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Soviets, Americans Allied in New War; Common Foe This Time: Alcohol Abuse

Timothy F. Kirn
JAMA. 1987;258(18):2480-2485. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400180014003.
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AN AMERICAN we will call Ernie, from Akron, Ohio, is sitting at a long table in an official meeting room in Moscow, opposite Soviet government officials and medical researchers. The broad-nosed, square-chinned, former blue-collar worker tells the story of the time a drunk driver hit his car. In the emergency department following the accident, he approached the other driver's wife and said, "I hope I see Bill in an AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] meeting soon." Looking puzzled, he says, she asked, "Who are you?" "I'm the guy in the other car," Ernie says he answered.

Explaining his sentiment to the Soviets, Ernie says: "It's terrible when it happens to you, but I couldn't get angry with him. I know what he's going through."

Welcome to the first US-Soviet Dialogue on Common Problems, focusing on alcohol problems, and the next to the last day of a two-week exchange program that brought 16


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