An auxiliary group for the wives of Alcoholics Anonymous members informally began in the kitchen of Bill and Lois Wilson’s AA-purchased home Stepping Stones. While the mostly male “congregation of drunks” met in the living room over coffee and cigarettes, Louis and the other wives commiserated in the kitchen. This coffee clutch would become Al-Anon.
Al-Anon was officially founded in 1951 by Lois W. and Anne B. The Wikipedia page for Al-Anon/Alateen says this was “16 years after the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous on June 10, 1935.” Of course we know from prior installments iin this series that AA was not founded on that date. Instead that is the date when Bill W. recruited Dr. Bob into the Oxford Group, a six step religious cult of constant confession and occultic practices founded by Frank Buchman. Truth telling is not a twelve step strong suit.
The Twelve Steps of Al-Anon have but one word different from those of AA. In Step 12 on recruiting new members, it changed the audience steppers should share this gospel with from “alcoholics” to “others”. That is the only difference Bill felt necessary to distinguish a program for blackout drinking abusive male alcoholics to perfectly address the needs of their ill-used sober wives. To Buchmanite Bill, everyone was guilty of sin and needed his “religiomania” to be saved.
Al-Anon was the first child of Alcoholics Anonymous, and grandchild of the Oxford Group. A cult religion first based in feting socialites, magnates, and Nazis was morphed into a “cure” for alcoholism, and then a way of life for wives who’d be better off with a restraining order than this quackery. (Speaking from entirely personal experience! My own life lessons learned in Al-Anon will be in upcoming posts.)
Today there are Twelve Steps groups for every possible vice, relationship to vice, or trauma. Cocaine Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Pills Anonymous pretty well cover substance abuse. Amusingly enough Bill W.’s lifelong vice of cigarettes which he “frankly wasn’t ready to give up” is the focus of Nicotine Anonymous and Smokers Anonymous.
Other compulsive behaviors and symptoms get their own specialty cults in the form of Clutterers Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and Online Gamers Anonymous. Food is considered an addiction members are powerless over in Food Addicts Anonymous, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous. Sex is the villain in Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.
Emotions and mental illness are the “sins” of note for members of the following cults: Co-Dependents Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, Neurotics Anonymous, Survivors of Incest Anonymous, and Sexual Recovery Anonymous. The seemingly conflicting issues of Underearners Anonymous and Workaholics Anonymous are both supposedly cured with the exact same cult religion.
But wait, there’s more! For family members and friends of steppers the twelve steps offer Adult Children of Alcoholics, Co-Anon, Co-Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Children of Sex Addicts Anonymous, Families Anonymous, Gam-Anon/Gamateen, NarAnon, and of course, Al-Anon and Alateen. Twelve Steps true believers think their religion is the cure for everyone’s ailment, from victimizing another to surviving abuse. This is dangerous nonsense and it’s infecting healthcare.