12 steps to recovery as we know it today, was was founded by Bill Wilson in 1935. Later in 1939 Wilson published Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a text which explained its philosophy and methods. We know it today as the 12 steps to recovery.
The group has become synonymous with the concepts of recovery and lasting sobriety and has been instrumental in changing the conversation surrounding addiction since its inception roughly 80 years ago. As the science and psychology of addiction evolves, the role of Alcoholics Anonymous may change somewhat, but is likely to remain a cornerstone of many people’s aftercare efforts, if not their overall recovery journeys.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a global, community-based program that was created to help those struggling with problematic drinking get sober with the support of their peers through daily meetings and discussions surrounding addiction.1 AA gives men and women a place to come together and share their experiences, recover from alcoholism and maintain sobriety.1 Its concept revolves around that premise that alcoholism is an illness that can be managed, but not controlled.
AA was founded by Bill Wilson and his physician, Doctor Bob Smith in 1935 and eventually grew to include two more groups by 1939.2 That same year, Wilson published Alcoholics Anonymous, a text which explained its philosophy and methods.2 We know it today as the 12 Steps to recovery.
Over the years, the 12 Steps to recovery have been adapted by other self-help and addiction recovery groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, to those struggling with other forms of addiction. Additionally, many groups have changed the explicitly Christian overtones of the original 12 Steps to recovery to reflect more secular or agnostic philosophies.3
There are no other requirements to AA other than having a desire to quit drinking, and it is not associated with any organization, sect, politics, denomination, or institution. Those attending AA make a commitment to join either voluntarily, as a continuation of therapy or via court-mandated rehab.
Given the number of individuals struggling with or at risk for an AUD, it is understandable that AA has grown to what it is today—an organization with more than 115,000 groups worldwide.
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