"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Defining "Alcoholics Anonymous"
Following is the definition of A.A. appearing in the Fellowship’s basic literature and cited frequently at meetings of A.A. groups:
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues of fees for A.A. membership; they are self-supporting through their own contributions. A.A is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, of institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Their primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Alcoholics Anonymous can also be defined as an informal society of more than 2,000,000 recovered alcoholics in the United States, Canada, and other countries. These men and women meet in local groups, which range in size from a handful in some localities to many hundreds in larger communities.
Because A.A. has never attempted to keep formal membership lists, it is extremely difficult to obtain completely accurate figures on total membership at any given time. Some local groups are not listed with the US/Canada General Service Office. Others do not provide membership data, thus are not recorded on the G.S.O. computer records. The membership figures listed below are based on reports to the General Service Office as of January 1, 1996, plus an average allowance for groups that have not reported their membership.
There is no practical way of counting members who are not affiliated with a local group.
Estimated A.A. Membership and Group Information
Groups in US……………….50,671
Members in US…………1,153,795
Groups in Canada……………5,259
Members in Canada………..97,397
Groups in Correctional Facilities
InternationalistsAproximately 145 persons in naval science or the merchant marines on sea duty describe themselves as "A.A. Internationalists." Staff members of the US/Canada General service Office correspond with those members and make it possible for them to correspond with each other. Internationalists have been responsible for starting and encouraging local A.A. groups in many foreign ports.
Loners Some 33 men and women living in isolated areas throughout the world, (or in areas where it has not been possible to form a local group), are listed at the G.S.O. of the US/Canada as Lone Members. Many achieved sobriety solely through A.A literature. They correspond with G.S.O. and with their counterparts in other sections of the world. In a number of cases, notably U.S. military installations overseas, Loners have been responsible for establishing local groups.
Historical Data: The Birth of A.A. and it’s Growth in U.S./Canada
A.A. had it’s beginnings in 1935 at Akron, Ohio, as the outcome of a meeting between Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Both had been hopeless alcoholics.
Prior to that time, Bill and Dr. Bob had each been in contact with the Oxford Group, a mostly nonalcoholic fellowship that emphasized universal spiritual values in daily living. In that period, the Oxford Groups in America were headed by the noted Episcopal clergyman, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker. Under this spiritual influence, and with the help of an old-time friend, Ebby T., Bill had gotten sober and had then maintained his recovery by working with other alcoholics, though none of these actually recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Bob’s Oxford Group membership at Akron helped enough to achieve sobriety.
When Dr. Bob and Bill finally met, the effect on the doctor was immediate. This time, he found himself face to face with a fellow sufferer who had made good. Bill emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions, and body. This all-important fact he had learned from Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital in New York, where Bill had often been a patient. Through a physician, Dr. Bob had not known alcoholism to be a disease. Responding to Bill’s convincing ideas, he soon got sober, never to drink again. The founding spark of A.A. had been struck.
Both men immediately set to work with alcoholics at Akron’s City Hospital, where one patient quickly achieved complete sobriety. Though the name Alcoholics Anonymous had not yet been coined, these three men actually made up the nucleus of the first A.A. group.
In the fall of 1935, a second group of alcoholics slowly took shape in New
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