In New York City, two recovering alcoholics, one a New York broker and the other an Ohio physician, found Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), a 12-step rehabilitation program that eventually helps countless people cope with alcoholism.
Based on psychological techniques that have long been used in suppressing dangerous personality traits, members of the strictly anonymous organization control their addictions through guided group discussion and confession, reliance on a “higher power,” and a gradual return to sobriety. The organization functions through local groups that have no formal rules besides anonymity, no officers, and no dues. Anyone with a drinking problem qualifies for membership. Today, there are more than 80,000 local groups in the United States, with an estimated membership of almost two million people. Other addiction support groups patterned on A.A. include Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous.