AA #3: Bill Dotson

As told by AA Co-Founder Bill Wilson, the story of how Bill and Dr. Bob encountered AA #3, Bill Dotson.

I was living at Dr. Bob’s place and one day he said to me “Don’t you think that for self-protection that we had better be working with more drunks.” I thought it was a good idea and the upshot was that he called City Hospital where he was in some discredit because of his drinking and he got hold of the Head Nurse down there and said to her “A fellow from New York and I have a new cure for alcoholism.” Quite kindly the nurse observed, “Well, Doctor, I think that you should try it on yourself.” Then she told us that they had a dandy prospect who was strapped down for blackening the eyes of one of the nurses. So doc said, “Put him to bed and we’ll be down when you get him cleared up a bit and put him in a private room.”

So a little while after Dr. Bob and I saw a sight that tens of thousands of us have since beheld and God willing, hundreds of thousands shall see. It was the sight of the man on the bed who did not yet know that he could get well.

Well, as it turned out, the man on the bed was no optimist, like many a drunk since he said, “I’m different, my case is too tough and don’t talk to me about religion, I’m already a man of faith. I used to be a Deacon in the Church and I’ve got faith in God still, but quite obviously He has none in me. Anyhow, come back tomorrow and see me as you fellows interest me as you’ve been through the mill.” Of course we had related our simple formula. Of course we had told him of our release although he was not impressed that mine was only of months and Bob’s only of days. He said, “I was sober once that long myself.”

We came once more and as we entered his room the man’s wife sat at the foot of the bed and she was saying to her husband, “What has got into you, you seem so different.” He said, “Here they are, these are the ones who understand, they’ve been through the mill.” He made great haste in explaining how during the night hope had come to him and he had taken there to follow our simple formula. Something else had happened, there was a sense of lightness, a sense of feeling in one piece, a feeling of relief, he said.

The next thing we knew No.3 said to his wife “Fetch my clothes dear, we’re going to get up and get out of here.” So A.A. No.3 rose from his bed and walked out of that place never to drink again. Well, at that time there was no realization on the part of us what had begun to happen. Of course, that was the beginning of A.A. as we understand it today. The essential process was the same and the grace of God just as everlasting.

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