Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism:
“The Rest of the Story”

A Four-Video Project Proposal by Dick B. and Ken B.
© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Key points:

1. A.A. claimed an overall 75% success rate for its early days [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., “Foreword to Second Edition,” xx]. And the third A.A. group in the world founded in Cleveland on May 11, 1939, claimed a documented 93% success rate during its first three years (May 1939 to June 1942) [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 261]. The Cleveland A.A. group used the Big Book and its 12 Steps, and kept “most of the ‘old program,’ including the Four Absolutes and the Bible, . . .” [Mitchell K., How It Worked, 108.]
2. This video series will focus on:
a. The “old-school” way of carrying A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s message of a cure for alcoholism to those who still suffer.
b. “Training the trainers” about the original Akron A.A. seven-point program which Bill W. and Dr. Bob began developing over the summer of 1935 [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131], and how its principles and practices can be applied in today’s recovery arena to enhance substantially the effectiveness of Christian recovery efforts.
3. Dick B. has sponsored more than 100 men in their sobriety, has been researching the history of Alcoholics Anonymous for more than 23 years, and has authored 46 titles and more than 1,500 articles on A.A. history and the Christian Recovery Movement.

Well-known historian of A.A. Dick B. and his son Ken have begun producing a ground-breaking new video series which will include:

• A series of four videos, each about one hour in length and comprised of a number of short segments five-to-fifteen minutes in length;
• An instructor’s guide;
• A student guide; and
• The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide by Dick B. and Ken B.

A Big Book sponsor’s guide and a 12-Step guide will also be recommended.

The series will be titled:

“Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story.”

The goal of this video series is to reach those who are endeavoring today to cure alcoholism--long thought to be “medically-incurable” by the doctors of Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s day (1934 to 1939), and still thought to be “medically-incurable” by many doctors more than 70 years later.

The facts of history have demonstrated to us and countless others that Bill W. and Dr. Bob received from God in the mid-1930’s a way to cure hardcore alcoholics, and it worked.

Those facts also show that Bill W. allowed that cure to be diluted by the time it was first presented publicly in the “basic text” of the Alcoholics Anonymous Society, the book Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as “the Big Book”), first published in April 1939.

Dick B. and Ken B. are currently developing a professional-quality video series and accompanying instructional materials which will tell “the rest of the story.” That story will include the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A.’s astonishing successes with “medically-incurable” alcoholics who thoroughly followed Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s suggested path to recovery.

In plain and simple terms, Dr. Bob described A.A.’s first group in the world, known as “Akron Number One,” as “a Christian fellowship.” [See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 118.]

The long-ignored and unreported part of the story of early A.A.’s history is about precisely how Christianity became a part of the cure of alcoholism (and of the often-related abuse of “high-powered sedatives” and other drugs) developed by Bill W. and Dr. Bob.

The elements of the “Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story” video series are these:

1. The Christian upbringings of A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Vermont;
2. The similarities between the principles and practices seen in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, and those found in the early A.A. program in Akron (and, to a significant extent, in the early A.A. program in Cleveland—which began on May 11, 1939);
3. The strong revival in pre-A.A. days of “First Century Christianity” in America from the mid-1850’s to the mid-1930’s, as illustrated by the Christian predecessors who were successful in helping alcoholics, addicts, and derelicts before A.A. began, and who influenced early A.A.’s principles and practices (especially in Akron), including:
a. The Young Men’s Christian Association;
b. The Congregational Churches of Vermont (and, more broadly, of New England);
c. The Gospel Rescue Missions;
d. Great Christian evangelists such as Dwight L. Moody and F. B. Meyer;
e. The Salvation Army;
f. The program of the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, in which Dr. Bob was involved as a youth (and in which his parents, Judge Walter P. Smith and Susan H. Smith, were also involved); and
g. “A First Century Christian Fellowship”--formed in 1922 by Dr. Frank N.D. Buchman, a Lutheran minister (also known as “the Oxford Group” beginning in September 1928)—of which Bill W. and Dr. Bob were members when they met.
4. How the principles and practices of the Gospels and the Book of Acts, of A.A.’s Christian predecessors, and of early Akron A.A. can be applied today to carry more effectively the message to those who are still suffering.

All of these historical factors can play a major part today in the application of the principles and practices of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, and of the Apostles (and others) in the Book of Acts (i.e., “First Century Christianity”), in today’s recovery scene based on currently-available, in print, A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature. Practices such as prayer, Bible study, “Quiet Time,” reading of Christian literature, witnessing, conversion to God through His Son Jesus Christ, daily meetings, and major emphasis on service to God and others about us.

This video series will show how applying these principles and practices can arrest the decline in successes, the decline in numbers, the growth of secularism, and other problems prevalent in today’s 12-Step programs.

The greatest verification of the efficacy of “old-school” Akron A.A. can be found in: (a) the belief in God, (b) the long biblical training; and (c) the compassionate service to others by the first three AAs. Each man hit a desperate bottom. Each turned to God. Each stated that he had been cured or healed by the power of God. Each believed the answer to his problems was in the Bible. Each served God and others alcoholics for the rest of his life. And each never used liquor (or abused high-powered sedatives) again.

AA Number One, Bill W., for example, is quoted in the current edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, as follows:

“. . . [T]he Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191]

AA Number Two, Dr. Bob, believed he had been cured by prayer, stated that he and Bill W. had found a cure for alcoholism, and ended his personal story in the Big Book with the declaration:

Your Heavenly Father will never let you down! [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181]

And AA Number Three, attorney Bill D. of Akron—following his almost-instantaneous cure after months of hospitalization, and having been strapped to his hospital bed on and off—said:

That sentence [which Bill W. had spoken to Bill D.’s wife, Henrietta], “The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it,” has been a sort of a golden text for the A.A. program and for me. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191]

And these earliest A.A. successes occurred before there was a Big Book, before there were any 12 Steps or 12 Traditions, before there were any recitals of “drunkalogs,” and before there were any “additions” by Alcoholics Anonymous.

As Albert Scott (chairman of the trustees for Riverside Church) stated at a meeting of representatives of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., with Bill W., Dr. Bob, Bill W.’s brother-in-law, Leonard Strong, Dr. William D. Silkworth, and a few of the other New York and Akron AAs around the end of 1937:

“Why, this is first-century Christianity!” . . . “What can we do to help?” [‘Pass It On,’ 184]

Perhaps you or someone you know can provide talent, skills, ideas, and/or financial assistance for the completion of this effort. If you would like to help with this new project, or would like to know more, please contact Dick B. by email at or Ken B. on his cell phone at 1-808-276-4945.

Dick B.’s main Web site:
Dick B., Executive Director
International Christian Recovery Coalition
“Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.”
Information about A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob

Gloria Deo

Author's Bio: 

Dick B. is an author, A.A. historian, Bible student, Retired attorney, CDAAC, and active recovered AA member with over 27 years of continuous sobriety. Published 46 titles and over 1500 article on the history of alcoholism