Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) started in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, USA as a result of the meeting between a New York stockbroker and an Akron surgeon who were both hopeless alcoholics.

They realized that alcoholism was a disease that could be treated by a system of applying spiritual values to daily living.

Both men began working with themselves and with other alcoholics.

In four years, there were three groups and 100 sober alcoholics.


In 1939, based on their experiences (both the failures and the successes), the fellowship published its basic textbook, Alcoholics Anonymous, describing the AA philosophy and methods, and establishing the Twelve Steps. This book has been in continuous publication since then. Although it has been revised and updated, the Twelve Steps have remained the core, touching the lives of a countless number of people around the world.

Bill & Bob again  Bill W, & Dr Bob, cofounders of AA

Shortly after the founding of AA, the families and friends of alcoholics banded together to form AL-ANON, an organization that teaches the Twelve Steps to individuals who are most affected by the alcoholics in their lives.

Since then, other groups have adopted the AA philosophy and successfully applied it to many problems.

There are, for example, Twelve Step groups addressing

  • drug abuse (such as Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous),
  • support for substance abusers’ family and friends (such as AL-ANON, ALATEEN, NARANON, Co-dependents Anonymous),
  • other addictive problems (such as Debtors Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Workaholics Anonymous, Eating Addictions Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous),
  • relationship issues (such as Incest Survivors Anonymous, Relationships Anonymous, and Parents Anonymous), as well as
  • mental health issues (such as Obsessive-Compulsive Anonymous, and Emotions Anonymous).


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  4. Congratulations on the brevity and clarity of your summary. The real history of the Twelve Steps is much more complex. For example, there were some 16 different wellsprings that constituted sources for the ideas, thus the Salvation Army, YMCA, Christian Endeavor, Bible, Oxford Group, Rev. Sam Shoemaker, New Thought writers, Devotionals such as The Runner’s Bible, Christian literature such as The Greatest Thing in the World, and the ideas and theories of Professor William James, Dr. Carl G. Jung, Dr. William D. Silkworth, and the lay therapist Richard Peabody. There also were variations before the Twelve Steps were written. The Akron Christian A.A. Fellowship was founded in 1935 by Bob and Bill and had a very simple program involving five required ideas: (1) Abstinence. (2) Reliance on God. (3)Obedience to God’s will by walking in love and eliminating sinful conduct. (4) Growing in fellowship through Bible study, prayer, guidance, and reading. (5) Working with other alcoholics. The summary can be found in A.A.’s own DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.
    God Bless, Dick B.


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