Alcoholics Anonymous celebrates 70 years in SA

2016-10-12 06:00

ALCOHOLICS Anonymous South Africa (AASA), which has helped and guided thousands of South Africans to recovery from alcoholism since the end of World War two, turns 70 this year.

AASA – which operates under the umbrella of the worldwide (USA founded) Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous – came into existence in Johannesburg in 1946, when the first South African recovery group opened its doors in Johannesburg.

The original (unofficial) ‘pioneers’ of AASA were a Johannesburg alcoholic migrant worker and Alexandra resident known only as Solomon, who stumbled across a Readers Digest story on the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery programme, which inspired him to sobriety; and a (non-alcoholic) nursing sister named Maxwell, who nursed alcoholics at the city’s then General Hospital.

First Group

The official launch of AASA is credited to Arthur S, who, on 18 October, 1946, became the first alcoholic to form an AA group in South Africa. Named “The Johannesburg Group”, it met at the then Spes Bona Club in central Johannesburg.

This was followed a year later by the establishment of an AA group in Springs by an alcoholic named Val D – who was also the founder and editor of the AASA quarterly magazine Regmaker, which has remained in circulation to this day.

AASA grew steadily from this launch pad by establishing regions; electing trustees; and creating what is known today as the General Service Office (GSO) – the organisation’s operational arm, which administers its business on a day to day basis.

“Over the years, many thousands of South Africans have chosen the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous as a vehicle for their recovery from alcoholism,” says GSO chairman Joe P.
Successful recovery

“The key to their successful recovery has without doubt been our highly acclaimed Twelve Step Recovery Programme and our Twelve Traditions governance discipline which, together, protect our three very important legacies – Unity, Recovery and Service,” adds Joe.

“Carrying the message to the still suffering alcoholic is our primary purpose, and helping others to maintain their sobriety is core to our existence.

“We are self-supporting through our own contributions, and ever mindful that our role in society is to help people recover from the disease of alcoholism. By attending AA meetings alcoholics learn how to live a life without alcohol thereby healing not only themselves, but families and communities too,” Joe concludes.

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by two Americans in Akron, Ohio on 10 June 1935 and celebrates 81 years of existence in 2016. The Fellowship, which is in the business of recovery (from alcoholism) has spread globally over the years and now spans 170 countries across all continents.

For more information on AASA please visit the website:

Meetings in the KwaDukuza region are as follows:

Shakaskraal Primary School – Mondays at 8pm

Stanger Town Hall - Wednesdays at 8pm

Stanger Hospital - Fridays at 7:30pm -Supplied

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