He has been referred to as the messenger of the century. An individual who is responsible for saving tens of millions of people’s lives through his tireless efforts and unconditional love, as well as his struggles to spread his message throughout the world so that no one would die as a result of not having the proper knowledge of the nature of the deadly disease of addiction. This individual is no other than William Griffith Wilson. He was bon on November 26, 1895 in Vermont. He passed away on January 24th 1971. He was mostly known as Bill Wilson, and in accordance with the philosophy of anonymity shared in AA, he was always referred to as Bill. He was the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 step program.
Aldous Huxley, the English writer and poet, has refereed to Bill as the biggest social architect of the 20th century. In 1999, Times Magazine named Bill as one of the 100 most influential individuals of the 20th century. Bill was a businessman from Brooklyn, New York. In December of 1934 he became aware of the nature of his addiction and the phenomenon of recovery, and instituted the first AA group on June 10th, 1935 with Dr. Bob Smith, who was a physician who was also suffering from alcoholism. Dr. Smith was from Akron, Ohio, and their dedication to recovery was instrumental in their enjoying and maintaining their recovery.
Bill’s addiction story:
In 1935, Bill, who lived in the Wall Street neighborhood of New York, lost everything he had ever worked for to the disease of alcoholism. Due to his overuse of alcohol he had been hospitalized multiple times. Dr. Silkworth, who had become famous for his innovative treatment of his patients who suffered from alcoholism, explained to Bill during one is his hospital stays that alcoholism is a disease, and that all those who suffer from this disease are not inherently bad individuals with no will power. Dr. Silkworth explained to Bill that alcoholics, due to suffering from the disease of addiction struggle with temptations and cravings and after drinking their first glass of alcohol, are incapable of controlling their drinking. Following this episode, although Bill was enlightened with a better understanding of his addiction, he continued with his abusive drinking and was constantly hospitalized. In reality, the knowledge of the fact that he was suffering from a disease could not help him quit the disease. After a while, consulting with one his alcoholic friends, Ebby Thatcher, Bill realized that Ebby had been successful in quitting his drinking problem. Ebby Thatcher stated that the reason for his success was religion. Ebby suggested to Bill to lean on his God and with his help overcome his addiction. This is the thought process explained in the second step of the 12 step program. Following this exchange, Bill continued his struggles in quitting his alcoholism, until one night, during one of his hospital stays, when he had reached the outmost level of suffering with his disease, he begged his higher power to help him quit his alcoholism. This is the incidence where later on in his book Bill refers to as his spiritual awakening.
The birth of Alcoholics Anonymous
Upon this spiritual awakening, on one of his business trips to Ohio, Bill once again craved to drink alcohol. In order to overcome this craving he decided to talk to others who were suffering with the disease of alcoholism, and he decided to share his experience with them. In this town, he became acquainted with Dr. Bob Smith and shared his experiences with him. After many struggles that ensued between them, finally Dr. Smith was able to recover from his disease through this spiritual awakening. In reality, he was the first person ever to enter the world of recovery with the help of another recovering addict. This incidence occurred on June 10, 1935 and from then on this date has been dedicated to the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous. Furthermore, with the help of Dr. Smith, Bill worked on creating a step by step program to achieve this spiritual awakening, and with the help of a group in the city of Oxford, whose goal was to help those who suffered from the disease of alcoholism, Bill was successful in creating a 12 step program to successfully recover from the disease of addiction.
May he rest in peace, and may the recovery path he created go on perpetually.