Twelve Steps Twelve Traditions Twelve Promises

Since 1934

One Day At A Time....

A trip through the Big Book, generally with some meanderings off into side paths, is a prominent portion of the journey to recovery. There was a fellow, once, who said that in some matters every one of us is like unto everybody else, in some we are like many others, and in some we resemble but a few. There are some matters, only a few, in which we are like unto no one else in all the world. Our journey through life and into recovery is just that way. The Big Book is our guide to the ways we resemble our fellow alcoholics. There are ways we resemble all of 'em, ways we resemble many of them and ways we resemble only a few. There are a few ways in which we are dangerously, terminally, unique. It is a danger to focus on the ways we differ from our fellows. Far safer it is for us to focus on the similarities, when we start walking along the slippery pathways of introspection. It is safer still to focus on others outside ourselves, and seek to be of service to them. It is traditional that, after we've been sober for six months, we do a careful evaluation of our progress, and explain it to our fellowship when we get our six-month's chip. This few pages represent my evaluation, and like most such evaluations, it is incomplete, and probably incomprehensible to anybody who isn't one of us. It will grow as I grow in understanding and sobriety. (After receiving my one-year chip, I find this to be said about as well as I can find it in me to say it, so there it stands.)

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept The things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
This excerpt from Reinhold Neibuhr's prayer opens every meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous that I have ever attended, saving one, and that was inadvertent, because the meeting was opened 'in the heat of the moment', and things got frenzied, a little bit. As I recall it, the meeting was a very good one, and if form follows function, the Serenity Prayer was not really vital to the functioning of the Fellowship on that particular Sunday afternoon. The prayer for serenity is apt, particularly in the early days of my sobriety, for there are often heavy obstacles to be dealt with, problems which are, for the moment, beyond solution, and which would, in early days, lead to despair and a falling-away which would lead directly back to the bottle. The prayer for courage is needful, because many of the problems in life are daunting when I 1

first confront them. Solving such problems is going to require me to sacrifice, financially, personally, and spiritually to make right the wreckage I have left in my wake. I will have to do things I'd far rather avoid, and often these things will be unheralded by others, or unappreciated, and I will have to accept that state of affairs. Wisdom, the third request I make of God in this prayer, is as important as the other two. I must judge whether I can or cannot change things in a given situation, whether my actions can or cannot heal the mess I've left behind me, and whether things I cannot change are permanently beyond my ability to mend, or whether they should be examined again at a later date. The passage of time can change many things, including the nature of a situation in life. As I grow and heal, my strength and ability to cope with situations that once would have baffled me are increased by my Higher Power. In that growth; things I once would have viewed as beyond my mending may come within my ability to repair. (And have, quite a few times. There are still quite a few permanent blots on the old Life of Barry, but not near so many as there were before I started 9th-stepping. Sobriety is a pretty good cleaner for blots....) (The Serenity Prayer, when you get it internalized, becomes an evaluation process, all on its own. Something happens, and I look at it. Deep breath. What is this? What can I do to handle it? It's too big to handle right now? Okay, I'll look at it again later.

God grant me the serenity to accept The things I cannot change,
I have the resources to handle it right now? Okay, what do I have to do? OUCH! That gets into my golfing time, or my spending money, or whatever resource it pinches. Well, it has to be done.

Courage to change the things I can,
Hell, it ain't all that bad. I can always go golfing later. Besides, if I don't do this right, I'll ugly up my day with it, and we all know where that path goes.... And then I'll be too drunk to go golfing.

And wisdom to know the difference.
(Well, at least this one is something I can do something about. And then it is over with. Ask me, sometime about the story of the two Buddhist monks and the geisha girl.) I don't know about you folks, but these little internal dialogues keep me sober. Happy, and free, and sober. And for that, I thank the Big Book, the Fellowship, and those of you who have helped me on my way on the Road.


Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A. A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A. A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Above copyright held by the AA Grapevine, Inc.


A Journey Through the Big Book, “Alcoholics Anonymous”, Fourth Edition. “The Doctor's Opinion”, William D. Silkworth, M.D. 1939 In this preamble to the work, “Alcoholics Anonymous”, the authors take a pair of letters from Dr. William Silkworth and prepare a foundation for the work that gives a medical view of the process by which millions of alcoholics have arrested their disease. The doctor's view of the process, and his candid admission that his field was helpless in the face of certain types of alcoholism is refreshing in these days of the mealy mouth, and an enduring tendency among professionals of all stripes to carry a considerable percentage of weasel in their every word. “In late 1934 I attended a patient who, although he had been a competent businessman of good earning capacity, was an alcoholic of a type I had come to regard as hopeless. In the course of his third treatment he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. As part of his rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others.... I personally know scores of cases who were of the type with whom other methods had failed completely.” (Page xxv) “We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and , once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it, ..., their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve.” “Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks – drinks which they see others taking with impunity....” (Page xxviii) “I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book through, and, though he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.” (Page xxxii) “Bill's Story”, Chapter 1 . Bill W. is one of the co-founders of “Alcoholics Anonymous”. This chapter is an abbreviated version of his autobiography, carrying with it some of the starkest descriptions of the thoughts and feelings of the alcoholic to be found in the literature of the subject. His outline of the process by which he came to the apprehension of the ideas which grew into the Twelve Step program is a fitting guide to the Steps themselves. “With ministers and the world's religions I parted (company) right there. mind snapped shut against such a theory.” (Page 10)


“To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not too closely followed by those who claimed Him. His moral teaching – most excellent. For myself, I had adopted those parts which seemed convenient and not too difficult; the rest I disregarded. The wars which had been fought, the burnings and chicanery that religious dispute had facilitated, made me sick. I honestly doubted whether, on balance, the religions of mankind had done any good. Judging from what I had seen in Europe and since, the power of God in human affairs was negligible, the Brotherhood of Man a grim jest. If there was a Devil, he seemed the Boss Universal, and he certainly had me.” (Page 11) “There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins.... I have not had a drink since.” (Page 13) “An alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature. Our struggles with them are variously strenuous, comic and tragic. One poor chap committed suicide in my home. He could not, or would not, see our way of life. There is, however, a vast amount of fun about it all. I suppose some would be shocked at our seeming worldliness and levity. But just underneath there is deadly earnestness. Faith has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through us, or we perish.” (Page 16.) “There Is A Solution” Chapter 2 The alcoholic is in an untenable place. He cannot continue to drink, but he finds he cannot stop. When he does manage to stop, for a time, he is “...restless, irritable and discontented, unless he can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks – drinks which he sees others taking with impunity....” He has no defense against the first drink; one is too many, and a thousand more aren't enough. “....(P)itiful and incomprehensible demoralization....” being the final result. Chapter 2 is, in many ways, the definitive guide through that painful First Step which each of us must take if we are to survive the disease of alcoholism. Been there, done that, got the desire chip to keep me from going down that road again.... And, while on the matter of chips, or other aids to memory, the program is always one of the next 24 hours. I may have thirty days sober, or thirty years. By the grace of my higher power, I don't have to take a drink on this day. And I will not allow myself to worry about tomorrow. By the time this pattern is evident, the alcoholic is beyond human help. The only help that will work now is a spiritual one, and will require assistance from others who know the path to survival. If the alcoholic doesn't get this help, he will die. (Hell, let's make it downright personal. If I don't get this help, I will die, probably drunk in a back alley someplace.) “An illness of this sort – and we have come to believe it an illness – involves those about us in a way no other human sickness can. If a person has cancer all are sorry for him and no one is angry or hurt. But not so with the alcoholic illness, for with it there goes annihilation of all the things worth while in life. It engulfs all whose lives touch the sufferer's. It brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad wives and parents – anyone can increase the list.” (Page 18.) “Highly competent psychiatrists who have dealt with us have found it sometimes impossible to 5

persuade an alcoholic to discuss his situation without reserve. Strangely enough, wives, parents and intimate friends usually find us even more unapproachable than do the psychiatrist and the doctor. But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.” (Page 18.) “...(I)f the man be a real alcoholic, the happy day (when he ceases his drinking) may not arrive. He has lost control. At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail. This tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected. The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.” (Pages 23 and 24) “More About Alcoholism” Chapter 3 Often referred to as the Insanity Chapter in A. A. meetings, this chapter shows that as an alcoholic, my life was not only unmanageable and my will powerless over my alcoholism, but I was insane as well. There are several definitions of insanity to be found in Chapter 3, and I manifested most of them in my drinking time. “We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals – usually brief - were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.” (Page 30.) “Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule....” (Page 31). (It is one of the lurking snares of our disease. We pick and peck at every kind of thing to try to persuade ourselves that we ain't one of them, you know, them alcoholic folks that cannot ever, ever get away with taking another drink. Some of us succeed in believing that, and, if they are lucky enough to make it back, they'll tell us all about it.) “We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again: 'Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.' Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind....” (Page 33) “But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience.” (Page 39) “Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. (N)either he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.” (Page 43)


“We Agnostics” Chapter 4 An atheist is one who emphatically does not believe in the existence of a Higher Power. This is the person who will argue, adamantly, in the courtroom that the mere mention of the word “God” in a schoolroom is an actionable thing under the doctrine of separation of Church and State. Such a one will fume and foam at the mouth at the invocation of such an entity in any governmental context. (I have an opinion in the matter, but under the Tenth Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, I will refrain from expressing it here, lest I stir up controversy in unacceptable fashion.) An agnostic is a milder sort of person. The agnostic declines to believe, one way or another, in a Higher Power. He won't believe there is, nor that there ain't. A sort of a mugwump fence-straddler, is our agnostic sort of fellow. Either sort finds himself at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with alcoholics and his own alcoholism. Chapter Three states it plain and hard. “Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. (N)either he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.” (Page 43) A human being does not have the sheer raw horsepower to whip this alcoholic craving, any more than a Volkswagen Beetle can drag an eighteen-wheeler trailer up Wolf Creek Pass across the Rocky Mountains. It takes more horsepower, a Higher Power sort of horsepower. The Higher Power of my understanding is a pretty powerful Being. I've seen the mountains and the glaciers. That Being created them. I've seen the oceans; and touched a whale, once. That Being created them. The planets, stars and galaxies? The individual lives and experience of all the people now living or who have ever lived? The plants, and the animals, and the wonders of the chemical world? That Being created them, every one, and all. Greater than me? For a certainty. Powerful enough to straighten out the kinks in my thinking? If that Being is powerful enough to do all those things, and humorous enough to create the duck-billed platypus, straightening out the bends and flushing out the blockages in my mental and emotional plumbing should be fairly straightforward. Best of all, this Being doesn't seem to be angry with me. “Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?” (Page 45.) The process of accepting the existence of a Higher Power, regardless how the alcoholic can conceive of that Entity, or even of accepting that there just might be such an Entity who could carry the load if we were to ask Its aid will generally begin to give results. A knowledge of history, formal religious training, and all the other impediments to a plain spiritual experience ought to be put aside, along with the ancient Greek debate about how many spirits could dance on the head of a pin. A fellow of my acquaintance pointed out that “spiritual” divides handily into “spirit” and “ritual”, with “spirit” being a thing that is far less formal and more open to direct experience than the far more formal “ritual” with which most organized styles of worship abound. Often, the difficulty that the agnostic and the atheist both experience seems to have far more to do with the ritual that it does with the spirit.


“How It Works” Chapter 5
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps. . At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find Him now! Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

1. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10.Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11.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. 12.Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Many of us exclaimed, “What an order. I can't go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas: (a.) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. (b.) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism. (c.) That God could and would if He were sought. (Page 58-60)

“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us. God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid.” (Page 62) “This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of Life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are his agents. ....Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.” (Page 62) “We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always.” (Page 63.) “Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.” (Page 63-64.) “....(W)e searched out the flaws in our makeup which caused our failure. Being convinced that self ... was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations. Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our selfesteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up”.” (Page 64-65.) “It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.


If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. ... (F)or alcoholics these things are poison.” (Page 66) “(Fear) somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn't deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble.” (Page 67-68.) (Fear and anger grow from the same wellspring. The chemical is called adrenaline, and the human body manufactures its own supply. The body responds to a threat from outside by releasing a healthy shot of adrenaline into the bloodstream. The mind responds to this chemical jolt in one of two ways, depending on the situation and on prior experience. I get angry or afraid. Either way, the chemical blocks thought processing, and the heavier the dose, the less I am able to think. The same thing happens to my ability to deal with my Higher Power. It's bad enough when I can't think. When I can't pray, I'm in a world of hurt.) (From the viewpoint of a year sober, I don't find much to quibble with here. Worry, which is a kind of a low-grade fear, is one of the most pernicious forms of the thing. Now there is a profound difference in worry and forethought, and we can throw out the baby with the bath water if we stop trying to figure out the consequences because "we don't want to worry....". “Into Action” Chapter 6 “Having made our personal inventory, what shall we do about it? We have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path. We have admitted certain defects; we have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; we have put our finger on the weak items in our personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out. This requires action on our part, which, when completed, will mean that we have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our defects.....” (Page 72) “...(W)e must be hard on ourself, but always considerate of others.” (Page 74) “We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone with perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. .... We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.” (Page 75) “Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all – every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing. When ready, we say something like this: My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.” (Page 76)


“....'Faith without works is dead.' ....We have a list of all persons we have harmed, and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory. We subjected ourselves to a drastic self-appraisal. Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven't the will do do this, we ask until it comes. Remember, it was agreed at the beginning, we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.” (Page 76) “...Our behavior will convince them more than our words.” (Page 83) “...(W)e continue to take personal inventory, and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. .... Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately, and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help....” (Page 84)

“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels (and all we get is squashed laurels.). We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe (and a patient one.). We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee – Thy will (not mine) be done.” (Page 85) “When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse, or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review, we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.” (Page 86) “On awakening, let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives. (And ain't that just the truth? If our hearts are right, we think right, and we do right. If they ain't, we don't.) In thinking about our day, we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision....” (Page 86) (But always check the return address on one of these intuitions. Check it
out as carefully as a coyote does an unexpected snack in the middle of the pasture, because alcohol is a cunning and patient foe. Otherwise your "AHA!" may turn out to be a GOTCHA! instead.) 12

“Working With Others” Chapter 7 You've heard this many times at AA meetings, just as I have. “You can't keep it unless you give it away.” My ability to stay sober, one day at a time, is contingent on my helping somebody else to do the same. I'm not going to be able to teach 'em to it, nor will it work if I preach 'em to it, and me and the world have had no luck at all pressuring them to it. Bribing 'em to it don't work either. The Eleventh Tradition has an important key to this point. "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion...." We can lead by example, and we can get them a Big Book to guide them on their way, but we can't make the decision for them. It's a program for those who want it, and they have to make that decision for themselves. “When you discover a prospect for Alcoholics Anonymous, find out all you can about him. If he does not want to stop drinking, don't waste time trying to persuade him. You may spoil a later opportunity. .... If there is any indication that he wants to stop, have a good talk with the person most interested in him – usually his wife. Get an idea of his behavior, his problems, his background, the seriousness of his condition, and his religious leanings. You need this information to put yourself in his place, to see how you would like him to approach you if the tables were turned. Sometimes it is wise to wait till he goes on a binge..... Wait for the end of the spree, or at least a lucid interval. Then let his family or a friend ask him if he wants to quit for good and if he would go to any extreme to do so. If he says yes, then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered. You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as a part of their own recovery, try to help others, and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you. If he does not care to see you, never force yourself upon him. ... You might place this book where he can see it in the interval.” (Page 90) Pages 91 through 93 give a pretty good set of steps and conditions for imparting the message of AA. “When possible, avoid meeting a man through his family. Approach through a doctor or an institution is a better bet...” “See your man alone, if possible. At first, engage in general conversation. After a while, turn the talk to some phase of drinking Tell him enough about your drinking habits, symptoms and experiences to encourage him to speak of himself. If he wishes to talk, let him do so...” “When he sees you know all about the drinking game, commence to describe yourself as an alcoholic. Tell him how baffled you were, how you finally learned you were sick. Give him an account of the struggles you made to stop. Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. ... If he is alcoholic, he will understand you at once. He will (usually) match your mental inconsistencies with some of his own.” Basic points to make in the early stages are: This is an incurable disease, and it always gets worse, never better. I have no defense, on my own, against that first drink.


I won't bring up the Big Book, or the Fellowship, unless he does. (Until he does.) I won't call him an alcoholic. If he chooses that label, he picks it for himself. When he asks me how I got well, I'll tell him. The spiritual side of the process is one thing that has to be covered well enough to show that it's not a religious thing. A general view of the way it works, stressing the matters of accepting where I was when I started, how I took stock of where I was then, and how I've cleaned up behind myself as best I might, is a good starting point. I make clear that helping him is helping myself. (I can't keep it if I don't give it away.) I'll also make it clear that it's his choice to deal himself in or not. I won't wear out my welcome. If he joins the Fellowship, he's in a better place. If he doesn't, it's his choice. I did what I could. If it doesn't work this time, maybe it will next time around, and maybe the next AA will succeed where I didn't. So long as I'm working my program, I ain't keeping score. However, if everybody I try to help goes back out, there's something wrong with my methods.... Chapter 11, "A Vision For You" The Four Horsemen. Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. These four are the keepers of the Kingdom of our drunkenness. They are the ones who lash us back and forth, to the creation of the wreckage with which our back trail is strewn. They are the guides and the managers of our alcoholic insanity. So long as we work the program, so long as we gain and maintain sobriety, these four are kept at bay. These henchmen of King Alcohol are waiting, along with their master, to destroy all the good things that the Fellowship and sobriety have wrought in my world. However, so long as I work my program, so long as I work in the Fellowship to my capacity and keep the resentment-cockroach out of my skull, the Four Horsemen and their master will be kept back in the shadows, and out of my way. It isn't a guaranteed thing. Of the Hundred who worked out the First Edition of the Big Book, eighty-five fell by the wayside, and returned to King Alcohol. I am an alcoholic. The fact that I am sober this day is a miracle. The fact that I am able to sit in company with other alcoholics, sober, at a meeting of the Fellowship, is a congregation of more miracles than are easily reckoned. Takes more fingers and toes than I got, certainly.... One of my more spiteful and spiritually blind detractors pointed out to me that I am over the hill, and my progression is inevitably downhill. It is, perhaps, so. However, I can progress along my path far better in the light of the fellowship than in the darkness and fog of King Alcohol and his minions. The path is slick and steep enough in the light. How much more fearful and dangerous would it be in the darkness and the fog. "Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find, and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God bless you and keep you - until then." (page 164) 14

The A. A. Tradition
To those now in its fold, Alcoholics Anonymous has made the difference between misery and sobriety, and often the difference between life and death. A. A. can, of course, mean just as much to uncounted alcoholics not yet reached. Therefore, no society of men and women ever had a more urgent need for continued effectiveness and permanent unity. We alcoholics see that we must work together and hang together, else most of us will finally die alone. The “Twelve Traditions” of Alcoholics Anonymous are, we A. A.'s believe, the best answers that our experience has yet given to those ever-urgent questions, “How can AA best function?” and “How can AA best stay whole and so survive?” Alcoholics Anonymous' “Twelve Traditions” follow, with the 1946 'long form' following the more modern 'short form' that is in current use.

The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous One – Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on A. A. unity.
Our AA experience has taught us that: One – Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. AA must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.

Two – For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
Two – For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.

Three – The only requirement for A. A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
Three – Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought AA membership ever depend on money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group, providing that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

Four – Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A. A. as a whole.

Four – With respect to its own affairs, each AA group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect AA as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.

Five – Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Five – Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose – that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

Six – An A. A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A. A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
Six – Problems of money, property, and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. We think, therefore, that any considerable property of genuine use to AA should be separately incorporated and managed, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. An AA group, as such, should never go into business. Secondary aids to AA, such as clubs or hospitals which require much property or administration, ought to be so incorporated and set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the AA name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them. For clubs, AA managers are usually preferred. But hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation, ought to be well outside AA – and medically supervised. While an AA group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An AA group can bind itself to no one.

Seven – Every A. A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
Seven – The AA groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members. We think that each group should soon achieve this ideal; that any public solicitation of funds using the name of Alcoholics Anonymous is highly dangerous, whether by groups, clubs, hospitals or other outside agencies; that acceptance of large gifts from any source, or of contributions carrying any obligation whatever is unwise. Then, too, we view with much concern those AA treasuries which continue, beyond prudent reserves, to accumulate funds for no stated AA purpose. Experience has often warned us that nothing can so surely destroy our spiritual heritage as futile disputes over property, money, and authority.

Eight – Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

Eight – Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well compensated. But our usual AA '12 Step' work is never to be paid for.

Nine – A. A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
Nine – Each AA group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is the best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee, and the groups of a large metropolitan area their central or intergroup committee, which often employs a full-time secretary. The trustees of the General Service Board are, in effect, our AA General Service Committee. They are the custodian of our AA Tradition and the receivers of voluntary AA contributions by which we maintain our AA General Service Office at New York. They are authorized by the groups to handle our over-all public relations and they guarantee the integrity of our principal newsletter, the AA Grapevine. All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for true leaders in AA are but trusted and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern. Universal respect is the key to their usefulness.

Ten – Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A. A. name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.
Ten – No AA group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate AA, express any opinion on outside controversial issues – particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.

Eleven – Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
Eleven – Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think AA ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as AA members ought not be broadcast, filmed or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.

Twelve – Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Twelve – And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities, that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all. 17

The Promises
. “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. (It doesn't say we won't go broke occasionally, but it won't worry us like it used to.) We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. (Pages 8384)