The Documented(!) 93% Success Rate in Cleveland, Ohio
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The first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, Ohio, was held on May 11, 1939, one month and a day after the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”) was published on April 10, 1939. Writing to a member trying to get A.A. started in a new city, Bill Wilson said:
I explain this at some length because I want you to be successful with yourself and the people with whom you work. We used to pussyfoot on this spiritual business a great deal more out here [in New York City] and the result was bad, for our record falls quite a lot short of the performance of Akron and Cleveland, where there are now about 350 alcoholics, many of them sober 2 or 3 years, with less than 20% ever having had any relapse.”
An even greater, 93% success rate was reported in Cleveland A.A., whose first group was founded in May 1939, shortly after the Big Book was published in April of that year. Clarence Snyder (Dr. Bob's sponsee and founder of A.A. in Cleveland) is quoted as saying in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers:
Clarence said . . . "I think A.A. was more effective in those days. Records in Cleveland show that 93 percent of those who came to us never had a drink again. When I discovered that people had slips in A.A., it really shook me up."
Mitchell K., Clarence Snyder's biographer, reported as to the 93% success rate in Cleveland:
Two years after the publication of the book [i.e., of Alcoholics Anonymous (the "Big Book") in April 1939], Clarence made a survey of all of the members in Cleveland. He concluded that, by keeping most of the "old program," including the Four Absolutes and the Bible, ninety-three percent of those surveyed had maintained uninterrupted sobriety.
Three of Clarence Snyder sponsees wrote: "Of the first 260 people who came into A.A. in Cleveland, ninety-three percent never drank again!" These Cleveland groups grew from one to thirty in a year.