Bill Wilson was desperate to get sober. A chronic alcoholic without an answer or solution to his ever prevailing drinking problem, Bill found himself in a sanitarium once again. This time, doctors assured him, could be the last before real damage in his brain would start to occur. A bit before then, Bill was visited by an old drinking buddy who had found relief from drinking through religion. Still drinking, therefore cognitively impaired, and unable to comprehend such a thing, despite his friends efforts to have a conversation, Bill could not participate. However, while in that hospital bed, understanding finally dawned on Bill, bringing him a spiritual experience so powerful it inspired his lifetime recovery.
As Bill returned to work, home, and a social life, he found challenges in adapting to life again. In one such instance, Bill was on a business trip that brought him to Akron, Ohio. Facing the same struggles millions of recovering alcoholics face every day, Bill was unsure of what to do with himself while at his hotel. He was uncomfortable, restless and discontent. Bill knew the consequences of drinking again, for he had finally learned that no matter his good intentions, things go terribly awry after just that single, first drink. Yet, Bill found himself sitting at the bar for social purposes, though the cravings continued to grow. What Bill needed was someone to talk to, someone who understood what he was experiencing.
Bill was connected to a doctor that night, who had been suffering chronic alcoholism. Invited over, Bill met Doctor Bob who had been unable to find the answer for life-long sobriety. Finding commonalities, the two talked, and talked, and talked, and talked. By the end, both were so surprised at the comfort brought to each of them by the other’s presence and comprehension of what experiencing alcoholism feels like, they realized that surely dozens if not more alcoholics were out there unknowing that they were in need of the same thing.
Shortly thereafter, Alcoholics Anonymous was formed, on the basis that all it takes is two alcoholics having a talk about their experience, strength, and hope, to help one another stay sober. The urgency of being acknowledged and understood is a basic instinct. Humans need others to know when they need help and their lives need saving. Alcoholism is no different from this. Based on simple conversations of support and encouragement, AA is one of the most widely recognized methods of recovery today.
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