Are You Ready for a Post-Alcohol World?
Was Bill W. a prophet? How about Dr. Bob? Could it be said that the two forecasted a Post-Alcohol World? After all, both went to great lengths to remove alcohol from their own worlds; then they tried to do likewise for everyone else.
And where are we now? Studies show Generation Z is drinking 20% less than Millennials, who, in turn, are drinking far less than Gen Xers and Boomers. Covid slowed the downward trend rate a bit, but alcohol use still continues to slide.
And the alcohol-free market continues to rise. Indeed, the number of companies producing alcohol-free beer, wine and liquor is fast approaching 4,000. Then again, when a market rises 33% in a single year it’s going to attract a whole lot of interest.
Are the nearly 4000 companies cited by Forbes are serving a world where the majority is ready to order something other than alcohol?
Closer and Closer to a Post-Alcohol World
While the world may still be a long way from being completely post-alcohol, we are getting increasingly close. Sure, we could “blame” Dry January. Even throw in the Sober Curious. Yet even their popularity pales in comparison to the impact made by AA.
But were AA founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob prophets or proselytizers? Did the two merely forecast a post-alcohol world or convert others to meet their vision? Well, in reality, they were a little bit of both.
Bill W. infamously called himself a “conservative atheist.” In fact, before Dr. Bob came along, he had no time for God whatsoever. Dr. Bob on the other hand was a lifelong churchgoer. He also always considered AA to be a “Christian Fellowship.”
Most folks believe Bill W found God in Akron with Dr. Bob. The truth was he really “got religion” in Brooklyn courtesy of one Rowland Howard. Howard was a hardcore alcoholic; so hardcore that bot even the great Carl Jung could help him. Jung did however prescribe a “conversion experience.” And when Howard asked where to get that, the Swiss psychologist suggested a religious association.
“Howard “therefore joined ‘A First Century Christian Fellowship’ known as the Oxford Group” writes Dick B. in Silkworth.net. “Rowland followed its precepts; recovered from alcoholism; [then] helped rescue a New Yorker named Ebby Thacher.”
Howard and Thatcher both plied Bill W. with Oxford Group precepts, but it was when Ebby told a suffering Bill that “God had done for him what he could not do for himself” that Bill finally came around.
“A drunken Bill Wilson then went to Shoemaker’s Rescue Mission,” continues Dick B., “[then] checked into Towns Hospital.” It was there where he had his “hot flash” conversion experience that would make forever make “God” a part of AA’s equation.
As for proselytizing though, well, “Bill was totally unsuccessful either in converting anyone else or even in getting anyone sober.”
AA in Akron
Things were decidedly different in Akron. Oh, Bill W. didn’t suddenly become a master proselytizer. But he did get to work on the Big Book, and Dr. Bob got to work right alongside him. Day in and day out, Bill W. would write, sending the pages to Dr. Bob for edits and suggestions. And Dr. Bob did his best to steer things into at least a quasi-Biblical direction.
“Dr. Bob did make some very clear statements about the Bible and AA,” writes Dick B. “And it was in Akron where AA’s basic Biblical ideas were honed, tried, and then later put into terse and tangible form at Bill Wilson’s hands.”
Furthermore, Dick B. writes, this time in Religion Online, “psychiatrist and writer M. Scott Peck stated in Further Along the Road Less Traveled:
I believe the greatest positive event of the twentieth century occurred in Akron, Ohio. . . when Bill W. and Dr. Bob convened the first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It was not only the beginning of the self-help movement and the beginning of the integration of science and spirituality at a grass-roots level, but also the beginning of the community movement. . which is going to be the salvation not only of alcoholics and addicts, but of us all.
Prophet or proselytizer? Either? Neither? Both? By now the point is moot. Bill W. and Dr. Bob not only envisioned a post-alcohol world, it prepared for its eventuality. In fact, a lotta sober Friends of Bill might say they primed us all to enjoy it.
A Post-Alcohol World
All of which is a roundabout way to get us to Finlay Renwick’s Esquire piece “What Will the World Look Like, and Taste Like, Post-Alcohol”. Renwick, who spurred our this investigation, visits an East London non-alcohol brewery named Nirvana, where he gets with co-founder Becky Taylor-Kean. Taylor-Keen wasn’t the only bright mind behind Nirvana when it launched, but she’s the only one of the three who remained.
And good that she did too, because Renwick paints a picture that’s exceedling rosy for those who envisioned a post-alcohol world, especially for those who were keen enough to tastefully help usher it along. And Taylor-Keen an company have been very careful to create a tasteful non-alcoholic product.
Or it is alcohol-free? No matter. The point is Nirvana is generating a line of beverages that could easily pass for one of the better classes of craft beers, and that’s enabling them to ride a wave that hasn’t broken since, well, craft beer became a thing.
Yes, Renwick tosses around the phrases “sober curious” and “mindful drinking.” He also may have mentioned Dry January, which may or may not be a UK export. Renwick also gets with insightful academicians such as University of Sheffield professor John Holmes, who also happens to direct the Sheffield Alcohol Research Group. At the end of the day though it really comes down to the fact that kids these days just don’t seem to like drinking as much as their elder brethren. And they’re not even a fraction as enamored with the practice as their folks were in their heyday.
As for grandma and grandpa, well, even they were a little late for the days of the three-martini lunch. Oh, sure they got a lotta of their chutzpah from liquor. Much of their brouhaha too. But considering the untold billions spent by that generation, they mostly didn’t get much more than a very expensive hangover.
And a charter membership in Alcoholic Anonymous. Baby Boomers may not have invented AA, but they certainly grew it into a force of nature. And, yes, a force of good, no matter what God you may or may not believe in.
Healing Properties Says…
Healing Properties has been adhering to the 12 Steps for so long, we’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to try and second guess Bill W. and Dr. Bob. We’ve also found it to be entirely unnecessary. We haven’t forgot what it’s like to be grateful though. Not in the least. Because whether we’re helping the newcomer or listening to an old-timer, we fill with that old-fashioned gratitude, the kinda old-fashioned gratitude introduced in the Big Book and carried down to this very day.
We’re also very much grateful for Dick B., Silkworth.net and Religion Online for the enlightening look back, and to Finlay Renwick and Esquire for the enlightening look forward. We don’t know if the whole wild world will ever be post-alcohol; we do know that ours is already post-alcohol though. And right now that’s more than enough.
If you yourself are looking to live in a post-alcohol world, then please give us a ring. We’d be happy to show you the way.