Why Has A.A. Worked for so Many People?


Dating back to 1935 in Akron, Ohio, Bill Wilson, a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob Smith, an Akron surgeon, founded Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). Both had been a part of the Oxford Group, a mostly nonalcoholic fellowship that emphasized faith-based values in daily life. Dr. Bob Smith was not able to achieve sobriety and recover through the help of the Oxford Group alone, and him and Bill Wilson began holding meetings at Akron’s City Hospital to work with people who struggled with alcoholism. The A.A. website states that it had taken 4 years to produce 100 individuals who became sober in a wave of three founding groups.

There are an estimated 2 million A.A. members worldwide; many have achieved sobriety through the program, but studies are divided in the exact success rate. There are a variety of reasons why A.A. has worked for so many people. Let’s explore these reasons.

  • A.A. educates individuals and their families about addiction. Meetings are offered for both those with an addiction and for the families and friends to learn more about addiction, the causes, the effects on the brain, triggers, relapses, and more.
  • A.A. provides structure to help people change their habits towards addictive behavior. There are 12 steps comprised of A.A., and members are expected to spend their time working on those steps. This structure gives many people a goal to work towards, which can help break some of those unhealthy habits that led them towards addiction.
  • A.A. engages people through social support and leadership. A 2011 study confirmed that support is crucial in recovery, and A.A. provides members with a sponsor whom they can contact 24/7. Members may also find support through peers in their meetings, as they work together towards sobriety.
  • A.A. builds hope through a faith-based approach. For recovery to be successful, people must believe they can do it. A.A. guides people to believe in themselves and their journey to recovery through social support, education, steps, and more.
  • A.A. establishes a belief system for those who did not have one before or need reinforcement. Religious beliefs help guide many peoples’ values, which are exhibited through daily actions. A.A. teaches people that God is in control, and that they must reach out to Him daily for guidance.
  • A.A. holds individuals accountable for their actions. Each meeting provides an opportunity for members to talk about their experiences and what they’ve learned – missing a meeting usually constitutes a phone call from your sponsor who is concerned about you.


Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery treatment center. If you’re ready for treatment and are interested in participating in Alcoholics Anonymous, call us today at 888-743-0490 for a consultation.