Before postgraduate courses on addiction, before there were 3000 members in the American Society for Addiction Medicine, before medical student scholarship programs in addictions, before curricula changed to include alcoholism as a "primary disease," and before extensive impaired-MD programs were in place, it was easy to ignore the alcoholism in our patients. In a 1940s JAMA review of Alcoholics Anonymous, a book used by its members as a guide to living and remaining alcohol free, the reviewer stated that the book "was of little redeeming value." It took 35 years for the first million copies to be sold and ten additional years for the next 10 million to be sold. Now 2500 to 3000 are sold every day of the year.
For years, the attitude of the medical profession paralleled that of the JAMA reviewer, except for physicians who looked upon alcoholism as a disease and who utilized Alcoholics Anonymous