Becoming Alcoholic: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Reality of Alcoholism

Becoming Alcoholic: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Reality of Alcoholism

Becoming Alcoholic: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Reality of Alcoholism

Becoming Alcoholic: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Reality of Alcoholism

Synopsis

Affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous parallels religious conversion, according to David R. Rudy in this timely study of the most famous self-help organization in the world.

Drinkers who commit themselves to Alcoholics Anonymous embrace the radically different life-style, the altered world of the convert.

To understand this conversion and, more important, to get a grip on the even deeper mystery of alcoholism itself, Rudy sought to answer these three questions: What processes are involved in becoming alcoholic? How does the alcoholic affiliate with, and become committed to, A. A.'s belief system? What is the relation ship between the world of A. A. members and that constructed by alcohologists?

Rudy establishes the history and structure of A. A. and examines the organization's relationship to dominant sociological models, theories, and definitions of alcoholism.

Excerpt

David R. Rudy Becoming Alcoholic addresses a major social issue in our society: that form of conduct called alcoholism, which touches the lives of one out of seven Americans on a daily basis. Rudy examines the process by which individuals who are seen by others as having problems with alcohol come to define themselves as "alcoholics." Through treatment agencies, through the meetings and literature of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), and through interactions with significant others and with persons who call themselves alcholics, the problem drinker gradually takes on an alcoholic identity. Rudy shows how that identity derives from the ideological system of A.A., particularly from A.A.'s conception of alcoholism as a disease. This conception received its strongest formulation in E. M. Jellinek's phase model, developed in the 1940s and 1950s and subsequently adopted by most physicians and treatment agencies, by sociologists and psychologists studying the problem, and by American society in general. Thus, the disease model was refined within the scientific and everyday worlds of discourse that most directly affect the problem drinker.

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