem of alcoholism.

(1) The most obvious problem alcoholics share is that they drink far too much for their health and welfare once they begin to drink. In other words they do not have effective control over the ammount of consumption or the consequences.

(1) Alcoholics who have recovered from the problem of alcoholism do not drink alcohol, and have not drank alcohol in a long time.

(2) Most of these alcoholics who don’t drink have been members of Alcoholics Anonymous

(3) Most of these sober alcoholics have been freely given help in Alcoholics Anonymous from other alcoholics who have also recovered.

(4) Alcoholics who have recovered are uniquely able to help alcoholics who are struggling to achieve and maintain sobriety.

There are now many corporations in the business of helping alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Virtually none of them focus on alcoholics specifically Virtually all of these corporations also purport to treat drug addiction and abuse in programs described as “rehabs”. The inpatient rehab is a program with a patient population that can fit comfortably in a classroom sized setting. A variety of substance abuse problems face members of the patient population. Typically alcoholics compose only a minority of the group, with individuals who don’t even have a history of problems as a result of excessive drinking. Many of the patients are likely to be between arrest and sentencing for drug possession and sale charges. Others may have histories of near death from drug overdoses. numerous previous stays in mental hospitals or residential drug programs for problems other than alcoholism. These programs use AA meetings as therapy for their alcoholic and nonalcoholic patients alike. Court probation programs and “Accountability Court” programs frequently require the subject offenders to attend AA meetings and to get the chair person of the meeting to verify their attendance.

Sadly these corporation and courts both add to the original purposes and subtract from AA’s ability to achieve those purposes.

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