Sobriety, Science, and AA's Legacy
Alcoholics Anonymous at 75. We look at its legacy and its 12 steps through the lens of the latest science.

Credit: AP

Alcoholics Anonymous – AA – got its start 75 years ago this summer. 

Every AA member knows the story.  Of how alcoholic Bill Wilson saw God in his detox room, and went on to lay out the twelve steps of the AA path. 

It’s been a godsend for many.  Doesn’t work for all. 

And 75 years on, scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what it is that does work about AA.  “Higher power” is not exactly a scientific term. 

This Hour, On Point: AA at 75, and what science – and alcoholics – understand about the twelve-step way.


Brendan Koernercontributing editor at WIRED magazine. His latest article is “Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works.” He also writes Wired’s “Mr. Know-it-All” column.

Bill N.,twenty-year member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Lee Ann Kaskutas, senior scientist at the Public Health Institute’s Alcohol Research Group.

Scott Tonigan, research professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico.

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