My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive..

Bill Wilson was the inspiration for and the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Because of the ability of this 12 step program to rescue many alcoholics from certain despair or even death, it is believed by many, that this program was divinely inspired. In fact, in order for the program to succeed, the third step suggests that the alcoholic come to believe in a power greater than himself. And, to make it easier to accept this step, it makes it clear that it can be a God of your understanding.

Bill Wilson was born on November 26, 1895, in East Dorset, Vermont. When he was 10, he was virtually abandoned by his parents and left in the care of his maternal grandparents. His first drink came as a 22 year old soldier, continued as a businessman, and destroyed his health and his career, until 17 years later, with the help of another alcoholic, (Dr. Bob) he took his last drink.

In 1918, he and his young wife toured the country on a motorcyle, and appeared to be a prosperous and promising young couple. But by 1933, Bill Wilson was an unemployable drunk who at times panhandled for cash, and disdained religion. With the help of a friend who had stopped drinking, Wilson tried going to meetings at an evangelical society founded by Frank Buchman. He even tried the state-of-the-art alcoholic treatment of that day, which was called "purge and puke", and is exactly what it sounds like.

He had been sober for 5 months, when he stood in a hotel lobby and had to choose between sobriety and a bar, and chose the former, with an ephipany that convinced him , in order to save himself, he needed to help another alcoholic. Fate connected him with Dr. Robert Smith, soon to be known as Dr. Bob, and the rest is history. Dr. Bob's family persuaded him to give Bill wilson 15 minutes: their meeting lasted four hours. Dr. Bob, like Bill Wilson, had been a hopeless drunk, but a month after their meeting, on June 10, 1935, Dr. Bob had his last drink. And that is the official birthday of A.A., which is based on the premise that only an alcoholic can help another alcoholic.

Wilson opened his house the next day and it became a haven for drunks. He began his meetings with, "My name is Bill Wilson , and I'm an Alcoholic", a tradition that continues on today. To spread the word he began writing down his principles for sobriety, which eventually made their way into book form as simply "Alcoholics Anonymous." It is the program's "Bible." Troubled financial times followed them through foreclosure and homelessness, until March 1941, when The Saturday Evening Post published an article on A.A. That was the turning point; Bill Wilson had reached his audience. He published another book of bylaws, entitled "Twelve Traditions", in which he created an enduring blueprint for the organization which remains basically unchanged to this day.

As A.A. grew, Wilson became its principal symbol. He created a governing structure and turned his power over to them. He traveled throughout the country attending meetings, most of the time anonymously. Bill Wilson died on January 24, 1971, of pneumonia, but obviously his program lives on. Today more than two million members carry on; one alcoholic helping another. It works, I know.