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June 9, 1989

Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered From Alcoholism

JAMA. 1989;261(22):3315-3316. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420220129046

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original publication of Alcoholics Anonymous, the basic text for that mutual self-help organization devoted to helping alcoholics recover. The first edition was greeted with skepticism by the medical community1,2 based on the optimistic and spiritual writing style and the medical community's poor track record for alcoholism treatment.

The ensuing 50 years have witnessed the development of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) into the largest treatment program for alcoholics in the world. Health care providers now routinely turn to AA for help, referring alcoholics for the round-the-clock, round-the-calendar support and outreach that has helped them recover for brief and extended periods. Alcoholics Anonymous has proved itself to be a major feature of the diverse alcoholism treatment network that has emerged following the 1971 Hughes Act. We have incorporated it into our treatment planning, yet most of us (including specialists in alcoholism and addiction) have