- THE DOCTOR’S OPINION

THE DOCTOR’S OPINION




Alcoholics Anonymous AA Big Book Study and Discussion.

THE DOCTOR’S OPINION

Postby Dallas » Sun Feb 18, 2007 8:27 am

THE DOCTOR’S OPINION in the book -- Alcoholics Anonymous






Note: Page numbers are in Roman Numeral and refer to 3rd Edition of the book, check your page number if you are using a different edition of the Big Book. The wording is the same -- the page numbers may be different.



THE DOCTOR’S OPINION


WE OF Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the
reader will be interested in the medical estimate of
the plan of recovery described in this book. Convincing
testimony must surely come from medical men who have
had experience with the sufferings of our members and
have witnessed our return to health. A well-known doctor,
chief physician at a nationally prominent hospital
specializing in alcoholic and drug addiction, gave Alcoholics
Anonymous this letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have specialized in the treatment of alcoholism for
many years.

In late 1934 I attended a patient who, though he had
been a competent businessman of good earning capacity,
was an alcoholic of a type I had come to regard as
hopeless.

In the course of his third treatment he acquired certain
ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. As part
of his rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions
to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that
they must do likewise with still others. This has become
the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men
and their families. This man and over one hundred others
appear to have recovered.

I personally know scores of cases who were of the type
with whom other methods had failed completely.
These facts appear to be of extreme medical importance;
because of the extraordinary possibilities of rapid

xviii
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xxiv THE DOCTOR'S OPINION

growth inherent in this group they may mark a new
epoch in the annals of alcoholism. These men may well
have a remedy for thousands of such situations.

You may rely absolutely on anything they say about
themselves.

Very truly yours,
William D. Silkworth, M.D.
THE DOCTOR’S OPINION

The physician who, at our request, gave us this letter,
has been kind enough to enlarge upon his views in another
statement which follows. In this statement he confirms
what we who have suffered alcoholic torture must believe
—that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal
as his mind. It did not satisfy us to be told that we could
not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted
to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were
outright mental defectives. These things were true to some
extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some of us.
But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In
our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out
this physical factor is incomplete.

The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy to alcohol
interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness
may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers,
we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It
explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account.

Though we work out our solution on the spiritual as
well as an altruistic plane, we favor hospitalization
for the alcoholic who is very jittery or befogged. More
often than not, it is imperative that a man’s brain be
cleared before he is approached, as he has then a bet-

------------------------------------------------
xxv -- THE DOCTOR’S OPINION

ter chance of understanding and accepting what we have
to offer.

The doctor writes:

The subject presented in this book seems to me to be of
paramount importance to those afflicted with alcoholic
addiction.

I say this after many years’ experience as Medical Director
of one of the oldest hospitals in the country treating
alcoholic and drug addiction.

There was, therefore, a sense of real satisfaction when
I was asked to contribute a few words on a subject which
is covered in such masterly detail in these pages.

We doctors have realized for a long time that some
form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to
alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond
our conception. What with our ultra-modern standards,
our scientific approach to everything, we are perhaps
not well equipped to apply the powers of good that
lie outside our synthetic knowledge.

Many years ago one of the leading contributors to this
book came under our care in this hospital and while here
he acquired some ideas which he put into practical application
at once.

Later, he requested the privilege of being allowed to tell
his story to other patients here and with some misgiving,
we consented. The cases we have followed through have
been most interesting; in fact, many of them are amazing.
The unselfishness of these men as we have come to
know them, the entire absence of profit motive, and
their community spirit, is indeed inspiring to one who
has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field. They
believe in themselves, and still more in the Power which
pulls chronic alcoholics back from the gates of death.

Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical

--------------------------------------------------------
xxvi -- THE DOCTOR’S OPINION

craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital
procedure, before psychological measures can be of
maximum benefit.

We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the
action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation
of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving
is limited to this class and never occurs in the average
temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely
use alcohol in any form at all; and once having formed
the habit and found they cannot break it, once having
lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human,
their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly
difficult to solve.

Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. The message
which can interest and hold these alcoholic people
must have depth and weight. In nearly all cases, their
ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves,
if they are to re-create their lives.

If any feel that as psychiatrists directing a hospital for
alcoholics we appear somewhat sentimental, let them stand
with us a while on the firing line, see the tragedies, the
despairing wives, the little children; let the solving of these
problems become a part of their daily work, and even of
their sleeping moments, and the most cynical will not
wonder that we have accepted and encouraged this movement. We feel,
after many years of experience, that we
have found nothing which has contributed more to the
rehabilitation of these men than the altruistic movement
now growing up among them.

Men and women drink essentially because they like the
effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that,
while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time
differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic
life seems the only normal one. They are restless,
irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience

--------------------------------------------------------
xxvii -- THE DOCTOR’S OPINION

the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by
taking a few drinks—drinks which they see others taking
with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire
again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving
develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a
spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to
drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless
this person can experience an entire psychic change there
is very little hope of his recovery.

On the other hand—and strange as this may seem to
those who do not understand—once a psychic change has
occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who
had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them,
suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for
alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to
follow a few simple rules.

Men have cried out to me in sincere and despairing appeal:
“Doctor, I cannot go on like this! I have everything to live
for! I must stop, but I cannot! You must help me!â€
Last edited by Dallas on Thu May 07, 2009 2:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Powderedwater » Sun Aug 26, 2007 11:39 am

I have always loved The Doctor's Opinion. I think it is often overlooked and to me that's to bad. Because simply put most of what an alcoholic needs is right there.

The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy to alcohol
interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness
may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers,
we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It
explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account.

We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the
action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation
of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving
is limited to this class and never occurs in the average
temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely
use alcohol in any form at all; and once having formed
the habit and found they cannot break it, once having
lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human,
their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly
difficult to solve.

This is a good example why if all you can do for that day is to not drink, then good for you! A lot of times that's enough! The allergy can't manifest itself if you don't drink!

The classification of alcoholics seems most difficult,
and in much detail is outside the scope of this book. There
are, of course, the psychopaths who are emotionally unstable.
We are all familiar with this type. They are always
“going on the wagon for keeps.â€
Powderedwater
 
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Postby DebbieV » Mon Oct 01, 2007 5:42 am

When I first got sober, I was listening to a Joe & Charlie tape, they talked about the 5 classification of an alcoholic. For some reason that stayed in my head. For those who may not have heard the tape or may not know what the classifications are, as they are stated in the Big Book, I thought I would share it with you.

[i]The classification of alcoholics seems most difficult,
and in much detail is outside the scope of this book.

1) There are, of course, the psychopaths who are emotionally unstable.
We are all familiar with this type. They are always
“going on the wagon for keeps.â€
Last edited by DebbieV on Mon Oct 01, 2007 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby littlemiss » Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:17 am

Thanks, Debbie.

SAT. Night:

At-the-last-minute my H. abruptly decided to leave for out of town @ 8:00 p.m. to get a head start..he had to drive 4 hours to go fix a water leak at his mom's cabin...He/We had planned on him leaving the next morning before...so this sort of threw me...Red Flag...ya think?

What struck me about Sat. night when I chose to go buy wine & made the decision to drink that night...is that I didn't have the craving for alcohol but it was so automatic that I wanted to have the security of drinking for any emotions or sadness I would be feeling while alone...
So then, I set off the the store... :roll:
Insanity...Yeah...
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Postby garden variety » Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:11 am

Hi Ann Marie,

You said you chose to drink Saturday. The thing about alcoholics is this: somewhere in our drinking careers we crossed this invisible line where our best efforts to quit were of no avail. We lost the ability to choose whether or not we'd drink again. Alcoholics don't have a choice when it comes to drinking. If it's available, we will drink - we can't leave it alone.

What you did on Saturday is what anyone of us would have done if we were not following the A.A. program of recovery which is the 12 steps. You "set off to the store". I tell you what, I can relate to that so much - that's exactly what I did when I was no longer accountable to anyone, like a family.

If you are an alcoholic, don't kid yourself with excuses or thinking about second chances. If you are one of us, then you are suffering from a chronic, uncurable, and fatal illness that never gets better - only worse. The only thing that can conquer this illness is a spiritual awakening that comes as a result of working the 12 steps.

In other words, to avoid "setting off to the store", an alcoholic needs to take actions that are going in the opposite direction - taking actions that take us farther away from a drink.
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Postby littlemiss » Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:30 am

garden variety wrote:If you are an alcoholic, don't kid yourself with excuses or thinking about second chances. If you are one of us, then you are suffering from a chronic, uncurable, and fatal illness that never gets better - only worse. The only thing that can conquer this illness is a spiritual awakening that comes as a result of working the 12 steps.

In other words, to avoid "setting off to the store", an alcoholic needs to take actions that are going in the opposite direction - taking actions that take us farther away from a drink.


Um, YUP...I agree... I'm reading the A.A. Big Book & the light is starting to turn on for me...I spoke to my H. about some of this last night...told him I was reading it & that we discuss some A.A. stuff in my Anon program...
THAT is a huge step for me... :shock:
We are going away for 3 nights alone (YAY! no kidlets...:)) to Old Town San Diego in 3 weeks...where the Mexican food is to DIE FOR...but where we always enjoy the margaritas! ACK! & NOT GOOD for ME. THAT is sorely messing w/ my head right now...
BUT...I wrote out my 1st Step in my Anon program! I'm so proud of myself! I HAD to buy the workbook, or I would've just put it off...

And I can TELL by reading the ?'s for the next few steps & from reading the examples in the Big Book, that I'm going to be dealing w/ the alcohol issue while doing the steps in my A-Non program...Scary...but I'm pressing on...In Step 2 it starts right-off-the-bat asking me WHAT thing/person, etc. I've placed in God's place...& what substances might I have I used to numb or cover feelings...

Pinch? Yeah...
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Postby Danni » Tue Nov 06, 2007 2:00 am

We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the
action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation
of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker.


I didn't know that my body and my mind was having an abnormal reaction to alcohol. I thought that everyone who drank alcohol experienced the same thing that I did when drinking. When I would go out for a drink with the girls it was obvious that alcohol was doing something for me that it wasn't doing for them.


Men and women drink essentially because they like the
effect produced by alcohol.


This was precisely why I drank. I loved the feeling that was produced by alcohol. I wasn't drinking to escape. I wasn't drinking to drown the pain. After a couple of drinks it felt like I was the goddess of the universe and in my hand was a magic wand that could make any desire and any dream come true.

Now, I love the feeling of the spiritual experiences that come as a result of practicing the Twelve Steps.

In love with sober living,

Danni
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Postby littlemiss » Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:35 am

garden variety wrote:Hi Ann Marie,

What you did on Saturday is what anyone of us would have done if we were not following the A.A. program of recovery which is the 12 steps. You "set off to the store". I tell you what, I can relate to that so much - that's exactly what I did when I was no longer accountable to anyone, like a family.

**Ya know, IF I would'nt have been accountable to anyone (I got married/had a family at 21), my GOD--I'd probably be a screaming trainwreck...way deeper into drinking than I am now...which is in fact what happened to my brother--he was isolated...no relationships/accountability...& finally hit bottom & has been in A.A. for 2 years now...
If you are an alcoholic, don't kid yourself with excuses or thinking about second chances. If you are one of us, then you are suffering from a chronic, uncurable, and fatal illness that never gets better - only worse. The only thing that can conquer this illness is a spiritual awakening that comes as a result of working the 12 steps.

In other words, to avoid "setting off to the store", an alcoholic needs to take actions that are going in the opposite direction - taking actions that take us farther away from a drink.


***YES...I'm on Day 6 today!... :D I went to a new really good meeting last night...and I just feel... I don't know...different...like I HAVE MADE THAT DECISION...but I still feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone...not knowing what I'm doing...but knowing God is changing me...guiding me...that it's not ME...and I think my husband is thinking: Hmmm...what's going on...? And he's not sure why exactly I'm going to A.A....
and I'm not sharing that much w/ him cuz I don't know much myself...lol!

But I'm just trying to be still & listen...& pray...& know I am not going to drink TODAY...I'm learning to just sit w/ the spaciousness...feelings/emotions...instead of drinking them away...
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Postby Dallas » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:43 am

It scares the hell out of me when I discover that I'm sitting w/ the spaciousness...feelings/emotions! :shock: I start wondering when the sky is going to fall! :wink:

Congratulations on doing what it's a good idea for you to be doing -- and having another consecutive day sober!!!!!!!!!!!!! :lol:

Dallas
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Doctors Opinion

Postby Danni » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:20 am

Dr.'s Opinion wrote:the plan of recovery described in this book


It helps me when I remember that the Big Book contains instructions to follow the "plan of recovery."

If I follow the plan I recover. If I follow the plan I get better.

Am I working my plan? Or, am I working the plan in the book?

Keeping it simple.

Danni
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12 Step Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery | - THE DOCTOR’S OPINION