Addiction and Recovery Timeline

  • Jan 1, 1525


    Swiss chemist Paracelsus introduces the use of laudanum, a combination of alcohol and opium derivatives, to the medical profession. Laudanum quickly becomes popular in Europe as a cure for many illnesses.
  • Jan 1, 1563

    Opium Addiction Described

    Portuguese explorer Garcia da Orta describes opium addiction in India.
  • Jan 1, 1576

    Narcotic Withdrawal Described

    An early description of narcotic withdrawal is featured in a book describing opium consumers among the Turks, Moors, and Persians by German physician-botanist Leonhart Rauwolf.
  • Inebriety Referred to as Disease

    While many will continue to see alcoholism as a moral fault for centuries, French philosopher Condillac is ahead of his time in referring to inebriety as a disease.
  • Occom's Attack on Alcohol

    Mohegan Indian and recovered alcoholic Samson Occom publishes an attack on the effects of alcohol on Native Americans.
  • Rush's "An Enquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors"

    Benjamin Rush, the "father of American psychiatry" and signer of the Declaration of Independence, publishes his pamphlet, "An Enquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors Upon the Human Body, and Their Influence Upon the Happiness of Society," the most influential piece of early American writing on alcohol and alcoholism. Rush's works on alcoholism represent the first ever writing by an American on a disease concept of alcoholism.
  • First American Temperance Society

    The Association of Litchfield for Discouraging the Use of Spirituous Liquors, the first American temperance society, is organized in Litchfield, Connecticut.
  • Opium Possession Outlawed in China

    Opium possession is outlawed and made punishable by strangulation in China.
  • Iroquois Alcohol Total Abstinence Movement

    Handsome Lake, following a near-death experience with alcohol, organizes a successful total abstinence movement among the Iroquois.
  • Morphine Invented

    German chemist Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertuner is the first to isolate an alkaloid from a plant, creating morphine from opium and naming it after Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep and dreams.
  • Total Abstinence Campaign Among Western Native Americans

    Shawnee chief The Prophet launches a total abstinence campaign that, for several years, reduces alcohol problems among western Native American tribes.
  • Rush Proposes Creation of "Sober House"

    Benjamin Rush, noting that hospitals and jails are failing at rehabilitating alcoholics, proposes the creation of "Sober House," a special institution for alcoholic rehabilitation.
  • Delirium Tremens Medically Described

    Delirium tremens, an alcohol withdrawal symptom, is recognized and medically described.
  • "Dipsomania"

    Physician Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland introduces the term "dipsomania" to refer to a patient's behavior of binge drinking punctuated by periods of abstinence. Through the end of the nineteenth century, "dipsomania" and "inebriety" (chronic drunkenness) are used to describe alcohlism.
  • "Confessions of an English Opium Eater"

    Thomas DeQuincey's "Confessions of an English Opium Eater," which is believed to be the first book detailing the addictive nature of opium, is published. It is eventually made into a film in 1962.
  • First National Temperance Organization Founded

    The Society for the Promotion of Temperance, better known as the American Temperance Society, is founded in Boston, This is the first national temperance organization in the United States, following in the footsteps of several such local organizations.
  • Committee on Quack Remedies Instituted

    The Medical Society of the City of New York institutes the Committee on Quack Remedies, due to concern regarding fraudulent medicines, like those claiming to cure drunkenness.
  • Hereditary Nature of Alcoholism Noted

    Scotsman Robert Macnish publishes an expanded version of his essay "The Anatomy of Drunkenness," (pg. 39) in which he notes the hereditary nature of alcoholism. Macnish first presented "The Anatomy of Drunkenness" as a short introductory essay for Glasgow's Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in 1825. The fifth and final edition is published in 1834.
  • Recommendation for the Creation of Inebriate Asylums

    A report from the Connecticut State Medical Society (pg. 132) authored by Dr. Eli Todd calls for the creation of inebriate asylums in Connecticut. However, the world's first inebriate asylum will not open until 1862.
  • Methodist Episcopal Church Calls for Total Abstinence from Alcohol

    The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church calls for total abstinence from alcohol (p. 260), marking the shift from a moderation-based view of temperance to an abstinence-based one.
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    First Opium War

    The First Opium War is fought between China and Great Britain. British victory in 1842 results in China being forced into opium trade with Britain. Opium possession has been illegal in China since 1792.
  • Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society Founded

    Six members of a Baltimore drinking club attend a temperance lecture by Reverend Matthew Hale Smith and become convinced of the virtues of the temperance movement. In response, they found the Washingtonian Total Abstinence Society (pg. 93), a very early form of mutual aid group for recovering alcoholics and arguable ancestor of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Martha Washington Society Organized

    The first Martha Washington Society is organized in New York to provide temperance support groups specifically for women and children. As mutual aid groups, in part for family members affected by inebriety, the Martha Washington Societies can be considered precursors to Al-anon and Alateen.
  • Abraham Lincoln Addresses Washingtonians

    Abraham Lincoln Addresses Washingtonians
    Abraham Lincoln addresses a meeting of the Springfield, Illinois Washingtonian Society. This speech is attended by Howard H. Russell, who grows up to form the Anti-Saloon League in 1895. Honoring Lincoln's speech and temperate lifestyle, Russell names the children's abstinence-pledge-signing unit of the Anti-Saloon League the Lincoln Legion (which is eventually renamed the Lincoln-Lee Legion to attract Southern children).
  • Sons of Temperance Founded

    Fraternal temperance society the Sons of Temperance</a></a> (pg. 10) holds its first meeting in New York City's Teetotaller's Hall. The organization expands the temperance society concept to include fraternal ritual and funerary benefits, like other secret societies of the time.
  • Washingtonian Speakers Tour U.S.

    Washingtonian Speakers Tour U.S.
    Washingtonian orators John Gough and John Hawkins tour the United States, organizing new Washingtonian Societies. The rapid growth of the Washingtonian movement can be attributed, in large part, to the inspirational speeches of these recovering (and sometimes struggling) alcoholics.
  • Term "Alcoholism" Invented

    In his book "Chronic Alcoholism," Swedish physician Magnus Huss introduces the term "alcoholism" (pg. 128) to the medical profession. He divides the definition into two forms: acute alcoholism, which corresponds with the effects of a single event of alcohol abuse, and chronic alcoholism, which has to do with the long-term effects of chronic alcohol abuse and physical dependence on alcohol.
  • Hypodermic Syringe Developed

    Hypodermic Syringe Developed
    The hypodermic syringe is developed. Morphine is one of the first drugs for which the syringe is commonly used.
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    Second Opium War

    The Second Opium War, a continuation of the First Opium War, is fought between China and the allied forces of Britain and France. The primary goal of the confrontation is to force China into allowing Britain to import opium from India into China. As a result, as much as 10% of the Chinese population becomes addicted to opium.
  • First Washingtonian Home Incorporated

    Boston's Washingtonian Home is incorporated by the State of Massachusetts. The Home is run by the Washingtonian Temperance Society of Boston and is the first institution of its kind. It serves as the model for several other Washingtonian Homes for the treatment of inebriates. In 1869, the first Martha Washington Home, based on the Washingtonian model but intended specifically for women inebriates, opens in Chicago.
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    American Civil War

    The use of opium and morphine in the treatment of disease and injury is widespread during the Civil War. The war creates a large population that is vulnerable to opium and morphine dependence.
  • First Inebriate Asylum Opens

    First Inebriate Asylum Opens
    The first patients are admitted to the New York State Inebriate Asylum in Binghamton, New York, under the direction of Drs. J. Edward Turner and Valentine Mott. This is the first ever public hospital committed solely to the treatment of inebriates.
  • The Washingtonian Home for the Cure of Inebriates Opens in Chicago

    The Washingtonian Home for the Cure of Inebriates, the first institution in Illinois established specifically for the treatment of alcoholics, opens in Chicago.
  • Hay-Litchfield Antidote Patented

    The Hay-Litchfield Antidote, a purported home cure for alcoholism, is patented. Similar to "aversion therapy," the Antidote promises to eliminate the appetite for liquor by inciting "disgust and nausea" at the sight of alcohol.
  • American Association for the Study and Cure of Inebriety Founded

    The founding of the American Association for the Study and Cure of Inebriety shows a growing professionalization of the alcoholism treatment field. The AASCI develops the first well-articulated disease concept of alcoholism.
  • Portland Reform Club Established

    Francis Murphy establishes the Portland Reform Club in Portland, Maine. This first of several "Blue Ribbon Reform Clubs" starts a wave of similar temperance reform clubs throughout New England. Many New Englanders are supporters of the Temperance movement, to the point that several New English states have become "dry states," outlawing alcohol after Maine set the example in 1851.
  • First Rescue Mission Founded

    The McAuley Water Street Mission (now the New York City Rescue Mission) is founded by reformed drunkards and religious converts Jerry and Maria McAuley. The Mission starts the rescue mission movement in the U.S., which has continued to serve countless people suffering from alcoholism.
  • Heroin Invented

    English chemist C. R. Alder Wright invents heroin (diacetylmorphine) while attempting to isolate a non-addictive alternative to morphine. The drug receives little attention and is not placed on the pharmaceuticals market until Bayer does so in 1898.
  • Woman's Christian Temperance Union Founded

    Woman's Christian Temperance Union Founded
    The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union is founded at a national conference held in Cleveland, Ohio. The WCTU will become one of the most prominent voices in the temperance crusade and other social and political movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including women’s suffrage.
  • First Edition of "The Quarterly Journal of Inebriety"

    The first edition of "The Quarterly Journal of Inebriety," the journal of the American Association for the Study and Cure of Inebriety, is issued, indicating a growing market for professional and lay literature on addiction.
  • New York Christian Home for Intemperate Men Founded

    The New York Christian Home for Intemperate Men is founded under the auspices of the YMCA. This organization takes the stand that intemperance is a moral issue requiring religious treatment, as opposed to a disease requiring medical treatment.
  • First Keeley Institute Opens

    First Keeley Institute Opens
    Dr. Leslie E. Keeley, a former Civil War doctor, and Frederick B. Hargreaves, a former minister and temperance lecturer, open the first Keeley Institute in Dwight, Illinois, claiming the ability to cure drunkenness with Keeley's Double Chloride of Gold Remedies.
  • Cocaine Used to Treat Fatigue in Soldiers

    German Army physician Theodor Aschenbrandt publishes an article in which he reports success in administering cocaine to Bavarian soldiers to ward off fatigue.
  • Freud Uses Cocaine to Treat Addicts

    Inspired by Bentley (pg. 253) and Palmer's 1878-1880 writings on cocaine's application in addiction treatment, Sigmund Freud starts using cocaine drug replacement therapy to treat alcoholics and morphine addicts. Descriptions of his work are featured in a July 1884 article (abstracted pg. 504) entitled "Uber Coca" ("On Coca").
  • Coca-Cola Invented

    John Stith Pemberton invents Coca-Cola, which uses cocaine as an ingredient until it is replaced by caffeine in 1903.
  • "Opium Antidotes" Expose Published

    Dr. J. B. Mattison publishes an expose on "opium antidotes" in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," in which he finds opium in 19 of 20 advertised opium cures. Similar studies conducted on alcoholism and opium addiction "cures" in 1888 and 1889 also reveal very high occurrences of alcohol and opium present in the medications.
  • Recommendation to Addict Alcoholics to Morphine

    In an article entitled "Advantages of Substituting the Morphia Habit for the Incurably Alcoholic" (pg. 538) in "The Cincinnati Lancet-Clinic," Dr. J. R. Black advocates addicting alcoholics to morphine.
  • Brooklyn Home for Habitues Opens

    J. B. Mattison opens the Brooklyn Home for Habitues (pg. 271), one of the first facilities devoted exclusively to treating addiction to drugs other than alcohol.
  • Massachusetts State Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates Opens

    The Massachusetts State Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates (pg. 48), the first completely state-funded and -operated inebriate institution in the U.S., opens in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
  • Bayer Introduces Heroin

    Bayer Introduces Heroin
    Bayer introduces and begins marketing diacetylmorphine, also known as heroin. Like other morphine derivatives, heroin is legal and readily available, and is marketed as a non-habit forming cure for cough and fever.
  • 300,000 - One Million Addicts in the U.S.

    It is estimated that there are between 300,000 and one million addicts in the United States.
  • Charles B. Towns Hospital Opens

    Charles B. Towns Hospital Opens
    The Charles B. Towns Hospital for Drug and Alcoholic Addictions opens in New York City. It is in this hospital that Bill W., founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, experiences his "hot flash," which ultimately inspires the formation of A.A. in 1935.
  • "The Varieties of Religious Experience"

    "The Varieties of Religious Experience"
    William James's "The Varieties of Religious Experience" is published. This series of speeches will play an important role in the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Caffeine Replaces Cocaine in Coca-Cola

    Caffeine replaces cocaine as the stimulant in Coca-Cola. Cocaine has been an important ingredient in the soft drink since Coca-Cola's invention in 1886.
  • Legally Mandated Addiction Treatment

    Legally Mandated Addiction Treatment
    Pennsylvania's legislature passes an "inebriate law," (pg. 608) which allows the state to impose up to one year of mandatory hospital or asylum inpatient treatment on people "habitually addicted to the use of... any intoxicating liquor or drug." However, at the time the law is passed, Pennsylvania does not have any inebriate asylum facilities to which to commit addicts.
  • Liquor License Required for Medicines Containing Alcohol

    In response to the increasing prevalence of fraudulent addiction cures, the IRS issues a regulation requiring manufacturers of medicines containing alcohol to apply for liquor licenses.
  • Investigation into Massachusetts Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates

    In response to charges from patients, the governor of Massachusetts launches an investigation into the operation of the state's Hospital for Dipsomaniacs and Inebriates. Charges like those alleged against this institution, including medical incompetence, patient neglect and abuse, unsanitary conditions, and administration corruption, were fairly common complaints in early twentieth century mental health institutions.
  • Pure Food and Drug Act

    Pure Food and Drug Act
    The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 is signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt, requiring that the presence of alcohol, opium, and other addictive substances be indicated on the labels of products sold in interstate commerce.
  • Expose on Quack Addiction Cure Medications

    In a series of "Collier's Magazine" exposes on the patent medicine industry published starting in 1905, Samuel Hopkins Adams devotes his September 22, 1906 article, "The Scavengers," (pg. 111) to exposing quackery in purported addiction cures. These articles are widely read and publicized, and in part encourage changes in drug regulation in the United States.
  • Indiana Practices Eugenics Towards Addicts

    The State of Indiana passes a law mandating the sterilization of "confirmed criminals, idiots, rapists and imbeciles," categories which include alcoholics and those addicted to narcotics. This eugenic law is soon followed by similar laws in Connecticut and Iowa.
  • New York City Hospital and Industrial Colony Initiated

    The New York City Hospital and Industrial Colony, a 697-acre inebriate farm in Warwick, New York, is initiated by the New York City Board of Inebriety. The farm houses 200 men with an average length of stay of two years.
  • Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act Passed

    Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act Passed
    The Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act is passed, which uses registration and taxation to restrict the use of opiates and cocaine to legitimate medical purposes.
  • Treasury Department Decision 2200

    In an attempt to stop physician-assisted narcotic maintenance for addicts, Treasury Department Decision 2200 (pg. 472) is issued, requiring physicians' prescriptions for opiates to addicts to specify progressively decreasing doses in order to wean the patients from their addictions.
  • 1.5 Million Habitual Drug Using Americans

    A congressional committee to investigate the use of narcotics finds that there are no less than 1.5 million habitual narcotic users (pg. 341) in the United States. Many of these are men who were drafted into the armed forces in the World War.
  • Webb. v. United States

    The Supreme Court rules, in Webb. v. United States, that a physician's prescription of morphine to an addict for the sake of comfortable maintenance is illegal, as it does not fit into the Harrison Act's physicians' exemption.
  • First New York City Narcotic Maintenance Clinic

    In response to the April 8, 1918 arrest of ten physicians and druggists who had been maintaining addicted patients on narcotics, New York opens the first of a system of statewide narcotic maintenance clinics in New York City.
  • Prohibition

    The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which was ratified on January 16, 1919, goes into effect, prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol.
  • Oxford Group Founded

    Frank Buchman, along with a small group of students from Oxford University, founds a spiritual group committed to improving society through the "moral rearmament" of individuals. The group comes to be known as the Oxford Group, and is eventually referred to more broadly as the Moral Rearmament Movement. In the 1930s, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous start out as members of the Oxford Group, as they search for spiritual renewal as a weapon against their alcoholism.
  • U.S. v. Behrman

    The Supreme Court's ruling in U.S. v. Behrman shuts off all legal access to drugs for those suffering from addiction by making it illegal for physicians to prescribe narcotics to any addict for any reason. This ruling, in effect, takes the ruling in Webb v. United States one step further and redefines the addict's status from that of patient to that of criminal.
  • Jones-Miller Act

    The Narcotic Drug Import and Export Act, also known as the Jones-Miller Act (pg. 400), is passed, imposing harsher penalties on narcotics-based offenses and prohibiting the import of any narcotic products with the exception of raw materials for the production of legal medications.
  • Linder v. U.S.

    The Supreme Court, in Linder v. U.S., reverses its position on U.S. v. Behrman, declaring it legal for physicians to prescribe narcotics in small amounts to addicts for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Warning Against Fraudulent Addiction Cures

    The National Better Business Bureau issues a press release warning consumers against fraudulent addiction cures.
  • Porter Act Passed

    In response to an increasing prison population and an increasing percentage of prisoners convicted of drug-related offenses, the United States Congress passes the Porter Act, allocating funds for the U.S. Public Health Service to construct and operate two narcotic farms in Lexington, Kentucky and Fort Worth, Texas for the detention and rehabilitation of narcotics offenders.
  • Dr. Silkworth Starts Work at Charles B. Towns Hospital

    Dr. Silkworth Starts Work at Charles B. Towns Hospital
    Dr. William Silkworth begins work as the physician-in-charge at Charles B. Towns Hospital. He will treat Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill W. at the hospital and play a significant role in articulating the conception of alcoholism within A.A.
  • Prohibition Repealed

    The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is ratified, repealing Prohibition. The sale and consumption of alcohol are again legal in the United States.
  • APA Defines "Addiction"

    The term "addiction" appears for the first time in the 8th Edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Statistical Manual for the Use of Hospitals for Mental Diseases.
  • Doctor's Observation Inspires Treatment of Addiction with Electroconvulsive Therapy

    Doctor's Observation Inspires Treatment of Addiction with Electroconvulsive Therapy
    Hungarian neuropathologist Ladislas Meduna observes psychological improvements in schizophrenic patients following seizures. This observation eventually inspires the treatment of alcoholics and addicts with convulsive therapy, inducing seizure first with medications and then with electroconvulsive therapy, or "ECT."
  • Bill W. Admitted to the Charles B. Towns Hospital

    Bill W. Admitted to the Charles B. Towns Hospital
    Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson is admitted to the Charles B. Towns Hospital in Manhattan for treatment for alcoholism. While at the Towns Hospital, Bill experiences his "Hot Flash," the religious conversion experience that eventually leads to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Bill W. Meets Dr. Bob

    Bill W. Meets Dr. Bob
    While on a business trip to Akron, Ohio, Bill Wilson experiences the desire to drink and seeks out a local Oxford Group member for help. Bill is introduced to Dr. Robert Smith, aka "Dr. Bob," with whom Bill will found Alcoholics Anonymous one month later.
  • Lexington Narcotics Farm Opens

    The Lexington Narcotics Farm, soon to be renamed the U.S. Public Health Service Narcotics Hospital, the first of two narcotic farms authorized by the Porter Act, opens in Lexington, Kentucky. The first 12-Step group specifically for narcotics addicts, called Addicts Anonymous, will be founded at this institution.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous Founded

    Alcoholics Anonymous Founded
    Alcoholics Anonymous is founded by Bill W. and Dr. Bob, starting a long tradition of 12-Step Recovery in the United States and around the world.
  • Marihuana Tax Act

    Marihuana Tax Act
    The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 goes into effect. The Act imposes taxes on all cannabis transactions, essentially regulating all uses of the plant and outlawing its recreational use.
  • Fort Worth Narcotics Hospital Opens

    Fort Worth Narcotics Hospital Opens
    The second of two narcotic farms authorized by the Porter Act is opened in Fort Worth, Texas.
  • Psychiatric Hospital Enters Relationship with A.A.

    Psychiatric Hospital Enters Relationship with A.A.
    The Rockland State Hospital in Orangeburg, New York becomes the first state psychiatric facility to enter into a complete collaborative relationship with A.A. The program at Rockland hosts A.A. meetings, incorporates A.A. teachings, and makes use of A.A. volunteers.
  • A.A.'s Big Book Published

    A.A.'s Big Book Published
    "Alcoholics Anonymous," aka "The Big Book" is published. "The Big Book" will soon become the major recovery tool for alcoholics and addicts of all stripes.
  • Marty M. Joins A.A.

    Marty M. Joins A.A.
    After getting sober in New York's Bellevue Hospital and Blythewood Sanitarium, Marty M. attends her first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous at Bill Wilson's house in New York City. Marty will become the first woman to achieve enduring sobriety within A.A.
  • Bill W. Attempts Racial Integration in A.A.

    Bill W. Attempts Racial Integration in A.A.
    Bill W. is criticized for bringing two African American alcoholics to a New York A.A. meeting.
  • First Spanish-Speaker Joins A.A.

    First Spanish-Speaker Joins A.A.
    The first Spanish-speaking alcoholic enters A.A., translates the complete A.A. "Big Book" into Spanish, and presents it to Bill W.
  • "Saturday Evening Post" Article Increases A.A. Membership

    "Saturday Evening Post" Article Increases A.A. Membership
    An article by Jack Alexander entitled "Alcoholics Anonymous" appears in the "Saturday Evening Post," in part causing a membership increase from 2000 to 8000 in 1941.
  • First A.A. Prison Group

    First A.A. Prison Group
    The first Alcoholics Anonymous prison group is started in Northern California's San Quentin State Prison.
  • Methadone Developed

    As Germany faces a morphine shortage during the Second World War, its scientists begin searching for a synthetic alternative to the popular pain killer. The result of this research is Dolophine, the synthetic narcotic now best known as methadone. In the 1960s, methadone will be adapted in the U.S. as the detoxification and maintenance drug of choice in the treatment of narcotic addicts.
  • Center of Alcohol Studies Established

    The Center of Alcohol Studies and its Summer School of Alcohol Studies are formally established at Yale. The program will move to Rutgers University in 1962.
  • National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (NCEA) Founded

    Marty Mann founds the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (NCEA), which begins at Yale but eventually moves to the New York Academy of Medicine. The NCEA changes its name to the National Council on Alcoholism (NCA) in 1954 and to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) in 1990.
  • "A.A. Grapevine" Begins Distribution

    "A.A. Grapevine" Begins Distribution
    The "A.A. Grapevine" begins distribution, originally to serve as a "meeting in print" for members in the armed services. The "Grapevine" eventually becomes the primary means of communication between A.A.'s founders and its membership.
  • First African American A.A. Group

    First African American A.A. Group
    The first Alcoholics Anonymous groups specifically for African Americans are started in Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Missouri, and Valdosta, Georgia.
  • Calix Society Founded

    The Calix Society is founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota by a group of Catholic Alcoholics Anonymous members who seek to enhance their practice of A.A.'s Eleventh Step ("We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out") within a Catholic framework.
  • First Addicts Anonymous Meeting

    The first meeting of Addicts Anonymous takes place at the U.S. Public Health Service Narcotics Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.
  • Alcoholics Victorious Founded

    Alcoholics Victorious (AV) is founded by Dr. William Seath of the Chicago Christian Industrial League. AV provides a recovery environment for alcoholics who recognize Jesus Christ as their Higher Power. The goal of AV is to help recovering people "transfer dependence on their addictions to dependence on Christ."
  • Antabuse Arrives in U.S.

    Dr. Ruth Fox brings Antabuse, also called disulfiram, a medication used to treat alcoholism by providing a "pharmacological barrier" between the alcoholic and alcohol, to the United States.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy Used to Treat Opiate Withdrawal

    Thigpen, Thigpen, and Cleckley report the use of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) to "Eliminate the adverse manifestations of withdrawal" in opiate addicts by producing confusion in the patient.
  • LSD Patented

    Swiss chemists Arthur Stoll and Albert Hofmann patent lysergic acid diethyl amide, otherwise known as LSD. LSD is created by isolating the alkaloid ergot, a fungus traditionally used to prevent hemorrhage during childbirth. Its hallucinogenic properties were discovered in 1943 when Hofmann accidentally ingested a small amount of the drug.
  • Pioneer House Opens

    The treatment center, Pioneer House, is opened in Mission Hills, Minnesota.
  • First Organization Called Narcotics Anonymous

    Danny C., following his eighth stay in the U.S. Public Health Service Narcotics Hospital in Lexington, where he participated in Addicts Anonymous, returns to New York City and begins the first organization called Narcotics Anonymous. Danny calls his group Narcotics Anonymous, rather than Addicts Anonymous, to avoid any confusion over the existence of two groups called A.A. The Narcotics Anonymous organization that exists today is not founded until 1953.
  • National Clergy Council on Alcoholism Founded

    National Clergy Council on Alcoholism Founded
    The National Clergy Council on Alcoholism (NCCA) (now referred to as the National Catholic Council on Alcoholism and Related Drug Problems) is founded by Father Ralph Pfau, the first Catholic priest to enter into recovery through A.A. The NCCA provides education and consultation regarding addiction to the Catholic Church in America.
  • Hazelden Foundation Incorporated

    The Hazelden Foundation is incorporated in Minnesota with the purpose of operating a "sanatorium for curable alcoholics of the professional class." The treatment center admits its first patient on March 21 and officially opens in May.
  • Jimmy K.'s Clean Date

    Jimmy K.'s Clean Date
    Narcotics Anonymous founder Jimmy Kinnon becomes involved in Alcoholics Anonymous and stops using drugs and alcohol. He will remain clean until his death in 1985.
  • A.A.'s Twelve Traditions Adopted

    A.A.'s Twelve Traditions Adopted
    The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous are formally adopted at the first International Convention of A.A., which is held in Cleveland Ohio from July 28 through 30, 1950.
  • Dr. Bob Dies

    Dr. Bob Dies
    Dr. Bob S., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, passes away from cancer just months after speaking at the first International Convention of A.A. He has been sober for fifteen years.
  • North Conway Institute Founded

    The North Conway Institute is founded by Episcopal priest, the Reverend David A. Works, in North Conway, New Hampshire to encourage church ministry with alcoholics. It encourages involvement in the formation of public policy and the development of church policy statements on alcohol and alcoholism.
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drug Violators

    The United States Congress dramatically increases penalties for drug offenses by passing the Boggs Act, which imposes mandatory minimum sentences of two to five years for first-time offenders.
  • Al-Anon Formed

    Al-Anon Formed
    Lois W., the wife of Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill W., with the help of her friend Anne B., forms a clearinghouse and service office to support the families of alcoholics. This eventually becomes Al-Anon.
  • Alcoholism Defined in American Medical Community

    The American Medical Association officially defines alcoholism in its Journal's Standard Nomenclature of Disease.
  • Riverside Hospital Opens to Treat Addicted Youth

    Concerned about adolescent heroin addiction, New York City opens Riverside Hospital to treat the problem of narcotic addiction among youth.
  • Christopher D. Smithers Foundation

    R. Brinkley "Brink" Smithers starts the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that will eventually allocate more than $12 million to alcoholism-related projects. Smithers decides to devote the Foundation to the fight against alcoholism after attending the Yale School of Alcohol Studies in 1956.
  • LSD Used to Treat Alcoholism

    The first ever treatment of alcoholic patients with LSD is carried out at the Saskatchewan Hospital. LSD treatment is intended to help create a chemically-induced experience of "hitting bottom." On the contrary, patients on LSD begin escaping into pleasurable psychedelic experiences rather than hitting bottom.
  • Hazelden's Fellowship Club Halfway House Founded

    Realizing that alcoholics need extended help following treatment, Hazelden founds its Fellowship Club halfway house in Minnesota.
  • A.A.'s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

    A.A.'s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
    Alcoholics Anonymous releases its "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions" with the hope of providing a system to guide and protect the group life of A.A.
  • First Narcotics Anonymous Meeting

    First Narcotics Anonymous Meeting
    The Narcotics Anonymous organization that exists today holds its first recovery meeting in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Act Amendments

    Prompted by President Eisenhower’s January 18, 1954 health message, amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1920 go into effect. One part of this legislation renders those suffering from alcoholism eligible for federally-funded vocational rehabilitation services.
  • "The Al-Anon Family Groups" Released

    "The Al-Anon Family Groups" Released
    Al-Anon releases its first hardcover book, "The Al-Anon Family Groups," at the A.A. International Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Dia Linn Opens

    At a time when there is very little care available for women struggling with addiction, Hazelden opens its women's program on White Bear Lake in Dellwood, Minnesota. It is called "Dia Linn," which means "God be with us" in Gaelic.
  • Narcotic Control Act of 1956

    The Narcotic Control Act of 1956 is passed, again increasing the penalties for drug offenses, this time with a very specific focus on marijuana.
  • "Hospitalization of Patients with Alcoholism"

    The American Medical Association issues a resolution in which it recognizes alcoholism as a disease and calls for hospitals to discontinue the discriminatory practice of barring alcoholics from medical treatment in hospitals.
  • "Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age" Published

    "Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age" Published
    Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, A.A.’s first attempt to record its history, is published.
  • Alateen Formed

    Alateen Formed
    Alateen, the arm of Al-Anon for youth affected by a loved one's alcoholism, is formed and begins to meet in Pasadena, California. Alateen is the first organization for children of alcoholics since the Junior Washingtonian Societies of the early 1840s.
  • First Meeting of Gamblers Anonymous

    The first meeting of Gamblers Anonymous takes place in Los Angeles, California.
  • Los Angeles Times Recommends NA

    Los Angeles Times Recommends NA
    In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Harry Nelson positively profiles Narcotics Anonymous as a legitimate place for addicts to go for help. He writes, "There are few sympathetic persons, groups or agencies an addict can turn to for help. Narcotics Anonymous is one group that can and will help."
  • Synanon Founded

    Synanon Founded
    Synanon, a therapeutic commune for the recovery of alcoholics and drug addicts, is founded by Charles Dederich in Ocean Park, California.
  • Synanon's "Big Cop-Out"

    Synanon's "Big Cop-Out"
    During an activity called the "big cop-out," in which Synanon members admit their failings to one another, several members confess to having continued using drugs in secret. As a result, founder Chuck Dederich develops "the game," a structured, hard-hitting group format in which members are encouraged to be brutally honest and point out the flaws of other members through a series of "indictments."
  • Narcotics Anonymous Literature

    Narcotics Anonymous Literature
    Jimmy K. and Sylvia W. address the absence of literature in Narcotics Anonymous by writing the pamphlets, "Who Is an Addict?" "What Can I Do?" "What Is the NA Program?" "Why Are We Here?" and "Recovery and Relapse."
  • Harvard Psilocybin Project

    Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert of Harvard's Department of Psychology start the Harvard Psilocybin Project to research the effects of psilocybin, the entheogenic hallucinogen found in certain species of mushroom, on human consciousness.
  • Overeaters Anonymous Founded

    Overeaters Anonymous Founded
    Overeaters Anonymous is founded.
  • NA's "Little White Book"

    NA's "Little White Book"
    Narcotics Anonymous publishes "The Little White Book," which includes the Twelve Traditions of Narcotics Anonymous. The Twelve Traditions are developed in order to avoid the extinction of NA, which nearly happened in 1959.
  • Riverside Hospital Closes due to Ineffectiveness

    New York City's Riverside Hospital for addicted youth closes when a follow-up study of former patients reveals a 97% rate of relapse.
  • First NA Group inside Institution

    First NA Group inside Institution
    The first Narcotics Anonymous Group inside an institution is formed at Washington State Penitentiary (also known as Walla Walla Penitentiary) in Walla Walla, Washington.
  • Robinson v. California

    The U.S. Supreme Court rules, in Robinson v. California, that it is unconstitutional to punish people simply for being addicts. In concurring with the opinion, Justice William O. Douglas states that it is "cruel and unusual punishment ... to treat as a criminal a person" suffering from the disease of addiction.
  • Prettyman Commission Established

    President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order 11076, establishing the President's Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse, commonly referred to as the "Prettyman Commission." In its report, the Prettyman Commission recommends relaxing mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions, investing more money in addiction research, and dismantling the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to focus more on treatment and law enforcement.
  • "Synanon" Film Released

    "Synanon" Film Released
    "Synanon," the motion picture, is released by Columbia Pictures.
  • Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965

    Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965
    President Lyndon B. Johnson approves the Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965, which amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to establish special controls for depressant and stimulant drugs and counterfeit drugs, such as barbiturates, LSD, and hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms.
  • Methadone in Addiction Treatment

    In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Marie Nyswander and Vincent Dole report the positive results of their clinical trial of the use of methadone to treat heroin addiction. As a result, methadone maintenance emerges as a new and controversial heroin addiction treatment method.
  • Economic Opportunity Act Amendment Supports Alcoholism Treatment

    The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 is amended, providing more than $10 million to support the development of local alcoholism treatment and legal advice programs.
  • "Life" Magazine Features Article on LSD

    "Life" Magazine Features Article on LSD
    "Life" magazine features an article in which it estimates that more than one million people have tried LSD.
  • Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act

    The Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act is passed, providing addict offenders the opportunity for "civil commitment" to treatment programs, in some cases in place of criminal incarceration.
  • First Issue of "The Voice of NA"

    First Issue of "The Voice of NA"
    Narcotics Anonymous prints and distributes the first issue of its newsletter, "The Voice of NA." This issue proposes that NA have its own publishing company called CARENA, which stands for Compassion, Action, Respect, Empathy, Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Controlled Substances Act of 1970 Passed

    The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (also known as the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970) is signed into law by President Nixon, regulating the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of certain controlled substances.
  • Comprehensive Alcoholism Prevention and Treatment Act

    The Comprehensive Alcoholism Prevention and Treatment act, also known as the Hughes Act, is signed into law by President Nixon, creating the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which is responsible for creating a program of alcoholism research, education, and training, and of establishing a national network of alcoholism prevention and treatment centers.
  • Bill W. Dies

    Bill W. Dies
    Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous Bill W. dies.
  • Nixon Declares Drug Abuse "Public Enemy Number One"

    In an address to Congress, President Nixon makes several recommendations for the prevention and control of drug abuse, including a new focus on rehabilitation, especially among members of the military. Later that day, Nixon declares drug abuse "America's public enemy number one."
  • First World Convention of NA

    First World Convention of NA
    Narcotics Anonymous holds its first World Convention in La Mirada, California, where a vote authorizes the creation of the NA World Service Office.
  • Discovery of Opiate Receptors

    An international team of scientists co-discovers opiate receptors within human nerve tissue. This discovery helps scientists to understand how opiates like morphine and heroin affect the body.
  • Women for Sobriety

    Sociologist Jean Kirkpatrick develops her "New Life" program, an alcoholism and addiction recovery program designed specifically for the emotional needs of women. In 1975, the program changes its name to Women for Sobriety. The program is based upon a Thirteen Statement Program of positivity that encourages emotional and spiritual growth.
  • Rockefeller Drug Laws

    The Rockefeller Drug Laws, which mandate harsh minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders, are signed into law in the State of New York. These laws become the national policy model for drug laws, marking a shift towards addressing drug use issues through the criminal justice system rather than through the medical and public health systems.
  • Stricter Methadone Guidelines

    Congress enacts the Narcotic Addict Treatment Act of 1974, an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act (1970). This act implements stringent guidelines governing the operation of methadone detoxification and maintenance clinics in an attempt to reduce abuses within methadone programs.
  • Lexington Narcotics Hospital Closes

    The federal narcotic hospital program at Lexington closes as methadone programs, therapeutic communities, and other community-based treatment efforts replace federal treatment programs. Its sister program at Fort Worth will close in 1977.
  • Pills Anonymous Founded

    Pills Anonymous is founded to provide a 12-Step program specifically for those addicted to pills.
  • NA Literature in Spanish

    NA Literature in Spanish
    The first Spanish translations of the Narcotics Anonymous publications the "Little White Book," and "Who, What, How and Why" are approved.
  • Operation Understanding

    Operation Understanding is carried out in Washington, D.C. by the National Council on Alcoholism. In an attempt to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease of alcoholism, 52 prominent citizens from all walks of life, including Buzz Aldrin (pg. 155) and Dick Van Dyke, publicly proclaim their recovery from alcoholism.
  • Overcomers Outreach Founded

    Overcomers Outreach is founded by Bob and Pauline B. in Whittier, California, as a bridge between 12-step recovery for all kinds of addictions and compulsive behaviors and traditional evangelical Christian churches. O.O. practices the Steps of A.A., but corresponds Christian scripture to the Steps and names Jesus Christ as its higher power.
  • NA World Service Office

    NA World Service Office
    The Narcotics Anonymous World Service Office is incorporated, with founder Jimmy K. carrying out the routine office work.
  • Sex Addicts Anonymous Founded

    Sex Addicts Anonymous Founded
    Sex Addicts Anonymous is founded.
  • First NA Literature Conference for Basic Text Development

    First NA Literature Conference for Basic Text Development
    The Narcotics Anonymous Literature Committee holds the first of many Literature Conferences to develop a "Big Book" for Narcotics Anonymous. These Conferences continue regularly under the direction of Committee Chair Bo S. until the publication of the Basic Text in 1983.
  • NA "Basic Text" Draft

    NA "Basic Text" Draft
    The "Gray Book," the draft version of the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, goes into print.
  • NA "Clean Time" Key Tags

    NA "Clean Time" Key Tags
    The Narcotics Anonymous World Service Office starts the tradition of distributing "clean time" key tags to NA members throughout the world.
  • Cocaine Anonymous Founded

    Cocaine Anonymous Founded
    Cocaine Anonymous is founded by Tom K. in Hollywood, California.
  • NA's Basic Text Published

    NA's Basic Text Published
    The publication of "Narcotics Anonymous," NA's Basic Text. Until this point, NA members have been using the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and practicing "hip pocket recovery" with NA's Little White Book and other Information Pamphlets.
  • Antabuse Approved by FDA

    Antabuse, also called disulfiram, a medication used to treat alcoholism by providing a "pharmacological barrier" between the alcoholic and alcohol, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety

    Jim Christopher, a recovering alcoholic who is uncomfortable with the spiritual aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous, organizes Secular Organizations for Sobriety (also known as Save Our Selves). SOS provides a program for those who want to enter into recovery without the perceived religious aspects of A.A. SOS is a subcommittee of the Council for Secular Humanism.
  • Jimmy K. Dies

    Jimmy K. Dies
    Founder of Narcotics Anonymous Jimmy K. dies at the age of 74.
  • Rational Recovery Founded

    Rational Recovery is founded by Jack and Lois Trimpey to provide a non-religious, non-spiritual approach to alcoholism recovery that focuses on the use of reason and rational self-interest to solve alcohol-related problems. Rational Recovery is a family-based program that takes the stand that "addicts are not disease victims but traitors to their families who must earn respect through prolonged abstinence."
  • Reagan's Drug-Free Workplace Executive Order

    President Regan issues Executive Order 12564, which calls for the creation of drug-free workplaces in all federal installations and the testing of all federal employees in sensitive positions.
  • First Needle Exchange Program in U.S.

    In response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, former injection drug user and Yale graduate student Jon Parker starts the first needle distribution and exchange program in the U.S. Parker is eventually arrested and criminally charged for his work to save addicts' lives, but is acquitted on the "necessity defense" in January of 1990.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. Among those protected by the Act are those in recovery or receiving rehabilitation treatment for addiction or alcoholism.
  • Twelve Concepts for NA Service

    Twelve Concepts for NA Service
    The Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship adopts the Twelve Concepts for NA Service at the World Service Conference meeting in Dallas, Texas.
  • NA Publishes "Just for Today"

    NA Publishes "Just for Today"
    Narcotics Anonymous publishes its daily meditation book, called "Just for Today."
  • NA Publishes "It Works, How and Why"

    NA Publishes "It Works, How and Why"
  • First Meeting of Crystal Meth Anonymous

    First Meeting of Crystal Meth Anonymous
    Bill C. and twelve other crystal meth addicts meet for the first time as Crystal Meth Anonymous at 9:45 pm at the West Hollywood Alcohol and Drug Center in West Hollywood, California.
  • Grant Program for Drug Courts

    The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 is passed. Included in the Act is a "competitive grant program" of $1 billion "to support state and local drug courts which provide supervision and specialized services to offenders with rehabilitation potential."
  • Student Athlete Drug Testing Upheld by Supreme Court

    The U.S. Supreme Court upholds, in Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, the right of public schools to test student athletes for drug use.
  • NA Mission and Vision Statements

    NA Mission and Vision Statements
    Narcotics Anonymous adopts vision and mission statements for NA World Services at the World Service Conference meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Addiction as a Chronic Medical Illness

    In an article entitled "Drug Dependence, a Chronic Medical Illness: Implications for Treatment, Insurance, and Outcomes Evaluation" in the "Journal of the American Medical Association," McLellan, Lewis, O'Brien, and Kleber call for the treatment of addiction as a chronic medical illness.
  • Faces and Voices of Recovery Founded

    Faces and Voices of Recovery Founded
    Faces and Voices of Recovery is founded to reduce our society's stigma about the disease of addiction and its recovery.
  • Foundation for Recovery Incorporated

    Foundation for Recovery Incorporated
    The Foundation for Recovery is incorporated in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Foundation's mission is to make recovery from addiction more available to the addict who still suffers, and is inspired by the principles exhibited in the lives of addicts who have found and continue to live in recovery.