Group meeting - History of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as A.A., is heralded as one of the most renowned organizations for helping individuals recover from their alcohol use disorder. Millions continue to reap the benefits from the programs, weekly meetings, as well as the influence it has had on other programs, including alcohol addiction treatment in Passaic NJ. All of this is common knowledge, but what many don’t know is the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and the events that transpired to make it what it is today.

The Early History of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous was first created in 1935 by ex-alcoholic, Bill Wilson. Wilson had been dealt an unfortunate hand with his alcoholism, and many aspects of his personal and professional life began to falter. His prominent career in Wall Street was steadily declining due to his numerous hospital visits. Friends tried to get help for Bill, including his friend Ebby Thatcher who had found sobriety through the Christian movement dubbed “The Oxford Group”. Another figure, (Dr. William Duncan) had also influenced Bill with religion, claiming that the disease of alcohol is something only God can cure. The enticing eventually worked. As Wilson continued to cultivate his relationship with God, he made the courageous step to quit alcohol, cold turkey. Bill strongly emphasized that alcoholism was a disease of the mind, emotions, and body.

Working Relationship Between Wilson And Dr. Bob Smith

Despite the fact that he was sober, the temptation for alcohol never waned. While on a trip to Akron, Ohio in 1935, Bill met Dr. Bob Smith, another individual in recovery. Shortly after their initial meeting, the pair co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous. It was the quintessential definition of humble beginnings, but it eventually snowballed into a larger-than-life movement. The two helped about 40 alcoholics during the first few years, emphasizing the importance of sobriety and the relationship with God, for getting through the toughest of days. The organization would operate out of people’s homes, and many alcoholics found themselves cohabitating with Wilson.

Slow Growth, Followed By Quick Expansion

In the early days, the organization consisted of three founding groups and by 1939, the three groups collectively produced about 100 sober alcoholics. In that same year, the Fellowship had published a basic textbook, Alcoholics Anonymous. The text was written by Bill and reviewed by many of the early members. It explained the philosophy of A.A. and its methods. The core of the work, as it is colloquially known today, are the Twelve steps of recovery. Additionally, there were also inclusions of case histories of 30 recovering alcoholics. From that point onward, A.A.’s development soared. The book and the new base of operations were put to use. Liberty Magazine had published an article about the program, resulting in about 800 calls from those pleading for help. In 1940, Mr. Rockefeller (who was involved in the program), hosted a dinner to publicize A.A.

Additional Milestones Throughout The Years:

  • In 1941, the membership for A.A. had jumped to 6000 people (due to an article from The Saturday Evening Post), with the number of groups also multiplying. The Fellowship had spread throughout the U.S. and Canada.
  • By 1950, 100,000 people recovered from alcoholism worldwide.

Dr. Bob’s Impact In Ohio As Co-Founder

Dr. Bob Smith devoted himself to hospital care for alcoholics. He spent time introducing A.A. principles to them. Moreover, large numbers of alcoholics went to Akron, Ohio to receive care at St. Thomas Hospital where Dr. Bob became a member of the staff. Both he and another staff member cared for about 5,000 sufferers. Upon his passing in 1950, Sister Ignatia continued to work at Cleveland’s Charity Hospital. The local A.A. groups stepped in and 10,000 more sufferers found A.A. there. During this time, the program had hosted its first International Convention at Cleveland. It is here where Dr. Bob made his last appearance, emphasizing the importance of retaining A.A.’s simplicity.

The Advent Of The General Service Conference

Another significant event had also spawned from the impact of the program. The New York Office had expanded its activities which consisted of public relations, advice giving to new groups, service with hospitals, and cooperation with governing agencies in the alcoholism field. The headquarters was implementing the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous in many facets of society. Books and pamphlets were being published. Despite the fact that word was being spread, the core services were still overseen by an isolated board of trustees. Their only link to the fellowship was with Bill and Dr. Bob. As the co-founders had predicted many years earlier, it became mandatory to link A.A.’s trustees with the Fellowship it was serving. Delegates from all over the country were then called in to discuss. Then, for the first time ever, the trusteeship became responsible for Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole, leading to the creation of the A.A. General Service Conference. A.A., had certainly had its coming of age, influencing addiction treatments centers like ours to offer alcohol addiction treatment in Passaic NJ.

A.A.’s Influence For Alcohol Addiction Treatment In Passaic NJ

Part of our job is to educate you on matters that affect our close-knit community. Had it not been for the all-hands-on-deck involvement from its founders and early members, Alcoholics Anonymous might not be the behemoth as we know it today. The global movement has influenced centers like North Jersey Recovery Center, to adopt some sound programs for alcohol addiction treatment in Passaic NJ and the surrounding areas. If you would like to learn more about our programs and resources for A.A., please contact us today!