Did the Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous Ever Fall off the Wagon?

After 37 years of sobriety, Bill Wilson, a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was dying of pneumonia. His last wish was for three shots of whiskey. According to a 2004 Washington Post article, Wilson's biographer Susan Cheever found out about this wish and its subsequent denial from medical records kept by Wilson's nurses. So, whether he liked it or not, Wilson maintained his sobriety from the time he took his last drink in 1934 until his death in 1971.

Seven months before his death, Wilson delivered an address to the Alcoholics Anonymous 35th Anniversary International Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. He concluded his speech with the words, "God bless you and Alcoholics Anonymous forever." He was instrumental in the formation of the General Service Conference -- the worldwide board of trustees of AA -- so that all AA groups could be accountable to one body. Alcoholics Anonymous and subsequent 12-Step groups have followed this model ever since.

More about Alcoholics Anonymous:

  • The only requirement for membership in any Alcoholics Anonymous group is the desire to stop drinking.
  • AA literature is distributed in over 250 languages.
  • AA groups meet on every continent except Antarctica, in countries as far-flung as Vanuatu, Indonesia and Nepal.
More Info: Cato Institute

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