Alcoholics Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here
By ELRICK B. DAVIS
In previous installments, Mr. Davis has told of Alcoholics
Anonymous, an informal society of drinking men who have joined
together to beat the liquor habit This is the last of five articles.
It is hard for the skeptical to believe that no one yet has found
a way to muscle into Alcoholics Anonymous, the informal society
of ex-drunks that exists only to cure each other, and make a money-making
scheme of it. Or that someone will not. The complete informality
of the society seems to be what has saved it from that. Members
pay no dues. The society has no paid staff. Parties are "Dutch."
Meetings are held at the homes of members who have houses large
enough for such gatherings, or in homes of persons who may not
be alcoholics but are sympathetic with the movement.
Usually a drunk needs hospitalization at the time that he is caught
to cure. He is required to pay for that himself. Doubtless he
hasn't the money. But probably his family has. Or his employer
will advance the money to save him, against his future pay. Or
cured members of the society will help him arrange credit, if
he has a glimmer of credit left. Or old friends will help.
At the moment members of the Cleveland Fellowship of Alcoholics
Anonymous are searching the slum lodging houses to find a man,
once eminent in the city's professional life. A medical friend
of his better days called them in to find him. This friend will
pay the hospital bill necessary to return this victim of an "incurable"
craving for drink to physical health, if the society will take
The society has published a book, called "Alcoholics Anonymous,"
which it sells at $3.50. It may be ordered from an anonymous address,
Works Publishing Co., Box 657, Church Street Annex Postoffice,
New York City; or bought from the Cleveland Fellowship of the
society. There is no money profit for anyone in that book.
It recites the history of the society and lays down its principles
in its first half. Last half is case histories of representative
cures out of the first hundred alcoholics cured by membership
in the society. It was written and compiled by the New York member
who brought the society to Ohio. He raised the money on his personal
credit to have the book published. He would like to see those
creditors repaid. It is a 400-page book, for which any regular
publisher would charge the same price. Copies bought from local
Fellowships net the local chapters a dollar each.
The Rev. Dr. Dilworth Lupton, pastor of the First Unitarian Church
of Cleveland, found in a religious journal an enthusiastic review
of the book by the Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick, and sent it to
the president of the local Fellowship. It has been similarly noted
in some medical journals.
To handle the money that comes in for the book, and occasional
gifts from persons interested in helping ex-drunks to cure other
"incurable" drunks, the Alcoholics Foundation has been
established, with a board of seven directors.
Three of these are members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Four are not
alcoholics, but New Yorkers of standing interested in humane movements.
Two of them happen also to be associated with the Rockefeller
Foundation, but that does not associate the two foundations in
First problem of the Cleveland Fellowship was to find a hospital
willing to take a drunk in and give him the medical attention
first necessary to any cure. Two reasons made that hard. Hospitals
do not like to have alcoholics as patients; they are nuisances.
And the society requires that as soon as a drunk has been medicated
into such shape that he can see visitors, members of the society
must be permitted to see him at any time. That has been arranged.
The local society would like to have a kitty of $100 to post with
the hospital as evidence of good faith. But if it gets it, it
will only be from voluntary contributions of members.
Meantime the members, having financed their own cures, spend enormous
amounts of time and not a little money in helping new members.
Psychiatrists say that if an alcoholic is to be cured, he needs
a hobby. His old hobby had been only alcohol. Hobby of Alcoholics
Anonymous is curing each other. Telephone calls, postage and stationery,
gasoline bills, mount up for each individual. And hospitality
to new members. A rule of the society is that each member's latch
string is always out to any other member who needs talk or quiet,
which may include a bed or a meal, at any time.