Cured of Alcoholism? You decide!

My dad (Dick B.—www.DickB.com) has written two whole books on the topic of “cured” and Alcoholics Anonymous. They are:

• Dick B., Cured! Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts, 2d ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006): http://mcaf.ee/hpjsb; and
• Dick B., When Early AAs Were Cured and Why, 3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006): http://mcaf.ee/ik64w.

Here are some points about the use of the word “cured” in the Big Book and about its use by Bill W. and others before the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous was published in April 1939.

1. A person should not be considered “naive” because they state that the Big Book declares:

We are not cured of alcoholism. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 85]

That statement does occur—once—in the part of the book before the “Personal Stories” section. However, that is not all that is stated in the Big Book about a cure for alcoholism.

2. One aspect of how to approach the problem(s) raised by the foregoing claim on page 85 of the Big Book is to list some other facts about the Big Book; e.g.:

a. The entire book, Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”), is “the basic text for Alcoholics Anonymous”–as stated on the front cover of the dust jacket of the hardback edition of the fourth edition of the Big Book:

“Alcoholics Anonymous. This is the Fourth Edition of the Big Book, the Basic Text for Alcoholics Anonymous”

That fact is also stated on page xi of the Preface to the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous:

“. . . [T]his book has become the basic text for our Society . . .”

b. There are seven other occurrences of the word “cure” in the fourth edition of the Big Book (published in 2001) referring to the time before the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous was published in April 1939; and they all state or imply that alcoholism was being cured by the “old,” pre-April 1939 program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

1) “Another feeling we are very likely to entertain is one of resentment that love and loyalty could not cure our husbands of alcoholism. We do not like the thought that the contents of a book or the work of another alcoholic has accomplished in a few weeks that for which we struggled for years.” [Emphasis added; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 118 (chapter: “To Wives”)].

2) “Though he [“one of our friends”] is now a most effective member of Alcoholics Anonymous, he still smokes and drinks coffee, but neither his wife nor anyone else stands in judgment. She sees she was wrong to make a burning issue out of such a matter when his more serious ailments were being rapidly cured.” [Emphasis added; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 135 (chapter: “The Family Afterward”)].

3) “But this was a man [Bill W.] who had experienced many years of frightful drinking, who had had most all the drunkard’s experiences known to man, but who had been cured by the very means I had been trying to employ, that is to say the spiritual approach.” [Emphasis added; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 180; (“Doctor Bob’s Nightmare,” the personal story of A.A. cofounder and medical doctor, Dr. Bob)].

4) “Then she [the wife of A.A. Number Three, Bill D.] told me that these two drunks she had been talking to had a plan whereby they thought they could quit drinking, and part of that plan was that they tell it to another drunk. This was going to help them to stay sober. All the other people who had talked to me wanted to help me, and my pride prevented me from listening to them and caused only resentment on my part, but I felt as if I would be a real stinker if I did not listen to a couple of fellows for a short time, if that would cure them.” [Italics in original, bolding added; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 185; (“Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three,” the personal story of AA Number Three, Akron attorney Bill D.)].

5) “Two days before this, Dr. Bob had said to me [Bill W.], ‘If you and I are going to stay sober, we had better get busy.’ Straightway, Bob called Akron’s City Hospital and asked for the nurse on the receiving ward. He explained that he and a man from New York had a cure for alcoholism. Did she have an alcoholic customer on whom it could be tried?” [Emphasis added; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 188; (“Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three,” the personal story of AA Number Three, Akron attorney Bill D.)].

6) “Bill [A.A. cofounder Bill W.] looked across at my wife [the wife of AA Number Three, Bill D.] and said to her, ‘Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.’” [Emphasis added; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191; (“Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three,” the personal story of AA Number Three, Akron attorney Bill D.)].

7) “That sentence, ‘The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it,’ has been a sort of a golden text for the A.A. program and for me.” [Emphasis added; Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191; (“Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three,” the personal story of AA Number Three, Akron attorney Bill D.)].

[See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980), 131, for Frank Amos’s February 1938, seven-point summary of the original Akron A.A. program; and see Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1957), 162, for Bill W.’s statement that he had written “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps.’”

To help you research the facts contained in the Big Book, you might want to acquire a copy of A Concordance to Alcoholics Anonymous, comp. Stephen E. Poe and Frances E. Poe (Reno, NV: Purple Salamander Press: 1990): http://mcaf.ee/1supo. It is a concordance to the third edition of the Big Book, but the page numbers are (approximately) the same at for the fourth edition—at least until the “Personal Stories” section. Or, you could use the concordance feature of the http://www.164andmore.com Web site.]

3. Present a little historical background for the use of the word “cured” by early AAs. E.g.:

• William D. Silkworth, M.D., a devout Christian [Dale Mitchel, Silkworth, the Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2002), 11], had told Bill W. during Bill’s third visit to Towns Hospital in September 1934 that “the Great Physician” (Jesus Christ) could cure Bill of Bill’s alcoholism. [Mitchel, Silkworth, 44; see also 43-51, 225].

• According to Bill W., .on the morning of the third day after he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at Calvary Mission (about December 7, 1934), Bill thought to himself:

“So if there was a great Physician who could cure the alcoholic sickness, I had better seek Him now, at once.” [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 61].

• Bill W. then entered Towns Hospital for his fourth and final stay on December 11, 1934; had the experience in which his hospital room “blazed with an indescribably white light,” and sensed the presence of God. After that experience, he never again doubted the existence of God and never drank again. [‘Pass It On’ (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1984), 121]. When he left Towns Hospital on December 18, 1934, he sought out drunks wherever he could find them with a Bible under his arm, telling them that they needed to give their lives to God.

• A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob, a medical doctor, declared that A.A. cofounder Bill W. “had been cured” of alcoholism. (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 180). And Dr. Bob told a nurse on the receiving ward of Akron’s City Hospital that he and Bill “had a cure for alcoholism.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 188).

• AA Number Three, Akron attorney and Sunday school teacher Bill D., quoted Bill W. as having said to his (Bill D.’s) wife, “Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about and telling people.” And that, for AA Number Three, Bill D., Bill W.’s statement had been “a sort of a golden text for the A.A. program and for me.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191).

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About mauihistorian

Uses pen name Dick B.: Writer, Historian, Retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and active and recovered A.A. member with over 25 years of continuous sobriety. Published 42 titles and over 650 articles on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Christian Recovery Movement. www.dickb.com
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