From the February 1969 magazine.

A Doctor's View of AA

Suggestion: Pass this article along to your doctor. The author holds advanced views of certain interest to his colleagues

THE INTERNIST or the general practitioner who is confronted with the problem of how to help the alcoholic whom he sees in his office or has recently detoxified from his latest binge, is too often in a dilemma as to how to proceed. Many communities have such facilities as alcoholic clinics, counseling services, and psychiatric facilities; others, however, do not have these facilities yet. In the latter case it is even more desirable for the physician to know how he can help his patient. The physician soon learns to differentiate between the sick, motivated alcoholic who sincerely wants help and the reluctant, non-motivated alcoholic. The former is, of course, the ideal patient, because help is readily accepted. The latter can be motivated, in some cases, by the physician's advice and handling of the situation.

The doctor who is aware of Alcoholics Anonymous has a most valuable ally and helpful assistant, if he will learn how to use that adjunct. It is not sufficient to advise the patient to "go join AA." In nine cases out of ten he will fail to do so, through ignorance and embarrassment. The doctor must know something about AA and must know whom to call for the patient. It is far better for the physician to appeal to the patient's vanity and say, "Now, Joe (or Sue, as the case may be), you are an intelligent person and you owe it to yourself to investigate AA. Why not see what that group has? You have no obligation to join, but you should talk to some of the members. I will have someone call you tonight." The physician who has attended several open meetings of AA can talk intelligently to the patient about the group and will have been introduced to a number of recovered alcoholics whom he can evaluate as the most likely to help his patient.

-- Edward J. Delehanty, MD

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