Dr. William D. Silkworth played an integral part in the formation of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. He treated hundreds of alcoholics in his ward at a nationally prominent hospital specializing in the treatment of alcoholism. The doctor became convinced that the body of the alcoholic was as sickened as the mind of a chronic alcoholic. The doctor became convinced that a phenomenon of craving overcame the alcoholic causing them to drink again. Unless this craving could be eliminated the alcoholic was doomed to drink again.
The doctor believed that the only cure for this craving which was triggered by the consumption of alcohol was complete and total abstinence from alcohol. The question here is how we bring about this type of abstinence which would allow the alcoholic to recover. The doctor had a theory that the men and women who had recovered were working what was then a 6 Step program. This program came from the Oxford Group, a Christian fellowship group. The program called for total abstinence. Men and women who had recovered would come to the hospital and share their stories with the current patients. This message of hope and of a future free from alcohol was quite appealing to a lot of patients.
The men and women who came to share their stories were all former patients of Dr. Silkworth’s. They had spent time in his ward and had a recovery from the lash of alcoholism. The program they presented called on the patients to take the 6 Steps and come to believe in a power greater than themselves who would solve their problem. After these things had been accomplished the men and women were able to go to the meetings of the fellowship. It was also required that they share their story with new people, just as others had shared their story with them.
They gladly shared their stories with the men and women who were new. Many a prayer was said in Dr. Silkworth’s ward for the recovery of the patients. In particular one man approached the doctor and engaged him in conversation. The doctor felt strangely that he knew this man. Here in front of him was a fine gentleman thanking him for his treatment. It had been about a year since this man was a patient of Dr. Silkworth’s. The doctor finally realized who this was and was profusely overcome with gratitude for this man’s recovery. Since then, there have been many more recoveries and examples of what the program could do for a person doomed to an alcoholic death.