The hardiness of AA

aa3Bill White and Ernie Kurtz  examine the factors contributing to AA’s resilience in the face of steady attacks

Attacking Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and 12-step oriented addiction treatment has become a specialized industry with its own genre of literature, celebrity authors and speakers, single-focus websites, and promoted alternatives.  Collectively, these critics suggest that A.A. is an anachronism whose effectiveness has been exaggerated and whose time in the sun has passed.  A.A.’s institutional response to these  criticisms has been a consistent pattern of private self-reflection (e.g., Bill Wilson’s “Our Critics can be Our Benefactors”) and public silence (e.g., no opinion on outside controversial issues, personal anonymity at level of press, and public relations based on attraction rather than promotion–as dictated by A.A.’s Traditions).

The concept of organizational resilience suggests not just an institution’s longevity, but the capacity to survive in the face of significant threats to its character and existence.  Such threats faced by A.A., including the intensity and endurance of polemical assaults on A.A., raise the question of how A.A. survived these challenges to become such a dominant cultural force.

Bill and Ernie identify 7 factors. Among them is scientific validity. Read them here.

The Big Book Turns 75

aa3PBS has a nice write up on the 75th anniversary of the publishing of  the AA’s basic text. the “big book”:

April 10, 1939, marks the publication date of “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism.” One of the best-selling books of all time (it has sold more than 30 million copies), the volume is better known to millions of recovering alcoholics and addicts as “the Big Book.” Its influence on the world’s health and the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions is immeasurable. In 2011, Time magazine placed the Big Book on its 100 most influential books written in English since 1923 (not coincidentally the year the magazine was founded). In 2012, the Library of Congress designated it as one of the88 books that shaped America.

The book’s copyright application, filed April 19, 1939, lists William G. (“Bill”) Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, as the sole author. In reality, the book was very much a group effort. Dozens of recovering alcoholics, many who attended the earliest AA meetings and who had an average sobriety time of 1 to 1.5 years, helped Bill Wilson with the writing of the book in 1938. Their express purpose was to spread the life-saving premises of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Read the rest here.