Lets Ask Bill W.
Question & Answer # 18
Wouldn’t too rapid growth be bad, both for the new alcoholics and for Alcoholics Anonymous itself?
Some of us used to think so, but several experiences of quick expansion have largely dissipated that fear. We had a striking example at Cleveland, Ohio. In the fall of 1939 Cleveland had, perhaps, 30 members. Most of them had become Alcoholics Anonymous by traveling to the nearby city of Akron where our first group had taken root in the summer of 1935. At this juncture the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a striking and forceful series of articles about us. Placed on the editorial page, these pieces told the people of Cleveland that Alcoholics Anonymous worked; that it cost nothing; that it stood ready to help any alcoholic in town who really wanted to get well. Cleveland quickly became Alcoholics Anonymous conscious. Hundreds of inquiries by phone and mail descended upon the Plain Dealer and the expectant but nervous members of Alcoholics Anonymous. The rush was so great that new members sober themselves but a week or two, had to be used to instruct the still newer arrivals. Several private hospitals threw open their doors to cope with the emergency and were so pleased with the result that they have cooperated with us ever since. To the great surprise of everyone, this rapid growth, hectic though it was, did prove very successful. Within 90 days the original group of 30 had expanded to 300; in six months we had about 500; and within two years we had mushroomed to 1200 members distributed among a score of groups in the Cleveland area. Although we have no precise figures, it is probably fair to say that 3 out of 4 who came during that period, and who have since remained with the groups, have recovered from their alcoholism. (Quart. 3. Stud. Alc., Vol.6(2), September 1945)