Chapter 10

                        TO EMPLOYERS

  AMONG MANY employers nowadays, we think of
one member who has spent much of his life in
the world of big business.  He has hired and fired hun-
dreds of men.  He knows the alcoholic as the employer
sees him.  His present views ought to prove exception-
ally useful to business men everywhere.
  But let him tell you:

  I was at one time assistant manager of a corporation
department employing sixty-six hundred men.  One
day my secretary came in saying that Mr. B-- insisted
on speaking with me.  I told her to say that I was not
interested.  I had warned him several times that he
had but one more chance.  Not long afterward he had
called me from Hartford on two successive days, so
drunk he could hardly speak.  I told him he was
through--finally and forever.
  My secretary returned to say that it was not Mr.
B-- on the phone; it was Mr. B--'s brother, and he
wished to give me a message.  I still expected a plea
for clemency, but these words came through the re-
ceiver:  "I just wanted to tell you Paul jumped from a
hotel window in Hartford last Saturday.  He left us a
note saying you were the best boss he ever had, and
that you were not to blame in any way."
  Another time, as I opened a letter which lay on my


                        TO EMPLOYERS                     137
desk, a newspaper clipping fell out.  It was the obitu-
ary of one of the best salesmen I ever had.  After two
weeks of drinking, he had placed his toe on the trigger
of a loaded shotgun--the barrel was in his mouth.  I
had discharged him for drinking six weeks before.
  Still another experience:  A woman's voice came
faintly over long distance from Virginia.  She wanted
to know if her husband's company insurance was still
in force.  Four days before he had hanged himself in
his woodshed.  I had been obliged to discharge him
for drinking, though he was brilliant, alert, and one of
the best organizers I have ever known.
  Here were three exceptional men lost to this world
because I did not understand alcoholism as I do now.
What irony--I became an alcoholic myself!  And but
for the intervention of an understanding person, I
might have followed in their footsteps.  My downfall
cost the business community unknown thousands of
dollars, for it takes real money to train a man for an
executive position.  This kind of waste goes on un-
abated.  We think the business fabric is shot through
with a situation which might be helped by better un-
derstanding all around.
  Nearly every modern employer feels a moral respon-
sibility for the well-being of his help, and he tries to
meet these responsibilities.  That he has not always
done so for the alcoholic is easily understood.  To him
the alcoholic has often seemed a fool of the first mag-
nitude.  Because of the employee's special ability, or
of his own strong personal attachment to him, the
employer has sometimes kept such a man at work long
beyond a reasonable period.  Some employers have
tried every known remedy.  In only a few instances

138                 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
has there been a lack of patience and tolerance.  And
we, who have imposed on the best of employers, can
scarcely blame them if they have been short with us.
  Here, for instance, is a typical example:  An officer of
one of the largest banking institutions in America
knows I no longer drink.  One day he told me about an
executive of the same bank who, from his description,
was undoubtedly alcoholic.  This seemed to me like an
opportunity to be helpful, so I spent two hours talking
about alcoholism, the malady, and described the
symptoms and results as well as I could.  His com-
ment was, "Very interesting.  But I'm sure this man is
done drinking.  He has just returned from a three-
months leave of absence, has taken a cure, looks fine,
and to clinch the matter, the board of directors told
him this was his last chance."
  The only answer I could make was that if the man
followed the usual pattern, he would go on a bigger
bust than ever.  I felt this was inevitable and wondered
if the bank was doing the man an injustice.  Why not
bring him into contact with some of our alcoholic
crowd?  He might have a chance.  I pointed out that I
had had nothing to drink whatever for three years, and
this in the face of difficulties that would have made
nine out of ten men drink their heads off.  Why not at
least afford him an opportunity to hear my story?
"Oh no," said my friend, "this chap is either through
with liquor, or he is minus a job.  If he has your will
power and guts, he will make the grade."
  I wanted to throw up my hands in discouragement,
for I saw that I had failed to help my banker friend
understand.  He simply could not believe that his

                        TO EMPLOYERS                     139
brother-executive suffered from a serious illness.
There was nothing to do but wait.
  Presently the man did slip and was fired.  Follow-
ing his discharge, we contacted him.  Without much
ado, he accepted the principles and procedure that
had helped us.  He is undoubtedly on the road to re-
covery.  To me, this incident illustrates lack of under-
standing as to what really ails the alcoholic, and lack
of knowledge as to what part employers might profit-
ably take in salvaging their sick employees.
  If you desire to help it might be well to disregard
your own drinking, or lack of it.  Whether you are a
hard drinker, a moderate drinker or a teetotaler, you
may have some pretty strong opinions, perhaps preju-
dices.  Those who drink moderately may be more an-
noyed with an alcoholic than a total abstainer would
be.  Drinking occasionally, and understanding your
own reactions, it is possible for you to become quite
sure of many things which, so far as the alcoholic is
concerned, are not always so.  As a moderate drinker,
you can take your liquor or leave it alone.  Whenever
you want to, you control your drinking.  Of an eve-
ning, you can go on a mild bender, get up in the morn-
ing, shake your head and go to business.  To you,
liquor is no real problem.  You cannot see why it
should be to anyone else, save the spineless and stupid.
  When dealing with an alcoholic, there may be a
natural annoyance that a man could be so weak, stupid
and irresponsible.  Even when you understand the
malady better, you may feel this feeling rising.
  A look at the alcoholic in your organization is many
times illuminating.  Is he not usually brilliant, fast-
thinking, imaginative and likeable?  When sober, does

140                 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
he not work hard and have a knack of getting things
done?  If he had these qualities and did not drink
would he be worth retaining?  Should he have the
same consideration as other ailing employees?  Is he
worth salvaging?  If your decision is yes, whether the
reason be humanitarian or business or both, then the
following suggestions may be helpful.
  Can you discard the feeling that you are dealing
only with habit, with stubbornness, or a weak will?  If
this presents difficulty, re-reading  chapters two and
three, where the alcoholic sickness is discussed at
length might be worth while.  You, as a business man,
want to know the necessities before considering the
result.  If you concede that your employee is ill, can
he be forgiven for what he has done in the past?  Can
his past absurdities be forgotten?  Can it be appreci-
ated that he has been a victim of crooked thinking,
directly caused by the action of alcohol on his brain?
  I well remember the shock I received when a
prominent doctor in Chicago told me of cases where
pressure of the spinal fluid actually ruptured the
brain.  No wonder an alcoholic is strangely irrational.
Who wouldn't be, with such a fevered brain?  Normal
drinkers are not so affected, nor can they understand
the aberrations of the alcoholic.
  Your man has probably been trying to conceal a
number of scrapes, perhaps pretty messy ones.  They
may be disgusting.  You may be at a loss to understand
how such a seemingly above-board chap could be so
involved.  But these scrapes can generally be charged,
no matter how bad, to the abnormal action of alcohol
on his mind.  When drinking, or getting over a bout,
an alcoholic, sometimes the model of honesty when

                        TO EMPLOYERS                     141
normal, will do incredible things.  Afterward, his
revulsion will be terrible.  Nearly always, these antics
indicate nothing more than temporary conditions.
This is not to say that all alcoholics are honest and
upright when not drinking.  Of course that isn't so,
and such people often may impose on you.  Seeing
your attempt to understand and help, some men will
try to take advantage of your kindness.  If you are
sure your man does not want to stop, he may as well
be discharged, the sooner the better.  You are not
doing him a favor by keeping him on.  Firing such an
individual may prove a blessing to him.  It may be
just the jolt he needs.  I know, in my own particular
case, that nothing my company could have done would
have stopped me for, so long as I was able to hold my
position, I could not possibly realize how serious my
situation was.  Had they fired me first, and had they
then taken steps to see that I was presented with the
solution contained in this book, I might have returned
to them six months later, a well man.
  But there are many men who want to stop, and with
them you can go far.  Your understanding treatment
of their cases will pay dividends.
  Perhaps you have such a man in mind.  He wants to
quit drinking and you want to help him, even if it be
only a matter of good business.  You now know more
about alcoholism.  You can see that he is mentally and
physically sick.  You are willing to overlook his past
performances.  Suppose an approach is made some-
thing like this:
  State that you know about his drinking, and that it
must stop.  You might say you appreciate his abilities,
would like to keep him, but cannot if he continues to

142                 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
drink.  A firm attitude at this point has helped many
of us.
  Next he can be assured that you do not intend to
lecture, moralize, or condemn; that if this was done
formerly, it was because of misunderstanding.  If pos-
sible express a lack of hard feeling toward him.  At
this point, it might be well to explain alcoholism, the
illness.  Say that you believe he is a gravely ill per-
son, with this qualification--being perhaps fatally ill,
does he want to get well?  You ask, because many
alcoholics, being warped and drugged, do not want to
quit.  But does he?  Will he take every necessary step,
submit to anything to get well, to stop drinking for-
  If he says yes, does he really mean it, or down inside
does he think he is fooling you, and that after rest and
treatment he will be able to get away with a few drinks
now and then?  We believe a man should be thor-
oughly probed on these points.  Be satisfied he is not
deceiving himself or you.
  Whether you mention this book is a matter for your
discretion.  If he temporizes and still thinks he can
ever drink again, even beer, he might as well be dis-
charged after the next bender which, if an alcoholic,
he is almost certain to have.  He should understand
that emphatically.  Either you are dealing with a man
who can and will get well or you are not.  If not, why
waste time with him?  This may seem severe, but it is
usually the best course.
  After satisfying yourself that your man wants to
recover and that he will go to any extreme to do so,
you may suggest a definite course of action.  For most
alcoholics who are drinking, or who are just getting

                        TO EMPLOYERS                     143
over a spree, a certain amount of physical treatment
is desirable, even imperative.  The matter of physical
treatment should, of course, be referred to your
own doctor.  Whatever the method, its object is to
thoroughly clear mind and body of the effects of alco-
hol.  In competent hands, this seldom takes long nor
is it very expensive.  Your man will fare better if
placed in such physical condition that he can think
straight and no longer craves liquor.  If you propose
such a procedure to him, it may be necessary to ad-
vance the cost of treatment, but we believe it should
be made plain that any expense will later be deducted
from his pay.  It is better for him to feel fully respon-
  If your man accepts your offer, it should be pointed
out that physical treatment is but a small part of the
picture.  Though you are providing him with the best
possible medical attention, he should understand that
he must undergo a change of heart.  To get over drink-
ing will require a transformation of thought and atti-
tude.  We all had to place recovery above everything,
for without recovery we would have lost both home
and business.
  Can you have every confidence in his ability to
recover?  While on the subject of confidence, can you
adopt the attitude that so far as you are concerned
this will be a strictly personal matter, that his alco-
holic derelictions, the treatment about to be under-
taken, will never be discussed without his consent?
It might be well to have a long chat with him on his
  To return to the subject matter of this book:  It con-
tains full suggestions by which the employee may

144                 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
solve his problem.  To you, some of the ideas which
it contains are novel.  Perhaps you are not quite in
sympathy with the approach we suggest.  By no means
do we offer it as the last word on this subject, but so
far as we are concerned, it has worked with us.  After
all, are you not looking for results rather then meth-
ods?  Whether your employee likes it or not, he will
learn the grim truth about alcoholism.  That won't
hurt him a bit, even though he does not go for this
  We suggest you draw the book to the attention of
the doctor who is to attend your patient during treat-
ment.  If the book is read the moment the patient is
able, while acutely depressed, realization of his condi-
tion may come to him.
  We hope the doctor will tell the patient the truth
about his condition, whatever that happens to be.
When the man is presented with this volume it is best
that no one tell him he must abide by its suggestions.
The man must decide for himself.
  Your are betting, of course, that your changed atti-
tude plus the contents of this book will turn the trick.
In some cases it will, and in others it may not.  But
we think that if you persevere, the percentage of suc-
cesses will gratify you.  As our work spreads and our
numbers increase, we hope your employees may be
put in personal contact with some of us.  Meanwhile,
we are sure a great deal can be accomplished by the
use of the book alone.
  On your employee's return, talk with him.  Ask him
if he thinks he has the answer.  If he feels free to
discuss his problems with you, if he knows you under-

                        TO EMPLOYERS                     145
stand and will not be upset by anything he wises to
say, he will probably be off to a fast start.
  In this connection, can you remain undisturbed if
the man proceeds to tell you shocking things?  He
may, for example, reveal that he has padded his ex-
pense account or that he has planned to take your
best customers away from you.  In fact, he may say
almost anything if he has accepted our solution which,
as you know, demands rigorous honesty.  Can you
charge this off as you would a bad account and start
fresh with him?  If he owes you money you may wish
to make terms.
  If he speaks of his home situation, you can un-
doubtedly make helpful suggestions.  Can he talk
frankly with you so long as he does not bear business
tales or criticize his associates?  With this kind of em-
ployee such an attitude will command undying loyalty.
  The greatest enemies of us alcoholics are resent-
ment, jealousy, envy, frustration, and fear.  Wherever
men are gathered together in business there will be
rivalries and, arising out of these, a certain amount of
office politics.  Sometimes we alcoholics have an idea
that people are trying to pull us down.  Often this is
not so at all.  But sometimes our drinking will be used
  One instance comes to mind in which a malicious
individual was always making friendly little jokes
about an alcoholic's drinking exploits.  In this way he
was slyly carrying tales.  In another case, an alcoholic
was sent to a hospital for treatment.  Only a few knew
of it at first but, within a short time, it was billboarded
throughout the entire company.  Naturally this sort of
thing decreased the man's chance of recovery.  The

146                 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
employer can many times protect the victim from this
kind of talk.  The employer cannot play favorites, but
he can always defend a man from needless provoca-
tion and unfair criticism.
  As a class, alcoholics are energetic people.  They
work hard and they play hard.  Your man should be
on his mettle to make good.  Being somewhat weak-
ened, and faced with physical and mental readjust-
ment to a life which knows no alcohol, he may overdo.
You may have to curb his desire to work sixteen hours
a day.  You may need to encourage him to play once
in a while.  He may wish to do a lot for other alco-
holics and something of the sort may come up during
business hours.  A reasonable amount of latitude will
be helpful.  This work is necessary to maintain his
  After your man has gone along without drinking
for a few months, you may be able to make use of his
services with other employees who are giving you the
alcoholic run-around--provided, of course, they are
willing to have a third party in the picture.  An alco-
holic who has recovered, but holds a relatively un-
important job, can talk to a man with a better position.
Being on a radically different basis of life, he will never
take advantage of the situation.
  Your man may be trusted.  Long experience with
alcoholic excuses naturally arouses suspicion.  When
his wife next calls saying he is sick, you might jump
to the conclusion he is drunk.  If he is, and is still
trying to recover, he will tell you about it even if it
means the loss of his job.  For he knows he must be
honest if he would live at all.  He will appreciate
knowing you are not bothering your head about him,

                        TO EMPLOYERS                     147
that you are not suspicious nor are you trying to run
his life so he will be shielded from temptation to drink.
If he is conscientiously following the program of re-
covery he can go anywhere your business may call
  In case he does stumble, even once, you will have to
decide whether to let him go.  If you are sure he
doesn't mean business, there is no doubt you should
discharge him.  If, on the contrary, you are sure he
is doing his utmost, you may wish to give him another
chance.  But you should feel under no obligation to
keep him on, for your obligation has been well dis-
charged already.
  There is another thing you might wish to do.  If
your organization is a large one, your junior executives
might be provided with this book.  You might let them
know you have no quarrel with the alcoholics of your
organization.  These juniors are often in a difficult
position.  Men under them are frequently their friends.
So, for one reason or another, they cover these men,
hoping matters will take a turn for the better.  They
often jeopardize their own positions by trying to help
serious drinkers who should have been fired long ago,
or else given an opportunity to get well.
  After reading this book, a junior executive can go to
such a man and say approximately this, "Look here,
Ed.  Do you want to stop drinking or not?  You put
me on the spot every time you get drunk.  It isn't fair
to me or the firm.  I have been learning something
about alcoholism.  If you are an alcoholic, you are a
mighty sick man.  You act like one.  The firm wants
to help you get over it, and if you are interested, there
is a way out.  If you take it, your past will be forgotten

148                 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
and the fact that you went away for treatment will
not be mentioned.  But if you cannot or will not stop
drinking, I think you ought to resign."
  Your junior executive may not agree with the con-
tents of our book.  He need not, and often should not
show it to his alcoholic prospect.  But at least he will
understand the problem and will no longer be misled
by ordinary promises.  He will be able to take a posi-
tion with such a man which is eminently fair and
square.  He will have no further reason for covering
up an alcoholic employee.
  It boils right down to this:  No man should be fired
just because he is alcoholic.  If he wants to stop, he
should be afforded a real chance.  If he cannot or does
not want to stop, he should be discharged.  The excep-
tions are few.
  We think this method of approach will accomplish
several things.  It will permit the rehabilitation of good
men.  At the same time you will feel no reluctance to
rid yourself of those who cannot or will not stop.
Alcoholism may be causing your organization consid-
erable damage in its waste of time, men and reputa-
tion.  We hope our suggestions will help you plug up
this sometimes serious leak.  We think we are sensible
when we urge that you stop this waste and give your
worthwhile man a chance.
  The other day an approach was made to the vice
president of a large industrial concern.  He remarked:
"I'm mighty glad you fellows got over your drinking.
But the policy of this company is not to interfere with
the habits of our employees.  If a man drinks so much
that his job suffers, we fire him.  I don't see how you
can be of any help to us for, as you see, we don't have

                        TO EMPLOYERS                     149
any alcoholic problem."  This same company spends
millions for research every year.  Their cost of produc-
tion is figured to a fine decimal point.  They have
recreational facilities.  There is company insurance.
There is a real interest, both humanitarian and busi-
ness, in the well-being of employees.  But alcoholism
--well, they just don't believe they have it.
  Perhaps this is a typical attitude.  We, who have col-
lectively seen a great deal of business life, at least
from the alcoholic angel, had to smile at this gentle-
man's sincere opinion.  He might be shocked if he
knew how much alcoholism is costing his organization
a year.  That company may harbor many actual or
potential alcoholics.  We believe that managers of
large enterprises often have little idea how prevalent
this problem is.  Even if you feel your organization has
no alcoholic problem, it might pay to take another look
down the line.  You may make some interesting dis-
  Of course, this chapter refers to alcoholics, sick
people, deranged men.  What our friend, the vice
president, had in mind was the habitual or whoopee
drinker.  As to them, his policy is undoubtedly sound,
but he did not distinguish between such people and
the alcoholic.
  It is not to be expected that an alcoholic employee
will receive a disproportionate amount of time and
attention.  He should not be made a favorite.  The
right kind of man, the kind who recovers, will not
want this sort of thing.  He will not impose.  Far from
it.  He will work like the devil and thank you to his
dying day.
  Today I own a little company.  There are two

150                 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
alcoholic employees, who produce as much as five
normal salesmen.  But why not?  They have a new
attitude, and they have been saved from a living death.
I have enjoyed every moment spent in getting them
straightened out.