Bill W. – Dr. Bob – Friends of Bill
By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: November 12, 2012

Alcohol rehabilitation centers were limited in number 60 years ago and not much was known about alcoholism at the time. Therefore, many alcoholics were believed to be plagued by mental illness instead of being diagnosed accurately with alcoholism. The formation of Alcoholics Anonymous came directly from its co-founders’ experiences getting sober. Drug and alcohol treatment centers such as Lakeview Health Systems have developed over the years and now offer multiple programs for those looking to get clean and sober. The Alcoholics Anonymous program complements addiction treatment and helps keep alcoholics and addicts sober after they complete drug rehab.

Bill W.

Bill Wilson, a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, has one of the most relatable stories found in The Big Book. Even after completing alcohol rehabilitation, Bill W. continued to struggle with alcohol addiction. It was on the day that his old drinking buddy, Ebby Thacher, visited him at his home that he finally began to think differently. Thacher had had his own struggles with alcoholism and had also been to alcohol rehabs and jails as a result of his drinking. A religious conversion experienced through attendance at an Oxford Group meeting helped him gain sobriety. Thacher told Wilson about this experience, who did not accept the information right away. After the excitement wore off from his visit with Thacher, Wilson became angry and shouted, “I’ll do anything, anything at all! If there be a God, let Him show Himself!” He was finally tired of being sick and tired. Wilson reported having a spiritual response to his cries out to God, which was documented in Pass It On. He described seeing a white light and being overcome with intense emotion. Such an experience is also known as a spiritual awakening. This moment formed the basis for the foundation of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, a spiritual approach to achieving long-lasting sobriety.

Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob Smith was a medical doctor who struggled with alcoholism. He managed to be a functioning alcoholic, holding it together to support his wife and sustain his medical practice. However, his drinking had a negative impact on his health, job and relationships. In 1933, his wife, Anna, attended a lecture by Frank Buchman, the founder of the Oxford Group. She and Dr. Bob continued to attend Oxford Group meetings, hoping that they would help his alcoholism. Dr. Bob later met Bill W. and grew the Alcoholics Anonymous concept from the Oxford Group principles. Dr. Bob is quoted on his website stating that “AA’s fundamental ideas came from the study of the Bible” and that he personally did not write the 12 Steps. Dr. Bob was simply a Christian attempting to spread the love of God to those who felt unloved, unaccepted and rejected in different areas of their lives.

Friends of Bill

“Friends of Bill” has become a term used by Alcoholics Anonymous members to find others who are part of the fellowship. Oftentimes, you see announcements in cruise ships, airports and other public arenas that say Friends of Bill. This lets other alcoholics know where and when a meeting is or if a fellow alcoholic is struggling and needs support in the area. If you have questions about Alcoholics Anonymous or how it pertains to addiction treatment, call our 24/7 confidential helpline today to speak with one of our trained addiction specialists. They can also help you with the admissions process for our Christian drug rehab program.