THERE IS A SOLUTION
him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die
a few years before his time. If a sufﬁciently strong rea-
son—ill health, falling in love, change of environment,
or the warning of a doctor—becomes operative, this
man can also stop or moderate, although he may ﬁnd
it difﬁcult and troublesome and may even need med
But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off
as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a
continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his
drinking career he begins to lose all control of his
liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.
Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, espe
cially in his lack of control. He does absurd, incredi
ble, tragic things while drinking. He is a real Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated.
He is always more or less insanely drunk. His disposi
tion while drinking resembles his normal nature but
little. He may be one of the ﬁnest fellows in the world.
Yet let him drink for a day, and he frequently becomes
disgustingly, and even dangerously anti-social. He has
a positive genius for getting tight at exactly the wrong
moment, particularly when some important decision
must be made or engagement kept. He is often per
fectly sensible and well balanced concerning every
thing except liquor, but in that respect he is incredibly
dishonest and selﬁsh. He often possesses special abili
ties, skills, and aptitudes, and has a promising career
ahead of him. He uses his gifts to build up a bright
outlook for his family and himself, and then pulls the
structure down on his head by a senseless series of
sprees. He is the fellow who goes to bed so intoxicated
he ought to sleep the clock around. Yet early next
morning he searches madly for the bottle he misplaced
the night before. If he can afford it, he may have
liquor concealed all over his house to be certain no
one gets his entire supply away from him to throw
down the wastepipe. As matters grow worse, he be
gins to use a combination of high-powered sedative
and liquor to quiet his nerves so he can go to work.
Then comes the day when he simply cannot make it
and gets drunk all over again. Perhaps he goes to a
doctor who gives him morphine or some sedative with
which to taper off. Then he begins to appear at hos
pitals and sanitariums.
This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the
true alcoholic, as our behavior patterns vary. But this
description should identify him roughly.
Why does he behave like this? If hundreds of ex
periences have shown him that one drink means an
other debacle with all its attendant suffering and
humiliation, why is it he takes that one drink? Why
can’t he stay on the water wagon? What has become
of the common sense and will power that he still some
times displays with respect to other matters?
Perhaps there never will be a full answer to these
questions. Opinions vary considerably as to why the
alcoholic reacts differently from normal people. We
are not sure why, once a certain point is reached, little
can be done for him. We cannot answer the riddle.
We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from
drink, as he may do for months or years, he reacts
much like other men. We are equally positive that
once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system,
something happens, both in the bodily and mental
sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to
THERE IS A SOLUTION
stop. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly
These observations would be academic and point
less if our friend never took the ﬁrst drink, thereby
setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the
main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind,
rather than in his body. If you ask him why he started
on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you
any one of a hundred alibis. Sometimes these excuses
have a certain plausibility, but none of them really
makes sense in the light of the havoc an alcoholic’s
drinking bout creates. They sound like the philosophy
of the man who, having a headache, beats himself on
the head with a hammer so that he can’t feel the ache.
If you draw this fallacious reasoning to the attention
of an alcoholic, he will laugh it off, or become irri
tated and refuse to talk.
Once in a while he may tell the truth. And the
truth, strange to say, is usually that he has no more
idea why he took that ﬁrst drink than you have. Some
drinkers have excuses with which they are satisﬁed
part of the time. But in their hearts they really do not
know why they do it. Once this malady has a real
hold, they are a bafﬂed lot. There is the obsession that
somehow, someday, they will beat the game. But they
often suspect they are down for the count.
How true this is, few realize. In a vague way their
families and friends sense that these drinkers are ab
normal, but everybody hopefully awaits the day when
the sufferer will rouse himself from his lethargy and
assert his power of will.
The tragic truth is that if the man be a real alco
holic, the happy day may not arrive. He has lost
control. At a certain point in the drinking of every
alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most power
ful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail.
This tragic situation has already arrived in practically
every case long before it is suspected.
The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet ob
scure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-
called will power becomes practically nonexistent.
We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our con
sciousness with sufﬁcient force the memory of the suf
fering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.
We are without defense against the ﬁrst drink.
The almost certain consequences that follow taking
even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to
deter us. If these thoughts occur, they are hazy and
readily supplanted with the old threadbare idea that
this time we shall handle ourselves like other people.
There is a complete failure of the kind of defense that
keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove.
The alcoholic may say to himself in the most casual
way, “It won’t burn me this time, so here’s how!’’ Or
perhaps he doesn’t think at all. How often have some
of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after
the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to
ourselves, “For God’s sake, how did I ever get started
again?’’ Only to have that thought supplanted by
“Well, I’ll stop with the sixth drink.’’ Or “What’s the
When this sort of thinking is fully established in an
individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably
placed himself beyond human aid, and unless locked
up, may die or go permanently insane. These stark
and ugly facts have been conﬁrmed by legions of alco
THERE IS A SOLUTION
holics throughout history. But for the grace of God,
there would have been thousands more convincing
demonstrations. So many want to stop but cannot.
There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-
searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of
shortcomings which the process requires for its suc
cessful consummation. But we saw that it really
worked in others, and we had come to believe in the
hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living
it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in
whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing
left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual
tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven
and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of
existence of which we had not even dreamed.
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.
The central fact of our lives today is the absolute cer
tainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and
lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has
commenced to accomplish those things for us which
we could never do by ourselves.
If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we
believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. We were
in a position where life was becoming impossible, and
if we had passed into the region from which there is
no return through human aid, we had but two alterna
tives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out
the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best
we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This
*Fully explained—Appendix II.
we did because we honestly wanted to, and were will
ing to make the effort.
A certain American business man had ability, good
sense, and high character. For years he had ﬂoundered
from one sanitarium to another. He had consulted the
best known American psychiatrists. Then he had gone
to Europe, placing himself in the care of a celebrated
physician (the psychiatrist, Dr. Jung) who prescribed
for him. Though experience had made him skeptical,
he ﬁnished his treatment with unusual conﬁdence.
His physical and mental condition were unusually
good. Above all, he believed he had acquired such a
profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind
and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable.
Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time. More
bafﬂing still, he could give himself no satisfactory ex
planation for his fall.
So he returned to this doctor, whom he admired,
and asked him point-blank why he could not recover.
He wished above all things to regain self-control. He
seemed quite rational and well-balanced with respect
to other problems. Yet he had no control whatever
over alcohol. Why was this?
He begged the doctor to tell him the whole truth,
and he got it. In the doctor’s judgment he was utterly
hopeless; he could never regain his position in society
and he would have to place himself under lock and
key or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long.
That was a great physician’s opinion.
But this man still lives, and is a free man. He does
not need a bodyguard nor is he conﬁned. He can go
anywhere on this earth where other free men may go
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