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June 1956

Helping Hands

Interest in our "1955 News Roundup" (February issue) of activities and developments outside AA in the field of alcoholism is the reason for this new regular feature. . .suggestions and possible contributions--information, clippings, marked publications, e

A LOOK AT THE RECORD: Almost 500 alcoholics in the District of Columbia have been rehabilitated through the municipal court in cooperation with AA, according to a report by Robert J. Conner, assistant director of probation, reprinted in the Congressional Record.

"The plan of rehabilitation in operation through the probation office and with the cooperation of AA has proved to be the most successful method," Mr. Conner reported. "The total of individuals personally selected for rehabilitation through this plan numbers in the neighborhood of 800. Of that number, better than sixty percent have been rehabilitated. They are self-sustaining individuals. Many have returned to their families and are today living good normal lives, earning a good living and paying their fair share of taxes. All of this has been accomplished without any additional appropriation of the taxpayers' money."

FROM A DOCTOR'S VIEWPOINT: Many sanitariums for alcoholics have "killed patients through mistreatment," and in some cases have built up huge fortunes at the expense of helpless victims, according to a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Alcoholism Research Foundation for Ontario. He is Dr. R. Gordon Bell, medical director of the Bell Clinic in Canada.

Speaking before the annual meeting of the National Committee on Alcoholism in New York, Dr. Bell said that alcoholic patients go through a "phase of resistance" during which they are not ready to face up realistically to their problem as a whole. During this phase they will often look for "a place to hide and will pay exorbitant rates to do so."

Despite widespread efforts to acquaint alcoholics with an opportunity for proper treatment in reputable institutions, Dr. Bell said, many still use the "drying-out dens."

"The real tragedy," he said, "lies in the fact that they capitalize upon the patient's illness and all too frequently make him worse than before. Instead of concentrating on the establishment of a rehabilitation program, they depend upon 'repeat business.' Indirectly, and sometimes directly, they encourage addiction rather than make any attempt to interrupt it."

GEOGRAPHY AND ALCOHOLISM: San Francisco has the highest rate of alcoholism of all cities in the U.S. with populations of 100,000 adults or more, according to a survey reported in the Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. San Francisco's alcoholic rate is about one in twenty-five adults. Other cities with high rates are (in order) Boston, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Washington, D.C. "Smaller" big cities--places like Phoenix, Arizona, and Duluth, Minn.--have much lower alcoholism rates per thousand. The researchers who made the study did not give any opinion why rates are higher in the big cities.

WHAT 'CIVILIANS' CAN Do: The Oklahoma Alcoholism Association, a nonprofit health agency supported by the general public, recently summed up how organizations outside AA can contribute to a better understanding of the problem. It said:

"AA has the phenomenal record of seventy-five percent permanent recovery among those who seek its help and stay with it, but only seven percent of the alcoholics seek this help. . . .AA cannot start hospitals or clinics, or enter the field of education. It does no research. It attempts no promotion through publicity. It accepts no outside contributions and does not endorse or finance anything. Thus others must do what AA cannot do.

"What you can do: Recognize alcoholism as a matter of health and the alcoholic as one who is ill. Realize that he can be helped and is worthy of help. Acknowledge this as a public health problem and therefore a public responsibility." The Association, in its literature, stresses that "alcoholism is everybody's business."

WHO WE ARE: The Oklahoma Alcoholism Association supplies these figures about the male alcoholic in business and industry: they comprise about 6% of the employees; more than 1,750,000 are found in business and industry; 80% are under the age of 50 and 25%. of them are less than 35 years old; 60% of them have been with their firm for three years and 25% for ten years or more; 70% of them have jobs requiring special responsibility or skill.