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26, 1939 Cleveland Plain Dealer
Alcoholics Anonymous Makes
Its Stand Here
ELRICK B. DAVIS
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 him on.
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 any way.
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.
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