Archive for May, 2000

‘Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict’ Dead at 83

‘Dr. Paul’ Passed Away May 19, 2000

The man who wrote the chapter “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict” in the book Alcoholics Anonymouswhich contains the often-quoted Page 449 has died of complications following heart surgery at age 83.

Dr. Paul Ohliger, author of the famous passage on acceptance on pages 449 and 450 of “The Big Book” died Friday, May 19, 2000 in Mission Viejo, California.

He was a power to all of us in the program and I don’t think any of us can think of “acceptance” without thinking of his story, said one A.A. member who called “Dr. Paul” his sponsor.

Dr. Paul’s story “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict” was published in the Third Edition of the Big Book; his remarks on acceptance, which begins on page 449 (Page 417 in the 4th Edition), is one of the most often quoted and profound sections of the book, which is used as a “textbook” on recovery by millions of alcoholics.

Bronze Mocassins

In a July 1995 interview in the Grapevine,, the international journal of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Paul was asked how he came to write the chapter.

The editor of the Grapevine – a woman named Paula C. – was also the chairperson of the committee to review the stories. She wrote to tell me that the magazine was going to use an article I’d written on why doctors shouldn’t prescribe pills for alcoholics.So she knew my writing a little bit and she asked me if I had a dual problem and would I be willing to write an article about it for consideration in the Big Book. My reaction to that was the same as my reaction when it was suggested I come to AA – I thought it was one of the dumbest ideas I’d ever heard and I ignored her letter.

Later on she called and asked for the article, and I lied and said I hadn’t had time to write it. She extended the deadline and called me a second time. I had a gal working in the office with me who was in the program, and she thought it would be nice to have typed a story that might end up in the Big Book, so she said to me, “You write it, I’ll type it, and we’ll send it in.”

So that’s what we did. But by that time they had done another printing of the Second Edition, and I thought, Fine, that means they won’t use it. But Paula said she liked it and the Grapevine published it with the title “Bronzed Mocassins” and an illustration of a pair of bronze mocassins.

Eventually it was put in the Big Book, but the title was changed, and my guess is that they wanted to show that an alcoholic could be a professional and be an addict, but that wouldn’t make him not an alcoholic.

It worked well but maybe it overshot the mark, and now one of the most uncomfortable things for me is when people run up to me at a meeting and tell me how glad they are the story is in the book.

They say they’ve been fighting with their home group because their home group won’t let them talk about drugs. So they show their group the story and they say, “By God, now you’ll have to let me talk about drugs.” And I really hate to see the story as a divisive thing. I don’t think we came to AA to fight each other.

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

May 19th, 2000  in Alcoholism No Comments »