I’ve seen the ravages of alcoholism among family, friends, and business partners, and they are not to be taken lightly. I’ve also seen the incredible results that come from participation in the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, that wonderful non-profit organization started by Bill W oh so many years ago.
Today’s images are from a small booklet issued by AA in 1967 and again throughout the following years. In fact, you can find a modern-day version (complete with graphic-novel style drawings) at the AA website. The booklet traces the life of Joe, an alcoholic, through the phases of the disease and on to recovery. Click on any image for a larger version.
For some, alcohol is a problem from the beginning–I have a nephew who is 18 and already struggling with his addiction. For others, the signs show up later and may take decades before they begin to interfere with normal life. For Joe, life started out good.
But as is the case with most addictions, what starts out as fun and just a normal part of social life turns dark pretty quickly. Before you know it, Joe’s family is afraid of him and the unpredictable behavior that typically accompanies alcoholism.
As they are likely to do, things take a turn for the worse and Joe’s work begins to suffer. Yet Joe is still in denial.
Eventually Joe realizes he may have a problem and tries to straighten up on his own. Yet it’s hard to tackle such a big problem without any help.
Despite the pleas of his wife and friends, Joe remains in denial until he finally reaches rock bottom.
Having been to a number of AA and Alanon meetings, I can attest to the friendly atmosphere and ever-presence of coffee.
It takes a while for things to sink in, but soon Joe realizes he’s an alcoholic and gets comfortable admitting it. He discovers that people from every walk of life struggle with addiction and until you can admit you are one of them, it’s unlikely things will improve.
But improve they do, and soon Joe is back in good graces with his family and his boss.
The comic-book style of Joe’s story may seem a bit campy and out-of-date–like all graphic style, it exists in a certain context. But the story remains relevant, as does the message of recovery.
I’m glad there is an Alcoholics Anonymous, and I think any way they can get their message out is a good way. I suspect this little booklet and the story of Joe may have had a profound impact on a great many people over the years.
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