The Path to Rehabilitation

Easy access to treatment and the current social empathy to alcoholism were not always the case. In fact, alcoholism is a very recent phenomenon. There was once little recourse for the alcoholic other than to find solace, succor, and possible redemption in religious groups and temperance associations. Organizations such as the Salvation Army helped many a destitute soul. Many Catholics would visit the parish priest and “take the pledge,” a vow to swear off the demon grog. This was usually at the urging of a beleaguered spouse. The active alcoholic, if he or she ended up on skid row, was regarded as a pathetic pariah. Even if the attempt was in earnest, the recovery rate was extremely poor. Staying sober for any length of time was rare, barring white-knuckled stubbornness and religious conversion.

Alcoholics Anonymous came into being in 1935 and, after a rocky start and a humble beginning, it has helped millions of people all over the world battle the crippling addiction of alcoholism.

One refuge for the alcoholic in need was the Oxford Group. It was a nondenominational Christian evangelical organization formed in the early twentieth century. This group sought to emulate the practices of the very early Christian Church, when Christianity was a ragtag band of persecuted outcasts. They were not in the recovery business per se, but fallen men and women seeking a design for living and plan of action to combat their “failings” were welcomed.

One member of the Oxford Group sought treatment from the legendary Dr. Carl Jung. The eminent psychologist was baffled by the insidious enigma of alcoholism. After lengthy treatment and repeated relapses on the part of the patient, Dr. Jung acknowledged that the man was powerless over alcoholism and told the patient that only a spiritual conversion experience would help him. Such had been the case for centuries, and it looked like the status quo would not change anytime soon.

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