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November 12, 1982

Impaired Physicians, Professional Psychotherapy, and Alcoholics Anonymous

JAMA. 1982;248(18):2237. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330180011010

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To the Editor.—  The description by Herrington et al (1982;247:2253) of their program for physicians with substance abuse was encouraging but disappointing. Despite their apparent success, they perpetuated two ideas that I believe are dangerous for physicians with this problem. These people are not helped by believing either that they are elite or that intellectual insight will set them free of their addiction. To excuse them from regular Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings to attend a weekly "doctors' AA" group and to put them immediately into psychotherapy as they are just getting sober is to do them a disservice.I know. I am an alcoholic physician, sober through daily help from AA, happy and fully functional professionally. I went the same routes they describe—of special doctors' groups and psychiatry—and found these to reinforce my feelings of being different from the rest of the human race and therefore unable to follow their