CAL – Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism (Item # B-1)

To me, there’s something intriguing about reading discontinued books. I feel like I’m uncovering something they no longer want me to know. This is how I felt reading Al-Anon’s second book, “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism (item # B-1) that I got from our District Archives chairperson.

Original 1965 Version – First Edition

1. The first edition originally came out in 1965 at a time when the concept of alcoholism as a disease was gaining ground & Al-Anon Family Groups was trying to legitimize itself as a resource for professionals as well as for people from all walks of life.

1984 Version –Second Edition

Even though I was given the first edition, the one I read for this blog entry was the second edition from 1984 (where about half the book was overhauled). This book was officially discontinued in 1998 because it was felt an annual outreach periodical could keep up better with current thinking on the disease – hence the title of the book was transferred to the magazine we have today. (Click here for my review of the first official “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism” outreach magazine.)

2. The book is made up of 3 sections: articles from professionals, members’ sharings, & principles of the program. The first part was refreshing because so much of our literature is emotional & from within the fellowship, but the assessments from doctors & psychologists were matter-of-fact clinical views from the outside looking in. Especially the first article, where each stage a family goes through is detailed to the point that if I walked into an office to get a diagnosis, they could say, “Yep, you’re at this particular stage & this is what’s coming up…” I’ve always thought what I went through was so chaotic & unpredictable, but apparently the path has a distinct pattern that is very well-worn.

3. I enjoyed that the stories were much longer than what is typically printed nowadays. I came across one that was similar to my own, but then I remembered that the beginning of the story mentioned World War II. Another talked about memories of Prohibition. It was like reading a time capsule & feeling connected to the past.

4. My 2 favorite lines from this book are:

1) “If you have been put in your place long enough, you begin to act like the place.” (Sounds like my childhood!);

2) “A worldwide friendship.” I’m so used to hearing “worldwide fellowship”, but I like “friendship” better!


**BONUS CAL QUESTION: This is 1 of only 2 Al-Anon books given to the White House staff at “The 1970 White House Conference on Children.” What was the other one? (Hint: an early version of item # B-5!)


***DOUBLE BONUS CAL QUESTION: The first edition of this book features a quote from a speech given at a Temperance Society gathering way back in 1842 that compared alcoholism to other hereditary diseases. Who said it? (Hint: the same person quoted on item # M-12!)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrea says:

    Thanks Pat, this post was very interesting. I enjoy learning of the history of Al Anon. Every thing I read confirms that the disease of alcohol, and it’s symptoms and effects have a pattern of behavior. It is also interesting to hear how acceptance of the facts of the illness have been debated for generations. I know people in my own family you still believe the alcoholic or addict can just stop.

    1. Pat A. says:

      Yeah – Or that there are still people that think the person is “bad” & why can’t they be “good”, when really it’s a matter of a person that is sick – just trying to get well.

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