The Alcoholics Anonymous movement was off and running with the publication of their basic text, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous.’ This text has taken on biblical proportions within the movement and is referred to affectionately as the Big Book. The movement spread throughout
In 1938 John D. Rockefeller gave the movement $5,000 and refused to give more money – rather he gave them some good advice. Don’t take money from others for it will corrupt you. In 1939 Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia started working at
AA continued to grow and in 1946 the AA Foundation penned the 12 Traditions. These would be the guidelines for group and organization activity. These traditions clearly demonstrated that the founders of AA had looked closely at the Washingtonians and the Oxford Group – they wrote the traditions to address their current organizational issues, and to protect from the mistakes of their forbearers. The 12 Traditions were approved and adopted at the General Service Conference in 1950. Many of the AA traditions have been adopted by modern American Business as models of a health organization. In 1952 AA published the Twelve by Twelve, a text that elaborated on each of the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions.
By 1953 some of the members of AA had recognized that they also had problems with Narcotic Drugs. They knew others that had drug problems but did not drink. They petitioned AA for the right to use the 12 Steps and AA freely granted permission, with no strings attached – Narcotics Anonymous was formed. These two movements startled the Medical and Mental Health communities. In 1956 the American Medical Association declared Alcoholism a disease.
Other areas of social problems began to look to the 12 step program for solutions. The lack of prejudice for a any particular faith was very appealing for many who had been shunned by their church. In 1958 Gamblers Anonymous was granted free use of the 12 Steps. Today, 2007, there are over 200 different organizations using the 12 step model. AA, NA, GA, Alanon, Overeaters Anon (OA), Cocaine Anon (CA), all the way to Emotions Anonymous – and everything in between. There is even a Paranoids Anonymous – but they will not tell anyone where they meet.
This polygamy has served many people very well – at the expense of AA and NA. The term ‘addiction’ has become diluted, misused to describe any errant behavior. AA and NA have the same parents – externally induced drugs. The other ‘causes’ operating under the banner of 12 step programs are adopted and are genetically different.
Along the way AA expanded around the globe and now has over 100,000 groups with many millions of members. This phenomenon is the result of infusing the organization with historical understandings of preceding movements, and having faith in basic principles of Love, Purity, Honesty, and Unselfishness.
Faith in process can be very powerful.