William Haning, MD, DFASAM, DFAPA
To provide balance to this week’s excellent technical and policy content, we remark the passing of an anniversary on 10 June. Regarded as Founders’ Day by members of Alcoholics Anonymous, it occurs 82 years after a prosaic event. Prosaic, in that it was a long, seemingly unremarkable kitchen-table discussion over the dubious coffee of depression-era America, between two largely-discredited alcoholics. Not to put too fine a point on it, a lonely and depressed but momentarily abstinent New Yorker, at one time a stockbroker, found himself in Akron, Ohio engaged in an unsuccessful hostile takeover. The takeover was probably doomed by lack of resources, in any case; and it may be argued that Bill Wilson expended almost his last ounce of moral capital in an effort to engage other people in this venture. There was not much that was elegant or noble about his circumstances; he was a sick man, without means, and quite nearly without hope. Through a short series of events, he was connected to a barbiturate-addicted and alcoholic proctologic surgeon, Bob Smith, whose brief efforts at abstinence had occurred in a religious context. In a shared state of desperation, the two discussants discovered momentary relief of both the urge to drink and the sense of isolation that their illness had created around them. They were, in the paraphrased words of the central text of the society they were to found, not alone anymore.
Narcotics Anonymous was to achieve the transition to a 12-step program some 18 years later.
Editor-in-Chief: William Haning, MD, DFAPA, DFASAM
The 12-Step programs are truly God’s gift to those afflicted with the genetic disease of addiction. I believe the “Big Book” is as divinely inspired as the Bible. 82 years of AA, 64 years of NA. How many lives have these programs saved? How many families have they improved? Amazing!