The Tragedy of Audrey Kishline
and the Future of Moderation Management

Note: Audrey Conn (Kishline) has passed on, but her legacy remains.
See our Memorial Page.


From the MM Board of Directors:

                Recent news stories have informed us all of the horrible tragedy that has occurred in Audrey Kishline’s life. Driving while severely intoxicated, Audrey was in the wrong lane and caused a collision in which two other people were killed and she, herself, severely injured. She has recently pled guilty to vehicular homicide, and faces a substantial prison sentence. We all in MM are deeply shocked by these events, and our sympathy goes out to both Audrey and the family of the two people who were killed. We also fully support Audrey’s continuing efforts to address her drinking problem via abstinence.

                Following those news stories there has been much discussion on our own listservs as well as others, in our chat rooms and in face to face meetings about what these tragic events mean to MM. Some organizations, most specifically, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) have taken this opportunity to attack MM and moderation approaches generally in a cynical attempt to use this tragedy to advance their own particular agenda with respect to dealing with alcohol problems. Jack Trimpey, founder of Rational Recovery has also weighed in on the web with invective against moderation approaches and MM. Couple this with inaccurate, sloppy and irresponsible journalism on the part of ABC News and the Associated Press (other news organizations, notably the Seattle Times, have attempted to be good journalistic citizens and have reported the story accurately and fairly), and you have a vocal array of forces apparently aimed at MM’s destruction.

 Other organizations, particularly our sister (brother?) organization S.M.A.R.T. Recovery, and individuals in the scientific and clinical communities have been extremely supportive of MM. For this we should all be deeply grateful. The message that alternatives to the traditional disease concept approaches offered or imposed upon problem drinkers in the U.S. need to be encouraged and supported is truly heartening for all who have been reluctant to seek help for problem drinking within the traditional system.

What do these events mean for MM?

Was Audrey’s Accident a "Failure" of MM?

Let’s first look at what the facts are, as we know them (and our knowledge of the full story is woefully incomplete!). In January, Audrey emailed the various MM listservs to indicate that she had decided to shift her drinking goal to abstinence, and planned to attend AA, S.M.A.R.T., and WFS. She also withdrew from administrative activities with respect to MM, activities (such as maintaining the website, answering the national contact telephone, etc.) that were undertaken by various members to whom we are all grateful for going the extra mile for MM. In March, the tragic accident occurred, and only in the last few weeks have stories appeared in the media detailing what is known.

For reasons best known to himself, Audrey’s lawyer has chosen to publicly distance her from MM, and others have picked up on this and other aspects of the story to assert that MM “failed” Audrey Kishline. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Audrey’s involvement in MM, and her adherence to one of its basic notions—that of providing a supportive environment in which individuals can make the decision whether to cut down or quit drinking—surely played some role in her decision to shift her drinking goal to abstinence more than two months before the accident.

The more cynical among us might point to the accident, using the logic of NCADD, as a “failure of AA”—as that was the support group Audrey was attending at the time, to the best of our knowledge. Cynical people might also point to the accident as a “failure of an abstinence-focused approach” as abstinence was Audrey’s publicly stated goal at the time of the accident, to the best of our knowledge.

The cynics are dead wrong.

Audrey’s tragedy is unrelated to MM, AA, S.M.A.R.T. or any other support group. It is her own personal tragedy, and one she must live with for the rest of her life. No one “blames” AA when, as is more common than not, persons attending AA relapse. Why should MM be to blame when one of its members relapses? Audrey was struggling with a drinking problem, and her struggle, like the struggle of all MM, AA.,S.M.A.R.T. and other support group members, was her own personal struggle. In fact, to the extent that Audrey was able to move toward a healthier place with respect to drinking during her time in both MM and AA, both support groups did their job!

What Will Happen to MM Now?

MM will continue. An active group of members in New York City and around the US are in the process of organizing a movement to reincorporate, revitalize and revise MM as it now stands. MM continues to provide assistance to many people, and will continue to do so, we hope on an even larger scale.

The MM Board of Directors fully support the efforts of this group of MM members to insure the survival and continued health and vitality of MM. While there are several apparent obstacles to the plans as they currently stand, these members and the MM Board are confident that we will succeed. Keep an eye on this website and on the various MM listservs for developments as they unfold.

Finally, we want to thank all of you who have contributed time, effort and sometimes money to MM. We will do our utmost to retain the trust and confidence you have shown in us, and to insure that your efforts will not be wasted. As one of our most respected members, Ana, says:
     "The work continues."

Marc Kern Ph.D.

Members of the Board of Directors
Moderation Management

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