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What Is Alcoholics Anonymous? A Path From Addiction to Recovery.: Marc Galanter, MD (2016) New York, NY Oxford University Press. 255 pp.

Ruiz, Pedro MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: October 2016 - Volume 204 - Issue 10 - p 801
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000588
Book Reviews

Clinical Professor Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX

In writing this book, Dr Marc Galanter intends to address the following questions: “What really goes on in Alcoholics Anonymous?” and “How can Alcoholics Anonymous help a person with addiction?” Without a doubt, Dr Marc Galanter clearly demonstrates in this book that he is the most capable professional to answer both questions in the most authoritative way, not only in the United States but also worldwide. The content of this book is divided into three parts: part I focuses on Alcoholics Anonymous in the public arena; part II addresses the Alcoholics Anonymous experience; and part III discusses Alcoholics Anonymous in the setting of addiction treatment. Each of these “parts” is extensively addressed in this book. For instance, in part I, Dr Galanter reviews the origin and evolution of Alcoholics Anonymous; the controversies of this topic such as “the existence of God and a Higher Power”; the question “Does Alcoholics Anonymous overpromise?”; the question “Is addiction a disease?”; and how he got involved in this very important topic in the field of addiction. In part II, Dr Galanter focuses on the engagement of alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous, the role of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, the varieties of membership engagements, the role of age-specific groups, how difficult to connect in groups can be, the multiplicity of the reasons as to why one should join Alcoholics Anonymous, the role of “keeping in touch,” and the reasons as to why some addicted individuals do not become involved in Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, in the “role of steps” in the involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous groups, a total of 12 steps can be defined within the context of membership in Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Likewise, sponsorship also plays a major role in Alcoholics Anonymous groups and, thus, needs to be understood in this context. Also, the role of “spiritual awakening” is crucial for a full involvement on Alcoholics Anonymous. In this context, “feeling Jesus's presence,” “finding God again,” and extending “an outstretched hand” are crucial factors within the context of Alcoholics Anonymous. Finally, further involvement beyond the role of the local groups is a key component of Alcoholics Anonymous. In part III, Dr Galanter discusses the role of Alcoholics Anonymous vis-a-vis the setting of addiction treatment. In this context, its place in medicine at large is extensively addressed. The role of Alcoholics Anonymous within the context of medicine at large is also taken into consideration, including the role of 12 steps in the treatment and recovery of addicted physicians, and also, the additional role of rehabilitation programs in this context. Moreover, the role of medications for certain aspects of alcoholism treatment is nowadays a major positive tool, as well as sociobiological and biological interventions. Besides, nowadays, the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous is well demonstrated, including “methadone anonymous,” as well as other options that are now available. Without question, Dr Marc Galanter has provided us with this book an ideal tool to positively and effectively address the problems we still face at a worldwide level vis-a-vis alcoholism. I strongly suggest to read this authoritative book.

Pedro Ruiz, MD

Clinical Professor

Menninger Department of Psychiatry and

Behavioral Sciences

Baylor College of Medicine

Houston, TX

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The author declares no conflict of interest.

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