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Mon Jun 10, 2019, 05:03 AM

84 Years Ago Today; Dr Bob takes his last drink; Bob and BillW form Alcoholics Anonymous [View all]


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship with the stated purpose of enabling its members to "stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety." AA is nonprofessional, self-supporting, and apolitical. Its only membership requirement is a desire to stop drinking. The AA program of recovery is set forth in the Twelve Steps.

AA was founded in Akron, Ohio when in 1935 one alcoholic, Bill Wilson, talked to another alcoholic, Bob Smith, about the nature of alcoholism and a possible solution. With the help of other early members, the book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism was written in 1939. Its title became the name of the organization and is now usually referred to as "The Big Book". AA's initial Twelve Traditions were introduced in 1946 to help the fellowship be stable and unified while disengaged from "outside issues" and influences.

The Traditions recommend that members remain anonymous in public media, altruistically help other alcoholics, and that AA groups avoid official affiliations with other organizations. They also advise against dogma and coercive hierarchies. Subsequent fellowships such as Narcotics Anonymous have adapted the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions to their respective primary purposes.

AA membership has since spread internationally "across diverse cultures holding different beliefs and values", including geopolitical areas resistant to grassroots movements. Close to two million people worldwide are estimated to be members of AA as of 2016.



1935 Dr. Bob sober
Silkworth believed Wilson was making a mistake by telling new converts of his "Hot Flash" conversion and trying to apply the Oxford Group's principles. He advised Wilson of the need to deflate the alcoholic. He told Wilson to give them the medical business, and give it to them hard: tell them of the obsession that condemns them to drink and the physical sensitivity that condemns them to go mad or die. He believed that if this message were told to them by another alcoholic, it would break down their ego. Only then could the alcoholic use the other "medicine"—the ethical principles he had picked up from the Oxford Groups.

Subsequently, during a business trip in Akron, Ohio, Wilson was tempted to drink and realized he must talk to another alcoholic to stay sober. He phoned local ministers to ask if they knew any alcoholics. Norman Sheppard directed him to Oxford member Henrietta Seiberling, whose group had been trying to help a desperate alcoholic named Dr. Bob Smith.

While he was a student at Dartmouth College, Smith started drinking heavily and later almost failed to graduate from medical school because of it. He opened a medical practice and married, but his drinking put his business and family life in jeopardy. For 17 years Smith's daily routine was to stay sober until the afternoon, get drunk, sleep, then take sedatives to calm his morning jitters. Seiberling convinced Smith to talk with Wilson, but Smith insisted the meeting be limited to 15 minutes. Smith was so impressed with Wilson's knowledge of alcoholism and ability to share from his own experience, however, that their discussion lasted six hours.

Wilson moved into Bob and Anne Smith's family home. There both men made plans to take their message of recovery on the road. During this period, however, Smith returned to drinking while attending a medical convention. During his stay at the Smith home, Wilson joined Smith and his wife in the Oxford Group's practice of morning guidance sessions with meditations and Bible readings. The Bible's Book of James became an important inspiration for Smith and the alcoholics of the Akron group. Wilson spent a month working with Smith, and Smith became the first alcoholic Wilson brought to sobriety. Smith's last drink was on June 10, 1935 (a beer to steady his hand for surgery), and this is considered by members to be the founding date of AA.

A new program

Dr. Robert Smith's House in Akron

Wilson and Smith sought to develop a simple program to help even the worst alcoholics, along with a more successful approach that empathized with alcoholics yet convinced them of their hopelessness and powerlessness. They believed active alcoholics were in a state of insanity rather than a state of sin, an idea they developed independently of the Oxford Group.[35][36]

To produce a spiritual conversion necessary for sobriety and sanity, alcoholics needed to realize that they couldn't conquer alcoholism by themselves—that surrendering to a higher power and working with another alcoholic were required. Sober alcoholics could show drinking alcoholics that it was possible to enjoy life without alcohol, thus inspiring a spiritual conversion that would help ensure sobriety.

The tactics employed by Smith and Wilson to bring about the conversion was first to determine if an individual had a drinking problem. To do this they would first approach the man's wife, and later they would approach the individual directly by going to his home or by inviting him to the Smiths' home. The objective was to get the man to surrender, and the surrender involved a confession of powerlessness and a prayer that said the man believed in a higher power and could be restored to sanity. This process would sometimes take place in the kitchen, or at other times it was at the man's bed with Wilson kneeling on one side of the bed and Smith on the other side. This way the man would be led to admit his defeat. Wilson and Smith believed that until a man had surrendered, he couldn't attend the Oxford meetings. No one was allowed to attend a meeting without being sponsored. Thus a new prospect underwent many visits around the clock with members of the Akron team and undertook many prayer sessions, as well as listening to Dr. Smith cite the medical facts about alcoholism. A new prospect was also put on a special diet of sauerkraut, tomatoes and Karo syrup to reduce his alcoholic cravings. The Smith family home in Akron became a center for alcoholics.

Two realizations came from Wilson's work in Akron. The first was that to remain sober, an alcoholic needed another alcoholic to work with. The second was the concept of the 24 hours—that if the alcoholic could resist the urge to drink by postponing it for one day, one hour, or even one minute, he could remain sober



Dr Robert Smith...

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Reply 84 Years Ago Today; Dr Bob takes his last drink; Bob and BillW form Alcoholics Anonymous [View all]
Dennis Donovan Jun 10 OP
malaise Jun 10 #1
marble falls Jun 10 #14
Rhiannon12866 Jun 10 #2
Dennis Donovan Jun 10 #4
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 10 #7
Dennis Donovan Jun 10 #9
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 10 #11
tymorial Jun 10 #13
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 10 #24
Rhiannon12866 Jun 11 #38
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 11 #40
Rhiannon12866 Jun 12 #41
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 12 #43
Rhiannon12866 Jun 12 #44
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 10 #3
tymorial Jun 10 #12
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 10 #16
murielm99 Jun 10 #5
Dennis Donovan Jun 10 #6
murielm99 Jun 10 #8
Dennis Donovan Jun 10 #10
marble falls Jun 10 #15
Dennis Donovan Jun 10 #17
marble falls Jun 10 #20
usaf-vet Jun 10 #18
Dennis Donovan Jun 10 #19
HopeAgain Jun 10 #22
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HopeAgain Jun 10 #23
WhiskeyGrinder Jun 10 #25
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Rhiannon12866 Jun 11 #39
cally Jun 10 #28
demosincebirth Jun 10 #29
Cuthbert Allgood Jun 10 #30
WhiskeyGrinder Jun 10 #32
demosincebirth Jun 10 #33
WhiskeyGrinder Jun 10 #35
demosincebirth Jun 11 #37
TheBlackAdder Jun 12 #42
ismnotwasm Jun 10 #31
demosincebirth Jun 10 #34
KentuckyWoman Jun 10 #36