Alcoholics Anonymous

an organization of alcoholics whose purpose is to stay sober and help others recover from the disease of alcoholism. Abbr.: AA, A.A.

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      voluntary fellowship of alcoholic persons who seek to get sober and remain sober through self-help and the help of other recovered alcoholics. Although general conventions meet periodically and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., is headquartered in New York City, all AA groups are essentially local and autonomous. To counteract self-indulgence and promote the group's welfare, members identify themselves only by first name and surname initial. Much of the program has a social and spiritual, but nonsectarian, basis.

      AA began in May 1935 in the meeting of two alcoholics attempting to overcome their drinking problems: a New York stockbroker, “Bill W.” (William Griffith Wilson [1895–1971]), and a surgeon from Akron, Ohio, “Dr. Bob S.” (Robert Holbrook Smith [1879–1950]). Drawing upon their own experiences, they set out to help fellow alcoholics and first recorded their program in Alcoholics Anonymous (1939; 3rd ed., 1976). By the late 20th century, Alcoholics Anonymous had some 2,000,000 members forming about 90,000 groups in 122 countries and territories (most of them, however, in the United States and Canada).

Additional Reading
Nan Robertson, Getting Better: Inside Alcoholics Anonymous (1988), provides a general survey and history of the organization.

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Universalium. 2010.

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