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Cause of Relapse: “Slips and Human Nature”



William D.

William D. “Silky” Silkworth, MD

Cause of Relapse: “Slips and Human Nature”

This is the best description of the cause of relapse we have ever read.The following was published in the A.A. Grapevine, January 1947. Dr. Silkworth contributed the two letters included in “The Doctor’s Opinion” in the Big Book.


By William D.”Silky” Silkworth, M.D.

The mystery of slips is not so deep as it may appear. While it does seem odd that an alcoholic, who has restored himself to a dignified place among his fellowmen and continues dry for years, should suddenly throw all his happiness overboard and find himself again in mortal peril of drowning in liquor, often the reason is simple.

People are inclined to say, “There is something peculiar about alcoholics. They seem to be well, yet at any moment they may turn back to their old ways. You can never be sure.”

This is largely twaddle. The alcoholic is a sick person. Under the technique of Alcoholics Anonymous he gets well—that is to say, his disease is arrested. There is nothing unpredictable about him any more than there is anything weird about a person who has arrested diabetes.

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