Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

AA Turns 80 and Keeps Saving Lives

80This year marks the 80th anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous.

It was in 1935 – two years after Prohibition ended – that Wall Street stockbroker Bill Wilson and Ohio doctor Bob Smith formed a mutual aid fellowship with a singular and simple purpose: to help others who suffered as they did from alcoholism.

From this modest beginning, a powerful force was created. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other to solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism.

As far as social organizations go, AA is an unusual one. Anybody can join. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees. There are no grades, tests or attendance rolls.

AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. It doesn’t take positions on political issues, and it doesn’t endorse political candidates.

Twelve Steps to Recovery

What it does is save lives. The foundation is the Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

AA in North Carolina

Every day, AA meetings are held all across the state. Click here to find one near you.

Lawyers in North Carolina have two other places to turn to for help with alcohol and substance abuse:

  • North Carolina Lawyers Assistance Program (NCLAP). The roots of NCLAP go back to 1979, when a group of lawyer-volunteers who were themselves recovering alcoholics banded together to help other lawyers similarly suffering. The group was initially named Positive Action for Lawyers with Substance Abuse Issues (PALS). In 1999, a related program – FRIENDS – was created to assist lawyers dealing with mental health issues not related to substance abuse. Today both programs have been merged into NCLAP. In addition to a director and professional staff, NCLAP has a statewide network of dedicated, trained lawyers and judges.
  • North Carolina Bar Association BarCARES. BarCARES is a confidential, short-term intervention program provided cost-free to members of participating judicial district bars, voluntary bar associations and law schools. BarCARES is designed to offer no-cost assistance in dealing with problems that might be causing distress and can be used to help with personal issues (crisis intervention, depression/anxiety, substance use and financial concerns); family issues (marriage/relationships, children/adolescents and parenting/family conflict); work issues (professional stressors, case-related stress and conflict resolution); and student coaching on stress/time management.

An interesting aside: Bill Wilson attended law school, but failed to graduate because he was too drunk to pick up his diploma.

How appropriate that the group he founded is still going strong – and helping North Carolina lawyers and their families – all these many years later.


  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Alcoholics Anonymous in North Carolina
  • North Carolina Lawyer Assistance Program
  • North Carolina Bar Association BarCARES


Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney who has practiced North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. Contact him at

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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