What is Alcoholics Anonymous? What are the twelve steps?


Alcoholics Anonymous is a society that was created by a couple of ‘recovered’ alcoholics back in 1935.
Bill was a New York stock broker and Bob was a medical doctor from Akron. Both men struggled with problems brought on by alcohol use. By the time they met, Bill Wilson had already decided that abstinence was the only way that he could live a safe and productive life. He was actively maintaining his sobriety by helping other alcoholics. He found the strength to recover by engaging with others who were experiencing similar distress.

As a patient of Dr. William Silkworth in New York, Bill Wilson learned to understand alcoholism as a condition of the mind, emotions, and physical body. This understanding really resonated with him and set him clearly in a new direction. He began the process of restructuring his life, eliminating bad habits and adopting new habits to take their place. When he shared his insights with his new friend, Dr. Bob Smith, who was also an alcoholic, Bob was profoundly inspired to follow his lead. The relationship between the three men was the nucleus from which AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, evolved.

In 1939, a text written by Bill, explained A.A.’s philosophy and methods, the fundamental principles of Twelve Steps of Recovery, which has become the foundation for AA and related groups. At the core of this philosophy is the power of fellowship. Bill understood that it was the relationship with his doctor, and the doctor’s non-judgmental acknowledgement of his condition, that was the key to his recovery. Dr. Silkworth was able to reach Bill with his empathetic understanding and care, and in turn Bill did the same for Bob, and thus a way to treat alcoholism based solely on non-judgemental fellowship began to emerge.

More than 70 years later AA has evolved to incorporate the needs of disparate groups with the same core philosophy, including fellowship and the honest and frank exploration of all aspects of addiction and recovery. Now there are men’s groups, women’s groups, LGBTQ groups, NA (narcotics anonymous), CA (cocaine anonymous) and any others who form fellowships based on their mutual needs. Shared experience forms the foundation for understanding and growth. According to Alcoholic Anonymous stats, in Canada there are 5,078 registered groups with 86,237 Members, world wide there are 2,103,184. AA is represented in more than 180 countries! You don’t have to live in a big city like Toronto, Kingston or Ottawa to find a diversity of groups to join. Whether you live in Hamilton, Newmarket, Markham, Durham Region, Halton Hills, Oakville, Guelph or London, there are dozens of groups to check out. There really is a group for everyone and if you can’t find a perfect one for you, you can start your own!

See also: The Story, The program, Addiction Recovery in Ontario or Contact Us