This week Alcoholics Anonymous holds its annual meeting where they are celebrating their 75th anniversary. More than a million Americans attend one of the 55,000 meeting groups, and countless more have been through the program since Bill Wilson and and Ebby Thatcher began spreading the gospel of surrender in 1935. What still isn't clear though, is why it works, or more accurately, why it works for some and not for others.
Brendan Koerner writes about this for Wired. He points out that cures for substance abuse addiction are a prickly topic to study because addicts a difficult group to track and, frankly, are a group prone to lying. Add to that the anonymity inherent in AA groups and a few other complicating factors to boot, and it means that 75 years after the group began we still don't know exactly how it works. But what we do know is that it seems like this 12 step plan created by an alcoholic stock broker seems to work as well as anything modern medicine as come up with since.
Barbara C. has been sober for 14 years. She says it works for her because of the fellowship with other addicts, "You can't build a house by yourself if you haven't done it before."