A History of Alcoholics Anonymous: From Founding to Present
History of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous

History of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous

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Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) introduced a new ray of hope for those struggling with alcoholism. This 12-step program, created in 1935, stated that support groups and therapy could be a way to treat alcoholism. However, AA was designed to help alcoholics only, not including other addictions. This division is why another 12-step program was created to help people with all kinds of addiction – known as Narcotics Anonymous (NA). 


This system is also based on the same model of AA but is customized to fit the needs of other addictions better. AA and NA help people’s spiritual growth while helping them understand how addiction affects their lives and relationships. AA and NA have been helping millions of people recover from addiction for years. 


Let’s explore the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to pay tribute to the founders who paved the way to change the lives of millions of people with addiction. Let’s begin first with the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

History Of Alcoholics Anonymous 

Although they may seem similar, Al-Anon is not the same as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), yet both ascribe to the same 12 Steps and Traditions established by Al-Anon in 1938.

So, what is Al-Anon? Al-Anon is a mutual support group for people who have been affected by the alcoholism of others. It brings together people with similar experiences and gives them a place to talk about it to make positive changes in their unique situations.

Al-Anon is a self-supporting organization that is entirely contributed to by its members’ efforts. Our founders believe that by working together, families and friends of alcoholics may bring hope to one another and assist in addressing the myriad challenges they may confront.

History Of Alcoholics Anonymous

Someone’s feet with chalk arrows leading to health or addiction

AA’s history began in 1935 in Akron, Ohio. So, how did alcoholics anonymous start? AA was founded by Bill Wilson (Bill W), a Wall Street banker struggling with alcoholism, which caused issues for his career and marriage.

Eventually, he got treatment in a hospital where he met with William Silkworth, a doctor who proposed that alcoholism is not a moral failure but a kind of disease. This thought was the foundation that sparked the idea of AA later.

In 1935, Bill Wilson met with Bob Smith, who was a local surgeon and an alcoholic as well. Together, they started arranging meetings and developing their plan, which included the early principles of AA. They concluded that one alcoholic needs the support of another alcoholic to get sober. At this point, AA history starts to have dramatic changes. This “support of other addicts” principle is also prevalent in today’s AA support groups.

The birthday of the founder of AA, Bill W, is on 26th November. This blog emphasizes the importance of AA and tributes to the hardships of the AA founders. The blog also encourages and supports the significance of Narcotics Anonymous. Let’s dive more into the history of Narcotics Anonymous.

History Of Narcotics Anonymous

A group of people at Narcotics Anonymous with one woman standing up and talking about her experiences to the others

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) was founded in 1953 in Los Angeles, California, by James Patrick Kinnon (Jimmy K). AA had been in the scenario for about 20 years when NA was just starting. It was an internationally recognized organization helping its members get sober from alcoholism. Jimmy Kinnon realized how much potential AA’s 12-step program has to treat not only alcoholism but drug addiction as well. 

NA’s goal was to help its members get sober from substance addiction. Individuals with an alcohol or drug addiction can be a member of NA without any membership cost. The birthday of the founder of NA, Jimmy Kinnon, is on 5th April. 

All the founders of AA and NA are no longer in this world. However, we still wish to remember Bill Wilson, Bill Bob Smith, and Jimmy Kinnon, who were dedicated to helping millions transform their lives – switching from the dark to the enlightened path. Organizations like AA and NA still offer substance users and alcoholics the support, hope, and guidance they need.

The Legacy of AA and NA

Today, AA has over 2 million members. Even recent studies show that an AA program helps people manage sobriety 2X better than an unsupported “cold-turkey” effort. On the other hand, NA has also grown into a large organization that offers more than 70,000 weekly meetings in 144 countries. 

Members of AA and NA can stay anonymous, and the organizations strictly protect their privacy. Other research shows that NA and AA approaches can help keep away from drugs and alcohol as long as they attend the meeting regularly. 

To Sum Up

Both AA and NA were introduced years ago. Yet, these programs are still helping millions of people seeking help for addiction and recovery through support groups. The Discovery House is an alcohol rehabilitation center in Reseda, CA – committed to helping individuals with alcohol and drug addiction. At The Discovery House, the inpatient care offers AA or NA group participation.

Are you or a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol addiction? Don’t hesitate to seek professional support. Contact The Discovery House to receive personalized addiction recovery treatment.