Bill W. –
Devising a plan that has helped millions of people, Bill Wilson started a group called Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) by coming together with Dr. Bob Smith and developing a twelve-step strategy to ending alcoholism. With little success at first, the group set out rules that would help govern their organization. A similar organization called the Washingtonians had had similar goals, but did not have the governing rules that would keep the focus off of politics and on the actual members attempting to better their lives.
Bill Wilson’s group would from the start follow a doctrine published in the form of a book that he and Dr. Smith had written. This 400-page manual contains inspiration and foresight into the steps needed to overcome alcoholism in order to be considered fully recovered. Two of those steps are the member’s admittance of the problem and the member’s right to anonymity.
Suffering from bouts of depression, especially after losing his fortune after several successful years playing the stock market, Wilson began drinking. His drinking got out of control and he was losing control of his life. Upon visiting a friend who had been given a vision from God to stop drinking, Bill left and suffered an even worse bout with alcohol that sent him to the hospital. During his time there, he had his own spiritual vision where he claims he lost his will to drink alcohol.
Then, while on a business trip to Ohio, Wilson felt the urge to drink when a business deal fell through. It was at that moment when he felt tempted to drink in order to escape that he called a clergyman on the phone. While this did help, Wilson kept calling numbers at random, hoping to contact another alcoholic. He dialed surgeon Dr. Smith’s number whose last drinking day in June of 1935 is considered the official birthdate of Alcoholic’s Anonymous. After an article published by The Saturday Evening Post, A.A.’s membership grew exponentially. The group’s fame spread to other countries and used Bill Wilson’s informal, yet practical approach to solving one of the world’s worst, yet most curable diseases. Despite outside organizations wanting to commend Wilson for his outstanding social work, he always rejected any claim to fame, holding true to his own beliefs and doctrines.