Stanton Peele
 Stanton Peele's Comment 
 on Audrey Kishline's 
 Accident and Statement 

Audrey Kishline

Audrey Kishline, founder of Moderation Management (MM), a self-help group for problem drinkers to control their drinking, has been in a drunken car accident in which a 12-year-old girl and her father were killed. Audrey was highly intoxicated and driving on the wrong side of an interstate highway. After forming MM in 1993 and writing Moderate Drinking in 1994 (for which Stanton wrote the introduction), Audrey announced in January of 2000 that she was returning to AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] with a goal of abstinence. The accident occurred in March of this year. In June, facing a trial for the accident, Kishline's lawyer, John Crowley, announced, "The accident and the subsequent intensive alcohol treatment she has undergone have made Kishline realize that moderation management is nothing but alcoholics covering up their problem."

Immediately, people began blaming Stanton for Audrey's behavior, since Stanton had supported Audrey in founding MM, although he hadn't spoken to her in five years or more. The most notable accuser was Jack Trimpey, the founder of Rational Recovery (who has been labeling Stanton the devil for years). Yet, that the timing of Audrey's accident suggests to us that her relapse was instead linked to her recent shifts to AA and abstinence. In fact, people don't depart from successful moderation after years, and then behave so destructively, without having experienced other changes in their lives.

Meanwhile, now that Audrey herself was labeling MM as a collection of drunks in denial indicates that her trial for vehicular homicide will mark a major media event, offering many a chance to attack those who want to reduce their drinking and those who say it can be done. The first in line, was the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. Of course, those who have successfuly attended MM and changed their drinking habits will feel differently, along with others who have learned to drink moderately, many of whom have commented at this site. George Vaillant, whose writing on alcoholism is notable for its lack of intellectual integrity, quickly jumped in. One AAer wrote an interesting letter to say that he disagreed with attacking MM because of Audrey, although he needed to abstain and go to AA.

On June 29th, Audrey pled guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide. Her lawyer again noted that Audrey had realized that MM "was nothing but alcoholics covering up their problem", now stating she knew this in January, when she resigned from MM. But this statement hardly seems to work to help her. In addition, this statement contradicts her announcement to the MM list that MM continued to be valid for some, and that she was switching her own goals, as anyone was free to do. That there will not be a trial avoids the defense being confronted with these contradictions.

I think important issues are that Audrey entered AA and sought to abstain some months before her drunken accident. One could maintain that she never displayed such extreme drunken and antisocial behavior (and getting .26 BAL drunk and driving a pick-up on the wrong side of an interstate highway is generally not going to go unnoticed) UNTIL she was striving to abstain through AA -- that what Marlatt refers to as the Abstinence Violation Effect seems to have been in action -- the "I'm not supposed to drink at all; God, I've drunk, now let it all hang out!" effect.

But beneath all of this, I suspect Audrey was in some very bad place in her life, that drove her first to find that her efforts to moderate were not working after almost a decade where they seem to have been successful (I've certainly sipped wine over dinner with Audrey), and then contributed to that awful accident.

As to comments that Audrey was now putting down MM as a bunch of drunks in denial actually came from her lawyer's lips, and might be legal strategy on the lawyer's part, I see it as also a very predictable psychological reaction. Audrey woke up in the hospital having killed a 12-year old girl and her father -- that's a tough row to hoe. She went into 12-step abstinence treatment (which she had attended in the past, when it did not take), and, this time, she was very willing to grasp their message that abstinence is the only way and everyone else is deceiving themselves, as a way to try to put her life back together and to seek some peace of mind.

Graphic Rule

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