||Shortly before his death in 1996, former Senator Harold Hughes of Iowa
asked Nancy Olson to write this book, telling the story of what they and
their friends had done to try to help the plight of alcoholics in the
United States. Olson, like Hughes a recovered alcoholic, had been involved
in the alcoholism field since 1965. In 1969, he appointed her to the staff
of the newly created Special Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Narcotics and
she served on Hughes' staff until he left the Senate in 1975. During this
period the epoch-making "Hughes Act" became law.|
the many alcoholics and their families who contacted Hughes' office for help,
she and the Senator in effect ran the first, albeit informal, Employee
Assistance Program for Members of Congress, their families, and their staffs.
They also counseled many high-ranking government and military personnel, and on
numerous occasions even strangers who walked in off the street.
Olson was re-appointed to the staff by Senator Harrison A. Williams of New
Jersey, and thus also was involved in drafting the 1976 and 1979 amendments to
the Hughes Act. During this period she also had primary staff responsibility for
congressional oversight of the activities of the National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
resigned from the Senate staff in 1980, after which she briefly served as a
part- time Washington representative for the Hazelden Foundation, while
preparing to enter a monastery of the Visitation of Holy Mary. In 1982, for
health reasons, she returned to secular life in Washington where she worked as a
legislative analyst and lobbyist until her retirement in 1995.
|During the latter part of her life she was a popular speaker on
alcoholism both nationally and internationally. In addition to writing
this book, as another of her retirement projects, in March of 2000, she
began a web group called the AA History Lovers which served as a clearing
house for dependable information on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous
for people all over the world. |
She enlisted the aid of some of the
best historians and archivists in the field to help her answer questions
on a wide variety of topics. By 2005 there were well over a thousand
members of the group, from a wide number of countries including the United
States, Canada, India, Mexico, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and
+ In Memoriam +
September 18, 1929 - March 25, 2005
Frazer A. Lang, review in the Addiction Professional
(January 2004), "Letter from the Publisher."
The book With
a Lot of Help from Our Friends: The Politics of Alcoholism . . . is a
compelling history of the time in the 1970s and '80s when much of the federal
government involvement in addiction treatment and prevention took root. The book
is authored by Nancy Olson, who served on the staffs of US Senators Harold
Hughes of Iowa and Harrison Williams of New Jersey and was immersed in the
effort to enlist government interest in alcoholism and drug dependence.
This book is full of detail but remains thoroughly readable. Those
involved in today's fight can learn much from past efforts.
me in this book were the frequent references to Jay Lewis, editor of The
Alcoholism Report, which for a time was published by Manisses and gave birth
to our Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly. Jay was the primary journalist
for the field and deserves great credit for providing the communications vehicle
that made advocacy and organizational efforts succeed.
Linda Farris Kurtz,
Eastern Michigan University, review for Amazon April 10, 2003.
As a person who teaches policy to students who are not very
interested in it, I greatly appreciate Nancy Olson's interesting and readable
account of public policy development for the alcoholism treatment field during
the latter half of the last century. Most of the public policy for this field in
our country has focused on law enforcement rather than humane and sensible
responses to addiction. Ms. Olson's book also reminds us that sweeping policy
change like the 1970 Hughes Act, which is the centerpiece of this book, actually
begins decades earlier and reverberates for years to come. This one act,
amazingly ushered into existence by a one term Senator, was a stunning victory
for those who care about really solving the alcohol addiction problem in our
I worked in the field when this legislation passed. I can
really appreciate the perspective of someone who was making things happen in
Washington at the same time that I was working with the OEO program in our
community developing community resources and getting people into AA, which was
all the real help there was at the time. It was facinating to see that side of
the action and to remember those promising days.
Linda Farris Kurtz,
Professor, Eastern Michigan University