Facilities accommodating suicide in 1945

In his recent book, The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry, Lance Dodes, a retired psychiatry professor from Harvard Medical School, looked at Alcoholics Anonymous’s retention rates along with studies on sobriety and rates of active involvement (attending meetings regularly and working the program) among AA members.

Based on these data, he put AA’s actual success rate somewhere between 5 and 8 percent.

He’s also a worrier—a big one—who for years used alcohol to soothe his anxiety. He favored gin and whiskey but drank whatever he thought his parents would miss the least.

And according to AA doctrine, the failure was his alone. G., Alcoholics Anonymous says that person must be deeply flawed.

He defended clients who had been charged with driving while intoxicated, and he bought his own Breathalyzer to avoid landing in court on drunk-driving charges himself. He tried to dedicate himself to the program even though, as an atheist, he was put off by the faith-based approach of the 12 steps, five of which mention God. says it was this message—that there were no small missteps, and one drink might as well be 100—that set him on a cycle of bingeing and abstinence.

Everyone there warned him that he had a chronic, progressive disease and that if he listened to the cunning internal whisper promising that he could have just one drink, he would be off on a bender. He went back to rehab once more and later sought help at an outpatient center.

But nothing quieted his anxious mind like booze, and when he didn’t drink, he didn’t sleep.

After four or six weeks dry, he’d be back at the liquor store.

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