So how did AA gain such a place of privilege in American health-culture? How did a regimen so overtly religious in nature, with a 31 percent success rate at best, a five to 10 percent success rate at worst, and a five percent overall retention rate become the most trusted method of addiction-treatment in the country, and arguably the world? And he begins at the very beginning. According to Dodes, when the Big Book was first published in , it was met with wide skepticism in the medical community.
It is all surface material. Which they did, with aplomb, largely by manufacturing an establishment for addiction scholarship and advocacy that did not previously exist. They created a space for AA to dictate the conversation. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, one of the foremost American advocacy-agencies for recovering addicts, was founded in by Marty Mann—a wealthy and well-connected Chicago debutante, and the first female member of AA.
The Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University, an international leader in alcoholism-related research, was founded at Yale in under the direction of E. Morton Jellinek. Jellinek, the author of several seminal texts on alcoholism and an eventual WHO consultant on the condition, placed AA-founder and Big Book author Bill Wilson on the faculty—a man who claimed to have been cured of his own alcoholism not through the progress of scientific research, but by divine intervention.
National Institutes of Health. This brings us to the present: an addiction-treatment landscape envisioned and engineered almost entirely by AA.
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TSF is the law of the land. If you have a drinking problem in , or a drug problem, or a gambling problem, your medically, socially, culturally, and politically mandated solution is a set of 12 steps. And any suggestion that AA might be a flawed program, or not right for every addict, is met with scandalized looks and harsh retorts. AA, simply put, is pretty popular among the non-addicted. Folklore and anecdote are elevated to equal standing with data and evidence.
And nothing in this world travels faster than a pithy turn of phrase. Despite the popular glorification of TSF, addiction remains an oft-trivialized topic, and the addict an oft-ridiculed figure. The addict is disposable.
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Or a recyclable punchline. Little, D. Little had been a caring man who had unsuccessfully attempted to help alcoholics gain sobriety. Having read the book, he began in earnest mimeographing portions of it which he distributed to anyone he felt could further the cause or more importantly, to those he felt might be helped themselves.
With his good intentions and tireless effort, people started to want more, and as a result, he ordered five copies of the Big Book in June, As an enthusiastic supporter of A. Nineteen-forty-one seemed a busy year.
Three months before Dr. The magazine carried a substantial amount of weight in the forties, the article itself was enthusiastic and proved to be a dramatic boost to A.
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The Saturday Evening Post was well subscribed in Canada and certainly must have been met with enthusiasm by those suffering alcoholics, their friends and families, across the country. As if to cap off a year of miracles and perhaps three years of good fortune, finished with A.
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On December 16, , at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, eighty people enjoyed a banquet and celebrated their new friends and more importantly, their sobriety. The banquet, which was hosted by an A. In one year eighty people had renewed their lives, many of them had arrived from the gutter and twelve months earlier, on January 13, only eight of them had met — now they were ten fold.
One year and already so much had occurred, the membership was burgeoning, so much so that Toronto members rented a building at Yonge St. It was January 28, The building was in need of a cleaning and obviously had to be furnished, both needs were handled eagerly and earnestly by A. The new location was open every day and a regular Thursday night meeting was immediately established. A committee was selected every three months to look after affairs. Early in , February 11th and 12th , the annual A.
Conference was held at the Royal York Hotel. Until now, most media coverage of Alcoholics Anonymous took place south of the border, but that, too, was about to change. On February 13th, all three Toronto newspapers ran major articles on A. Interestingly enough, a positive note was struck.
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Gerrard St. At this time, the two were combined. The offices were on the second floor. By A. The ORC was not held in , but was replaced by a much larger event — the International Convention marking thirty years of A. The Convention was a major event for A.
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For the first time, the Convention was being held outside the United States. It did not take place without a great deal of effort on the part of a dedicated few. The delegate from the East area , Al B. This was successful and the attendance was phenomenal, the best mark up to that time.