June 10, 1935... The Last Drink

06/10/2015 10:59 am ET | Updated Jun 10, 2016

Eighty years ago today, an alcoholic surgeon named Dr. Bob Smith finds himself badly hungover after a recent spree. His wife, Anne, and a relatively new acquaintance, Bill Wilson, are by his side helping to sober him up so that he can operate on a patient in just a few hours.

Bill and Bob had spent time together the previous few weeks discussing what Bill believed to be a way to recover from alcoholism.

Bill's ideas about recovery included a personal inventory of one's defects of character, restitution to those harmed and perhaps most important, one alcoholic had to speak with another alcoholic to pass on the message of hope and healing in order for it to work. This was critical, one could not heal without healing another.

Bill, a lifelong alcoholic himself, had been without a drink or a craving for a few months, an absolute miracle by all accounts. And, before this last spree, Bob had been sober for the three weeks since Bill had come to live with him and his wife.

To steady his writhing nerves and his hands, Bill gives Dr. Bob a bottle of beer as he heads in to the hospital to perform his duties. Bill and Anne wait anxiously by the phone in the hopes that Dr. Bob was able to perform the operation and that somehow he would avoid tying one on regardless of the outcome.

They heard nothing for hours, much longer than the operation had required. Many horrendous scenarios went through their minds. Where could he be?

Finally, when the phone rang, it was Dr. Bob. The operation had been a success. Then, afterward, he proceeded to seek out and find all his creditors and others he had harmed through his drinking. He would confess to each of them the reality and truth of his situation as he now understood it. Furthermore, in each case he commenced a practical plan of restitution.

In the book, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, it states: "1935, June 10: Dr. Bob has his last drink. Alcoholics Anonymous founded." The rest is history.

Today, I am celebrating Dr. Bob's last drink and the millions of people who have recovered from addiction since that pivotal moment.

The 12 steps are amazing and they work. I remember that the foundation of my recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism was made possible by the 12 steps and countless people in the many 12-step fellowships who lovingly passed on to me what has been lovingly passed on to them.

Please join me in taking a moment today to remember the auspicious and unlikely beginnings of recovery in the modern world.

With Love and Gratitude,

Tommy Rosen

Tommy Rosen has 24 years of continuous recovery and is the founder of the Recovery 2.0 Online Conference, which starts in just 48 hours. Register for free and pass along to a friend in need and let's continue to uplift each other out of the darkness of addiction.


Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.