2001 -2017


A.A. takes root in China

In August 2001, two G.S.O. New York staff members and Dr. George Vaillant (nonalcoholic trustee) travel to China to meet with medical practitioners and attend meetings of China's three A.A. groups in existence at the time — two in Beijing and one in Changchun. By invitation, Dr. Vaillant addresses a gathering of some 50 physicians on the subject of alcoholism.

First woman chairs General Service Board

In 2001, a woman is elected to chair the General Service Board for the first time: Elaine McDowell, Ph.D. (right), who had served as a Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee for nine years. As chairperson, Dr. McDowell brings more than 28 years of experience in the prevention and treatment fields as well as abiding faith in A.A.'s basic principles.

A.A. at Ground Zero

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York, exhausted A.A. members among the firefighters, police, and clean-up crews realize the need for A.A. meetings near Ground Zero. At the same time, a Red Cross official reports to G.S.O. New York that many requests for A.A. meetings have been received. The Red Cross then assigns to A.A. a room in a respite center just southwest of the site, its door bearing a circle and triangle. To accommodate everyone, a second room just north is provided. A.A. meetings are organized by Southeast New York Area 49 and New York Intergroup, and the rooms become places where A.A.s can not only meet but also rest, talk, and meditate. Members crafted the iron plaque shown right and presented it to G.S.O. New York and the Intergroup of A.A. as a memento.

The Big Book's Fourth Edition

In November 2001, a new edition of the Big Book — the culmination of four years of development and 25-plus committee meetings — rolls off the presses. While the first 164 pages remain unchanged, the new edition includes the stories of 41 sober alcoholics (24 new stories and 17 “keepers” from the third edition) reaching a wider cross-section of membership by reflecting the breadth of A.A. experiences, ages, beliefs, and ethnicities. G.S.O. New York sends a complimentary copy of the new fourth edition to groups in the U.S. and Canada.


A meeting in Poland

A.A.s from 13 countries travel to Warsaw, Poland in April 2002 for an Eastern European Service Meeting (EESM). Joining delegates from Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine are guests from Germany and Finland. The meeting is meant to serve as a bridge to World Service Meetings for countries that do not yet participate in them. Since the early 1980s, A.A. Germany had sponsored groups in former East Germany and in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, while Finland provided much support for Russia. In many countries, membership will continue to surge — particularly in Poland and Russia, which in 2004 will have 1,700 and 300 groups respectively. The card to the right is a reproduction of a piece of artwork created by an A.A. member in Warsaw.


Experience, Strength and Hope published

In April 2003, A.A. publishes Experience, Strength and Hope, a collection of the personal stories published in the first, second, and third edition of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous. Now members can read many of the personal stories from A.A.'s early members that had to be dropped to make room for new stories to reflect A.A.'s changing membership over the years. It is a fascinating glimpse into A.A.'s past.

Progress in Sub-Saharan Africa

In June 2003, the first Sub-Saharan Africa Service Meeting is held at the Willow Park Conference Centre (right) near Johannesburg, South Africa. Present are two delegates each from Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, along with representatives from the General Service Offices of Great Britain and U.S./Canada. This zonal meeting is part of the Into Africa initiative, launched by A.A. South Africa in 2000 to improve cooperation with professionals and overcome the problem of A.A. literature distribution in a region with more than 250 languages. A delegate later reports that “Saturday night's family style dinner was filled with laughter and sharing as we expressed our joy in a long day of intense work.”

Success in Latin America

Country-to-country sponsorship, prolific publishing of A.A. literature by Central and South American General Service Offices, and the biannual REDELA ("Meeting of the Americas") help to carry the Fellowship's message to virtually every country in the Americas. As of 2004, Mexico has some 13,280 groups, Brazil 4,680. Among Central and South American countries with 200 or more groups are Argentina (850), Venezuela (280) Uruguay (248), and Cuba (200); those with 100-plus groups include Chile (147) and Peru (140). In 2003, the REDELA is held in Maracaibo, Venezuela (see poster at right), the thirteenth such meeting since 1979.


The A.A. Grapevine celebrates 60 years

In June 2004 the monthly journal of A.A., The A.A. Grapevine, celebrates six decades of continuous publication. Founded by volunteers as an 8-page newsletter for A.A. members in New York City, the Grapevine is now a 64-page international "meeting in print" for A.A. members, with a circulation of more than 110,000.

Growth in Mongolia

The first national convention of A.A. in Mongolia takes place in July 2004. It is the result of six years of work. It began when a nonalcoholic physician, Dr. Erdenebager, became interested in A.A. and urged meetings outside of those in treatment facilities in Ulaan Baator. Then, in 1999, two newly sober A.A.s and a physician traveled to Moscow to find ways to make A.A. work in Mongolia. When G.S.O. New York received a request from members for literature in the native language, A.A. World Services aided in the publication of the Big Book in Mongolian (2002). The 25 groups meeting in Mongolia in 2003, by then with the sponsorship of A.A. Japan, jump to 41 in a year. The mountainside structure member is a Buddhist Temple whose monks, friendly to A.A.s efforts, were visited by a G.S.O. staff member.

A new digital archive

Sixty years of Grapevine content becomes available online when the A.A. Grapevine Digital Archive is launched on July 1, 2004. Subscribers are able to access more than 12,000 stories, thousands of published letters, A.A. history in the making — and, yes, countless cartoons and jokes. By selecting Digital Archive on the home page of www.aagrapevine.org, subscribers are able to search for topics by magazine department, theme, date, or keyword.

Stepping Stones made State Historic Site

Acting on a recommendation from the New York State Board of Historic Preservation, the governor signs a declaration in 2004 making Stepping Stones, the Bedford Hills house Bill and Lois called home beginning in 1941, a New York State Historic Site.



A.A.'s 70th birthday in Toronto

Over 44,000 A.A. members congregate in Toronto for the 2005 International Convention to celebrate the 70 years that have brought A.A. from a bond between two sober alcoholics to a worldwide Fellowship of more than 2 million members. The theme is "I am Responsible," reprising the theme of the 1965 International Convention, also held in Toronto, where A.A.'s popular "Responsibility Declaration" was first devised.

Twenty-Five Millionth Big Book

The twenty-five millionth copy of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, is presented to the warden of San Quentin prison, at the International Convention in Toronto. The gift of the book is A.A.'s way of expressing gratitude to that institution's long history of supporting A.A. as a resource for alcoholic inmates. The first A.A. meeting in San Quentin was held in 1941.


La Viña celebrates its 10th anniversary

The magazine La Viña, A.A.'s "meeting in print" for Spanish-speaking alcoholics, was first published in 1996. As La Viña celebrates its tenth anniversary in June 2006, the initial circulation of 6,000 has grown to nearly 10,000.

AA Grapevine available in digital audio format

The long-running monthly magazine of A.A., the AA Grapevine, is made available in an audio format with a service called AudioGrapevine in June 2006. Subscribers can download and listen to much of the monthly Grapevine content, including the personal stories of A.A. members sharing their stories.

Celebrating 60 years

South Africa observes 60 years of A.A. held in Johannesburg in November. The event is marked with a mini rally with over 300 people in attendance. A banner at the front of the main stage boldly spells out the theme of the event “From Darkness into Light – AA in SA 1946 -2006.” Among the items on display is a 1947 Big Book owned by Solomon M., who was among the first to help start A.A. in South Africa.


First Zonal Meeting of Central and West Africa

The first Central and Western Africa Zonal Meeting (RACO), sponsored by A.A. France, meets in November. The purpose of the meeting is to carry the message to the still-suffering alcoholic in a range of areas with populations speaking various languages. The first RACO is attended by four French-speaking countries: Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and Chad. At the conclusion of this first meeting, the delegates vote to continue RACO every two years with a representation of two delegates per country.


Spanish Big Book published

A new, third edition of the Spanish Big Book – Alcohólicos Anonimios – is published by A.A. World Services. This third edition includes 32 new recovery stories, three stories translated from the first edition English-language Big Book, and 12 stories carried over from the previous Spanish edition.


Co-founders honored

Bill and Dr. Bob are inducted into The Extra Mile Volunteer Pathway founded by the Points of Light Institute. This organization, located in Washington, D.C., honors individuals who pioneered volunteer movements and who serve as positive role models.

A.A.’s Big Book Hits another Milestone

The 70th publication anniversary of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, is marked in April 2009. Now in its fourth edition, it is expected that the 30 millionth copy will be published sometime that year. Available in 58 languages, including American Sign Language and Braille, multiple prints and audio formats, A.A.’s basic text has carried the message of hope and recovery around the world.

A milestone anniversary for Oregon’s State Prison group

Thirty-five men and women of Alcoholics Anonymous gather outside Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), Oregon’s only maximum security prison, to celebrate the 65th anniversary meeting of the Mill Creek Group of Alcoholics Anonymous. The first meeting of the Mill Creek Group at OSP was held May 30, 1944.


“A Vision For You”

A.A. members and guests from around the world celebrate A.A.’s 75th year in San Antonio, Texas, with the theme “A Vision for You.” Marathon meetings begin at midnight on Thursday, July 1, and run around the clock until Sunday morning, when the closing meeting takes place in the Alamodome.

A Milestone Presentation

The 30 millionth copy of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, is presented to the American Medical Association, which in 1956 formally declared alcoholism an illness. The book is accepted by Rebecca Patchin, M.D., immediate past president of the AMA.


An Anniversary Celebration

The A.A. French Audio Internet Group – Vivre Sans Alcool (Living Sober) – celebrates its fifth anniversary online in February 2011. The group has more than 70 French-speaking A.A. members from over a dozen countries, including Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Brazil, India, Australia and the United States.

Thailand’s First Round-up

Under the theme “How It Works,” the first annual Thai Round Up is held in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2011. The majority of attendees are Thai A.A. members, and the workshops and meetings are conducted in Thai, with some English translations for English-speaking travelers and members who also attended. English-speaking meetings have been held in Thailand since 1971.

First Eastern Arctic A.A. Convention

Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is selected as the location to host the first Eastern Arctic A.A. Convention. The two-day convention begins on June 24th with a ceremonial lighting of the Qulliq (an Inuit lamp) and welcoming remarks from the mayor of Iqaluit. Featured speakers from both A.A. and Al-Anon address the crowd, sharing in Inuktitut, the native language of the Inuits.


Eastern Canada’s First Service Assembly

The historic first meeting of the Canadian Eastern Regional Alcoholics Anonymous Service Assembly (CERAASA) meets in southwest Quebec (Area 87), February, 2013. The Service Assembly is sponsored by the ten areas of the Eastern Canada Region, covering New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Quebec.

Half-century of A.A. in Barbados

“Barbados Comes of Age” is the theme selected for the 50th Anniversary celebration of A.A. Barbados, in March 2012. The convention is attended by more than 166 participants.

India Experiences an Explosion of Interest

In July 2012, a popular Indian television personality hosts an investigative series, with one episode titled “Alcohol Abuse – Think Before You Drink” on the topic of alcoholism. The show features interviews with recovering alcoholics, including one of India’s Class A (nonalcoholic) trustees. The result is an overwhelming flood of inquiries. In the days following the show, A.A. centers across India answer more than 90,000 calls and over 700 letters. The chairman of India’s A.A. Public Information committee notes, “It seems that at last A.A. in India has found its own Jack Alexander.”

22nd World Service Meeting

The 22nd World Service Meeting (WSM) meets October 2012 in Rye Brook, New York. Sixty-one delegates attend from 32 countries, as well as A.A. entities, such as Flemish-speaking Belgium, Northern and Southern Zones of Central America, and German-speaking and French-speaking Europe. The theme is “Rotation: The Heartbeat of A.A.”

The First Spanish PSA

In 2011, the General Service Conference approves the development of a Spanish-language Public Service Announcement (PSA), the first of its kind. Titled “Tengo Esperanza,” the PSA begins to air on Spanish-language TV in November 2012.


French Big Book Celebrates 50 Years

March 2013 marks 50 years since the Big Book was first published in French.


Happy Anniversary, Quebec!

Seventy years ago, Alcoholics Anonymous found its way to Quebec when Dave B. found sobriety in 1944. The occasion is observed at the bilingual convention of Southwest Quebec (Area 87).

Big Book Turns 75

April 2014 marks the 75th publication of Alcoholics Anonymous. In celebration, a replica copy of the First Edition, first printing of A.A.’s Big Book is made available by A.A.W.S.

23rd World Service Meeting

Delegates representing A.A. the world over, from Japan to South Africa, from Australia to Finland, gather October 2014, in Warsaw, Poland for the 23rd World Service Meeting. Much of the discussion is centered on the theme “The Three Legacies: Vital for All Generations.”


Japan celebrates the 40th Anniversary

In February 2015, Japan celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the first Japanese-speaking meeting. The special weekend-long occasion includes a Flag march and a variety of meetings.

A.A.’s 80th Birthday celebrated in Atlanta, Georgia, July 2 - 5

Over 57,000 A.A. members and guests from 94 countries around the world celebrated A.A.’s 80th birthday in Atlanta, Georgia, with the theme “80 Years – Happy, Joyous and Free!” Nearly 250 scheduled meetings were held in various languages. At the Sunday morning meeting, the 35 millionth copy of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, was presented to the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, the religious order of Sister Ignatia, who worked closely with Dr. Bob to sober up thousands of alcoholics at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio. 

Twi Big Book

After nine years of painstaking and diligent work by three local women translators, 1,200 copies of Alcoholics Anonymous, were printed locally in Twi, the language of Ghana. The book, with hand-sewn bindings, is now being used at A.A. meetings throughout the region. 

A.A.’s 80th Birthday celebrated in Atlanta, Georgia, July 2 - 5

Over 57,000 A.A. members and guests from 94 countries around the world celebrated A.A.’s 80th birthday in Atlanta, Georgia, with the theme “80 Years – Happy, Joyous and Free!” Nearly 250 scheduled meetings were held in various languages. At the Sunday morning meeting, the 35 millionth copy of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, was presented to the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, the religious order of Sister Ignatia, who worked closely with Dr. Bob to sober up thousands of alcoholics at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio. 


A.A. in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The first Amharic-speaking group in the African nation of Ethiopia was formed in January 2016. Addis Group evolved out of a hospital program, the only one in the country addressing alcoholism.  One group member was able to translate to Amharic the pamphlet “Frequently Asked Questions About A.A.,” which they use as a subject  for group discussions and for giving to newcomers.

Release of “A New Freedom”

Filmed inside correctional facilities in the U.S. and Canada, this 30 - minute video features a diverse group of A.A. members who are currently incarcerated or have been incarcerated and are staying sober one day at a time. They share what it was like when they drank, what happened after participating in A.A. in prison, and what it’s like now as a result of working the Twelve Steps and continuing to participate in the A.A. Fellowship. In July it became available for live streaming on aa.org, and in September the DVD was released to rave reviews from inmates, corrections professionals, and A.A. members throughout the U.S. and Canada.

200th Regional Forum

The 2016 Western Canada Regional Forum was held in Kamloops, British Columbia, August 26-28. Registration for the Forum was 280 including 168 members attending their first Forum.  The Western Canada Regional Forum marked the 200th Regional Forum since their inception in 1975.  A celebratory cake was enjoyed by attendees during a break on Saturday afternoon.

24th World Service Meeting

With the theme “One World, One A.A., One Language of the Heart,” 61 delegates from over 40 areas around the world gathered in Rye Brook, New York for the 24th World Service Meeting.  Each delegate was a representative of the A.A. service structure from a country or zone, and came to share experience on the national level about carrying the A.A message, helping to establish the Fellowship in new lands, strengthening the service structure, and providing literature translated into many languages.


Cuban A.A. Continues to Grow

The 18th General Service Conference of A.A. in Cuba is held in Santa Clara, Cuba, March 23-25. Representatives from the United States/Canada service structure learn how A.A. in Cuba continues to grow despite lacking basic necessities, such as a phone line. 

Sub-Saharan Africa Service Meeting in Johannesburg

The 8th Sub-Saharan Africa Service Meeting is held in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 9-11. In attendance are 24 delegates from 12 nations: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Delegates share the struggles and successes of A.A. in their respective countries. 

Asia-Oceana Service Meeting in Mongolia

The 12th Asia-Oceania Service Meeting is held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 6-9, 2017. Participating are 17 representatives from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and the countries of the Middle East Region of Alcoholics Anonymous (M.E.R.C.A.A.). Country highlights include the following:

• Australia notes that it continues to visit the Solomon Islands to spread the message and hold public information sessions.

• India, celebrating 60 years of A.A., reports publishing and distributing A.A. literature in 15 languages.

• Iran reports that its government has given groups permission to use the name Alcoholics Anonymous and that A.A. is now recognized as an official entity.

• Mongolia shares about the formation of 21 new A.A. groups since the previous Asia-Oceania Service Meeting, bringing the country’s total to 101 groups.

• Russia notes that it is celebrating 30 years of A.A.

• Thailand shares about the recent printing of the new Thai Big Book.

An Emerging Fellowship in Uzbekistan

In September 2017, the International Desk at the General Service Office receives an email from a member in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, regarding the growing formation of groups there. The last contact the G.S.O. had had with Uzbekistan was in 2014. According to the Uzbek member, other groups had tried to form before but had always closed. The member reports contacting various churches and mosques in the city in order to carry the message, as well as posting information on the website for A.A. in Kazakhstan, after which they receive numerous inquiries.

Archives Workshop in Canada

The 2017 National A.A. Archives Workshop is held September 28-October 1 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. This is the first time that the workshop — held every year since 1996 — is taking place in Canada. The National A.A. Archives Workshop was established in order to create a level of support and community for local A.A. archivists, as well as to offer training in archival techniques. The first Archives Workshop, held in Akron, Ohio, was intended to be a one-time event, but it was so successful that it became an annual event. 

A.A. Convention in Zhengzhou

The 2017 A.A. Zhengzhou Convention takes place over three days in October in the city of Zhengzhou, in China’s central Henan Province. The convention is held in a large conference room on the fifth floor of Zhengzhou No. 9 People’s Hospital. Of the 132 people who attend, it is estimated that perhaps 30 people are Al-Anons and another 12 are expatriate or visiting American A.A. members. Over two days, the Zhengzhou Convention unfolds along the lines of a typical A.A. convention, with an opening ceremony, Step and meditation meetings, speakers, panels, and a sobriety countdown.

20th REDELA in Costa Rica

The 20th Meeting of the Americas (REDELA) is held in San Jose, Costa Rica, October 1-5, 2017. Along with 24 delegates from 19 countries, the trustees-at-large of the General Service Board attend as delegates representing the United States/Canada service structure.

First-Ever North American A.A. Corrections Conference

From November 10-12, the first-ever National A.A. Corrections Conference for North America arrives at “the Gateway of the West” — St. Louis, Missouri — with 384 attendees ready to make sure that when an alcoholic behind the walls reaches out for help, the hand of A.A. is there. The purpose of the weekend is to have “A.A. members involved in corrections work behind the walls come together to share experience, exchange information, and hear from corrections professionals, former inmates, and trusted servants throughout the U.S. and Canada.”