Regarding Markus Heilig’s Sept. 1 Sunday Opinions piece, “The right medicine for alcoholics”:

Mr. Heilig never used a term that belongs in any discussion of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and alcoholism: sobriety. AA is not simply an “abstinence” program; it is where alcoholics can go to learn how to lead a useful life and work through many strong emotions. Medication is fine, if people want to circumvent working through issues, making sober friends and finding a trusted confidante in a sponsor.

As for Mr. Heilig’s “mind-reading” that Bill W. and Dr. Bob would agree with his points, well, that is just stunningly ill-informed.  

Patrick Clarke, Rockville

I agree that relapse-reducing drugs might have some benefit for alcoholics, but they must be used in the right way. Citing studies that show that some alcoholics “are able to return to social alcohol use” is not the right way.

While many people enjoy social drinking, it is far from an important factor for a happy life. The risks for an alcoholic to have a return to social drinking as a “goal” far outweigh any potential benefits. If medicines are used to support this goal, some alcoholics who might otherwise have pursued abstinence might choose the goal of medically aided social drinking. This may cause more harm than good, a violation of the most basic tenet of medicine.

Dennis K. Heffner, Annapolis