Bill W. (Bill Wilson - so much for anonymity) was an interesting
man and became a co-founder of the world renowned Alcoholics Anonymous
group. Bill had an interesting life but largely was plagued by
drinking problems which caused him to fail more than achieve in
his early years.
Born in 1895 he fought in the Spanish American War as a national
guards man, was thrown out of med school more than once, travelled
the country with his new bride as a stock speculator and ultimately
lost much of his success to alcoholism.
Bill W actually spent some time in a medical facility for alcoholics
four times under the care of Dr. William Silkworth who believed
that alcoholics were not driven by a lack of moral aptitude but
that instead it was a combination of afflictions that caused the
Dr. Silkworth was one of the first doctors to recognize alcoholics
as potentially being afflicted by a disease.
Bill W. and alcoholism had quite a few battles over the years.
During his last stay in the hospital, Bill reported that he cried
out to God and asked for help. He reported seeing a bright flash
of light and a warm sensation of peace and serenity came over
his body and he never took a drink again.
Dr. Silkworth was baffled by the turnaround. Bill was determined
to keep from drinking but almost had a relapse while travelling
to Ohio on a failed business trip. Instead he decided to reach
out to another alcoholic and tell him of his spiritual experience.
He had some experience with the Oxford Group which was a religious
group of Christian evangelical men that were committed to helping
people get sober.
He used the group's directory to locate Dr. Bob Smith. Instead
of taking the drink that he desired he stayed on the phone and
spoke to Dr. Smith about his experience. This "talk therapy"
helped him to get rid of the urge to drink but more so helped
Dr. Smith to find his own sobriety. Helping other alcoholics became
Bill W.'s life's work.
The Early Days
Wilson and Smith joined forces and began telling their stories
to other alcoholics and in less than a year 100 former alcoholics
formed the "a nameless squad of drunks". Shortly thereafter
a handbook was published with Bill W. and Dr. Bob being the main
authors. The book was called Alcoholics Anonymous, shortly thereafter
the movement adopted the name and alcoholics anonymous was born.
First Step to Twelve Steps
The book Alcoholics Anonymous contained twelve suggestions to
foster spiritual growth and was given to members free of charge.
Bill W. likely never knew the impact that he would have not only
on alcoholics but on other addicts as well. The Twelve Steps are
a global mantra for many people that are trying to cope with addiction.
Bill W. passed away in 1971 completely sober since his moment
of clarity in that hospital in 1934, just three years shy of 40
years of sobriety.
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