Alcoholics Anonymous

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Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid movement claiming more than 2 million members, declaring its "primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety", founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (Bill W. and Dr. Bob) in Akron, Ohio.[1][2] With other early members, Wilson and Smith developed AA's program of spiritual and character development, the Twelve Steps. The Twelve Traditions are AA's recommendations for its groups, stressing anonymity, altruism, and inclusion of all who want to stop drinking. The Traditions also recommend that AA groups try to steer clear of dogma, hierarchies and involvement in public issues. Subsequent fellowships, such as Narcotics Anonymous, have adapted the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions.[3][4]

AA's first female member, Florence Rankin, joined in 1936, and the first non-Protestant member, a Roman Catholic, joined in 1939.[5][6] AA membership has since spread "across diverse cultures holding different beliefs and values", including geopolitical areas resistant to grassroot movements.[7]

Although AA views discussions on the medical nature of alcoholism as beyond its scope, AA is regarded as a proponent and popularizer of the disease theory of alcoholism.[3][8][9][10] The American Psychiatric Association has recommended sustained treatment in conjunction with AA's program, or similar community resources, for chronic alcoholics unresponsive to brief treatment.[11] AA's own data state that 64% drop out of AA in their first year,[12][13] but its program is credited with helping many alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety.[14]

AA's name derived from its first book, titled Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism (for subsequent editions the subtitle read "...Many Thousands of Men and Women...") Informally called "the Big Book", it describes AA's program, details its early history, and contains brief autobiographical sketches of AA members. In subsequent editions the first 164 pages of the Big Book have stayed virtually unchanged, while the autobiographical stories which make up the latter half of the book have been subject to removal, addition, or retitling.[citation needed]


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