Anonymous is alcoholic a religious matter

Today Wilson is the USA as a role model and savior, his written life confession is the AA Bible. The "Big Book", known as the "Blue Book" in Germany, has sold millions of copies since it was first published in 1939 and has been translated into more than sixty languages ​​- it can now be read in Chinese, Hebrew and Farsi, writes the FAZ.

The idea behind the AA is simple: The compulsion to drink disappears when you talk to other affected people. The anonymity makes things easier for many people. What is now part of everyday life in various Internet forums was not widespread back then. Successes are celebrated together at the meetings: to this day, the AA participants receive coins in different colors as an award if they have been dry for 24 hours, for one or several months. The twelve steps on the way out of alcoholism, which Wilson describes in his book, are closely based on the Christian faith. For the AA founder, it wasn't just about staying dry, but about making amends, about spirituality.

"We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore our sanity to us," says the Blue Book, for example. Or: "We were completely ready to have God remove all these character defects." On the side of the AA, however, it is explicitly stated that you meet people of "every religion" at the meetings. (Read more about the twelve steps of AA here.)

Numerous imitators

Many doctors, but also some people who want to abstain, find it difficult to find access to these spiritual and quasi-religious elements of the self-help organization. And yet the AA are quite socially acceptable today. Many advice centers and even the federally financed German headquarters for addiction issues refer to the AA. This is mainly due to their success.

"Even if some of these self-help groups have an almost pseudo-religious self-image, they are a great help for most of them. We therefore ensure in our clinic that contact is established between the patient and the self-help groups during therapy," says Karl Mann , Medical Director of the Clinic for Dependent Behavior and Addiction Medicine at the Central Institute for Mental Health in Mannheim.

Perhaps this is why Wilson's principles have long been influencing people who want to free themselves from completely different addictions: Anonymous smokers, anonymous gamblers and anonymous drug addicts also swear by the twelve steps 80 years after Alcoholics Anonymous was founded.

(With material from the agencies)