FINE words from Fr Livingstone ("Back Row of the Pews", April 28), but actions would have spoken louder: 1 am the alcoholic doctor referred to in the accompanying article, and number among my acquaintance several alcoholic priests who have undergone treatment at Our Lady of Victory, Stroud. Sad to say, I have en..ountered little long-term contented sobriety among them: only a soul-destroying bitterness and resentment at the institutional and authoritarian treatment in "Stroud", and at the systetn which sent them there.
Those who do continue to recover do so only with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous; help which in my opinion seems to hase been delayed by the time spent in Stroud, and for which compulsoi y "bussing" to AA
meetings is no substitute.
kVhile there is the occasional es-"guest" tvho feels Stroud made a man of him, possibly in much the same way as National Service may have done in days gone by . the mote prevalent attitude is one typified by a priest to whom the idea of returning for one day for a follow-up visit was so horrific that he got drunk on the journey! Among the clergy at large. it still seems that Stroud graduates al e si igniatised for life.
As ms wile rightly attests in her article, there is no substitute lot direct one-to-one contact m ith other recovering alcoholics, but one must he allowed to choose one's own friends and sponsor: not has e them imposed_ Similarly, it is wrong to cut a sick man off from those most capable of offering him love and support during this time at Our Lady of
Victory. Fr Adam %%as actively discouraged from receiving letters and sisitors, and adverse comment was esen made on the flowers and messages of support and encouragement from his parishioners.
If an alcoholic in the early stages of recovery requites specialised medical help and many do then this is best offered by one of the many NHS treatment units in the patient's own locality, and not by a religious order far from home, no matter how laudable their intentions. Contrary to the suggestion in your editorial in the same issue of the Herald, there are no experts in the long-term treatment of alcoholism: only Fellow-tray eller% across a eritable minefield good intentions and misinformation.