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What is the History of AA?

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The history of Alcoholics Anonymous dates back to the 1930’s. Two men who were real alcoholics could not stay sober no matter what. A series of events brought them together and that was the birth of a now worldwide organization, Alcoholics Anonymous. The program that started with those two men now has over 2 million members worldwide.

Bill W. and Dr. Bob were the co-founders of AA. Bill was the first of the two to get sober. He was visited by a friend named Ebby who has been attending the Oxford Group. Ebby had found sobriety and came and shared it with Bill. Bill saw a profound change in his friend and wondered how he did it. Ebby told him the six steps he took that led him to sobriety.

After years of hospitalizations and running out of hope, Bill W., a New York stockbroker was willing to try. He followed Ebby’s guidance and also got sober. He attempted to share the message with other alcoholics, but none stayed sober. When he met Dr. Bob, an Akron, Ohio surgeon, something was different. Dr. Bob understood from Bill that alcoholism was an allergy and an illness of the mind. He stayed sober from that day forward. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded June 10, 1935.

Four years into AA there were three groups and 100 sober alcoholics. Bill and Bob worked tirelessly to share the message with other suffering alcoholics. Those newly sober members then passed it on to other new people.

With some help from Rockefeller and a few magazine articles, hundreds began reaching out for help. The book Alcoholics Anonymous was now available and a small office in New York had been established to communicate with those seeking help. Over the next 10 years the fellowship ballooned. By 1950 there were 100,000 sober alcoholics.

1950 was also the first International Convention located in Cleveland. Dr. Bob gave his final talk that year with a focus on keeping AA simple. The twelve traditions were adopted at that convention. Dr. Bob died later that year on November 16.

Today there are AA meetings all over the world and many offered virtually. The basic texts of AA have been translated to many languages and are widely available for purchase.  While the fellowship has grown astronomically, the basics are the same. One alcoholics is uniquely qualified to help another alcoholic. You can stay sober one day at a time.

There is freedom in recovery. Design For Change is changing lives one step at a time through a multifaceted treatment program and recovery services. Our 12 step based treatment programs offer a refuge from recovery bringing together families in the hope of sobriety. Call us today for information: (877) 267-3646

AA history