Alcoholics Anonymous has been in existence since the Great
Depression. Prohibition had ended two years prior to its founding in 1935,
and alcohol still carried a strong stigma of immorality. Treatment
options for alcoholics were severe. Co-founder William Griffith Wilson reportedly underwent a "Purge and Puke"
Treatment — In which a patient was given toxic salts or plants to
expel his demon.
those F(n) colleagues of yours over at the hospital very nearly killed
me. There has got to be a better way. We are going to find it and put it
in a Book. Are you with me on this?
AA had expanded to three groups that produced 100 sober members, and
publicity of its success brought it a deluge of new people seeking help. By the end of 1940,
there were 2,000 members, 6,000 by the time Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. By 1950, that number had jumped to 100,000.
Meanwhile, the organization's leaders worked out the program's kinks,
eventually arriving at the Famed 12-Step Method, which would continue to
spread around the world as a way for alcoholics to find hope by
recognizing their helplessness.