In Akron, Ohio, Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith, two recovering alcoholics, 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 disease through guided group discussion and confession. The organization functions through local groups that have no formal rules besides anonymity, no officers, and no dues. Anyone who wishes to stop 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.