What Is the History of Alcoholic Anonymous?
Classified as a fellowship, Alcoholic Anonymous is a mutual aid movement with an objective of helping alcoholics achieve sobriety and ensure they will stay sober. The movement was founded by Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson in 1935 at Ohio. Together, they developed “The," which is considered to be the heart of this fellowship.
A movement called the Oxford Group was started in 1908, and members of this group were able to address their drinking problems by surrendering control to the group and giving testimony on how they were able to overcome their drinking problems. Bill Wilson attended this group and was able to stay sober for the first time in his bout with alcoholism. His only frustration was that he was unable to get anyone else to follow his lead of staying sober. When Bill Wilson traveled to Akron, Ohio for business, he met Dr. Bob while staying at the Mayflower Hotel. The historic meeting was said to be when the seed of Alcoholic Anonymous was planted.
The Twelve Steps
The prevailing theory behind Alcoholics Anonymous is that alcoholism is a disease. For this reason, a person can only be rid of such disease after undergoing an alcohol treatment program. AA was able to summarize the program in twelve (12) basic steps (as published):
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
These steps have also been adopted by other movements such as Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Debtors Anonymous. In essence, it involves the following:
- Admitting you have a problem.
- Recognizing the existence of a greater power who will give you strength.
- Examining past mistakes.
- Making amends.
- Living a new life while following a new behavior code.
- Helping others who suffer from similar addiction.