You don’t know me, but my husband (wife, friend or relative) is drunk and we have pretty well come to the end of our rope and we can’t stand it any longer and we don’t know what to do. What do you suggest …?”

Most of us who have been in the pastorate for any length of time know what it is to receive a call like this and today such calls come more frequently. There are more alcoholics than ever before. Now that the disease has been brought into the open through education, the likelihood of any minister receiving such a call is becoming immeasurably increased.

Few of us any longer hold to the opinion expressed by one pastor of a large city church not long ago: “We don’t have that problem in our congregation.” The good brother, who declared he knew no alcoholics, no longer represents any considerable proportion of the clergy. Today, most of us have witnessed the agony associated with the problem and have known the frustration of trying to deal with it. Somewhere in our experience—if our people believed that they could come to us for help—we have met one or more of the 5,000,000 or so chronic alcoholics who, with their slightly more independent brethren, the 7,000,000 or so problem drinkers, careen their way across our land.

What are we to do about them? That depends on several factors, most of which can be recognized and analyzed: an accurate estimate of the problem of alcoholism, and the condition of the particular alcoholic you are trying to help. Each case is a unique experience, but there are certain rules of thumb.

Evaluation Of The Problem

Most authorities agree that chronic alcoholism is a condition (some call it a disease and the medical profession wishes it knew for sure just what to call it) which leaves the alcoholic ...

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