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How Was AA Founded?

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AA began in Akron, Ohio in 1935. A meeting occurred between a New York stockbroker, Bill W., and an Akron surgeon, Dr. Bob. Both had been deemed alcoholics of the hopeless variety. The origins of AA are traced back to the Oxford Group which emphasized self-improvement through personal inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation, and carrying the message to others.

A hopeless alcoholic in the early 30’s was referred to the Oxford Group by Dr. Carl June. Jung believed his alcoholism was medically hopeless and that the only solution would be a spiritual experience. He referred him to the Oxford Group. This individual introduced his friend Ebby to the group and the two men for a time were able to stop drinking.

Bill reconnected with his old friend, Ebby T. at the peak of his disease. Newly sober, Ebby reached out to his old friend Bill and shared the miracle of his sobriety. Although Ebby did not stay sober, sharing his experience, strength, and hope helped Bill begin his sober journey.

Bill had a spiritual experience after his last hospital visit in 1934. The result was a feeling of freedom and peace like he had never known. He stopped drinking and spent the rest of his life sharing that same gift with other alcoholics. Like Ebby, Bill continued to share his experience with other alcoholics to ensure his sobriety.

When Dr. Bob and Bill met, there was an immediate effect on the doctor. Bill told him alcoholism was a disease. He had learned from Dr. William D. Silkworth, during his treatment, that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions, and body. Dr. Bob had never heard alcoholism was a disease. This interaction between these two men created the foundation for AA.

Both men began working with alcoholics at a local hospital in Akron. Later that year a second group of sober alcoholics following the same principles surfaced in New York. By 1939 there were over 100 sober alcoholics in 3 founding groups. It was this same year the fellowship published their book, Alcoholics Anonymous.

The book was written mostly by Bill and explained the program’s 12 steps. It was designed as a guide for those dealing with alcoholism. The book included case histories of some of its members. The publication of the text along with a series of articles being published about AA resulted in membership in the program ballooning in the next year.

Membership in AA is now world-wide. Membership has gone from those 2 founding members to over 2 million members today. AA encourages members to work the 12 steps and stay sober one day at a time.

One step at a time, one day at a time, you can recover. At Design For Change, we offer refuge to those seeking to win against addiction because there is freedom in recovery. There is hope. Call us today to learn more about our long-term treatment programs and recovery services creating change, one step at a time. (877) 267-3646

How Was AA Founded?