Today In History... with The Retrospectors

The Birth of Alcoholics Anonymous

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Episode notes

When Bill Wilson met Dr Robert Smith on 12th May, 1935, they could not have known that the 12-step plan they’d devised for treating addiction would spawn the world’s largest support group. 


Despite their initially low success rate, they persisted to aid recovering alcoholics and their names went down in history - to the extent that A.A. members still sometimes identify each other by asking, ‘...are you a friend of Bob?’.


In this episode, Olly, Rebecca and Arion review the current trajectory of ‘mindful drinking’ amongst millennials, consider why the number ‘12’ still features prominently in listicles, and reveal the ingredients of the cocktail that got Wilson hooked on booze in the first place...


Further reading:

• Bill Wilson tells his story in 1965:

• Take a virtual tour of Wilson’s home, ‘Stepping Stones’, in Katonah, New York:

• What is AA? Alcoholics Anonymous (USA)’s current website:


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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2021.

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