Alcoholics Anonymous started in Akron, Ohio. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith started the first group. Both were alcoholics, Bill W. got sober through a program where he felt a spiritual experience that changed his life forever. At this point, he was sober and dedicated to helping others get sober.
On a trip to Ohio, he met with Dr. Bob Smith, an alcoholic. He then began to explain how alcoholism is a disease of the mind, an emotional disease, and a physical disease. The talk with Bill W. convinced Dr. Bob to get sober and was successful. At this point, Bill W. and Dr. Bob decided that they had to help other people struggling with alcoholism.
And so the first AA group was created in 1935. It was at first not called Alcoholics Anonymous; it was simply a small group dedicated to helping other alcoholics get sober. By the Fall of 1935, a second group was formed in New York. By 1939, there was a third group had formed in Cleveland. Within the four years since the first group formed, there had been over 100 alcoholics that helped with those three groups.
In early 1939, the primary textbook was published, and it was called Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism. This book was also known as The Big Book because of its size. This is where these groups started to be called Alcoholics Anonymous groups. It is also the turning point of this fellowship as it gave it much more exposure. There were some articles written about Alcoholics Anonymous in New York. This promotion quickly brought 800 calls from people who needed help. By the end of 1940, there were 2,000 members within the fellowship.
There was more and more mouth-to-mouth on Alcoholics Anonymous, and it grew bigger and bigger. By March 1941, Alcoholics Anonymous had spread to Canada, and there were now 6,000 members. During the 40s, the fellowship grew tenfold and started spreading worldwide. In 1950, the membership had grown to over 100,000 people.
And it hasn’t stopped growing ever since.