OF GREATER DETROIT
380 Hilton Road
Ferndale, Michigan 48220
|Actual pamphlet measures approximately 3.5 x 7.5 inches.
This copy clearly states on cover it was put out by AA of Greater Detroit. It's been said that the pamphlet was originally written and distributed by the Akron group sometime in the 1940's.
The line breaks in the text of the pamphlet has been preserved for those that that matters to. In the pamphlet, the text is 'justified' = smooth margins right and left, which have been recreated here.
Note: Printing this document will not produce smooth margins as seen here.
A GUIDE to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics
Anonymous is intended as a simple, short and
concise interpretation of the rules for sober
living as compiled by the earliest members of
the organization. Great care has gone into the
preparation of the pamphlet. Most of the ideas
and explanations were brought out in a series
of instruction classes conducted by veteran
members of AA.
The Twelve Steps are the logical process by
which an alcoholic finds and maintains sobriety
and becomes rehabilitated. It has been the history
of AA that any alcoholic who has followed this
program without deviation has remained sober.
Those who have tried to cut corners, skip over
steps, have eventually found themselves in trouble.
This has been the rule rather than the exception.
Upon being asked which is the most important
of the Twelve Steps, one of the early members
once replied with another question: "Which is
the most important spoke of a wheel?" If a wheel
has twelve spokes and one is removed, the wheel
will probably continue to support the vehicle, but
it will have lost strength. Removal of another
spoke weakens it even more, and eventually the
wheel will collapse. So it is with AA. Removal of
any of the Steps will eventually result in a collapse.
It is important that the newcomer be introduced
to the Twelve Steps at as early a date as possible.
On these rules depend his full recovery. If you
feel that the Steps are a bit too complicated at
first, you can introduce them to your "baby" in a
simplified form, going into the complete program
later. The condensed form:
1. We honestly admitted we were powerless
over alcohol and sincerely wanted to do something
about it. In other word we admitted we were
whipped and had a genuine desire to QUIT FOR
2. We asked and received help from a power
greater than ourselves and another human
(NOTE: In almost all cases that power is called
God. It is, however, God as WE UNDERSTAND
HIM. For purposes of simplification, the word
God is used in this pamphlet, meaning whatever
higher power you choose to accept. In the case of
the agnostic, the atheist or any unbeliever it is only
necessary that he recognize some power in the
universe greater than he is. He can call it God,
Allah, Jehovah, the Sun, a Cosmic Force, or what-
ever he chooses. He is almost certain to admit that
we live in an orderly world, a world where night
invariably follows day, where spring follows win-
ter, where corn ripens at a certain season, where
the young are born on an invariable schedule,
where the planets and other heavenly bodies main-
tain an orderly course. So it is only logical that
there is some greater power behind this orderli-
ness. Such an admission is all that is necessary.)
3. We cleaned up our lives, paid our debts,
4. We carried our new way of life to others
desperately in need of it.
The Twelve Steps follow a logical sequence,
one that has been used almost universally by suc-
cessful members of AA. They were carefully
thought out by the founders of the organization
and are as true and as necessary to successful re-
covery from alcoholism today as they were when
they were written.
. . . .
We admitted we were powerless
over alcohol—that our lives had
WITHOUT the first step there is no chance
of recovery. It has been demonstrated over and
over again that a person becomes sober and stays
sober only when he is doing so for himself and
himself alone. He may become sober temporarily
for the sake of some person, fear of some sort,
because of his job, but unless he is sincerely, genu-
inely determined to sober up for himself, his days
of sobriety are numbered.
It is a difficult step to take. It is a step in which
no assistance from an outside source is possible.
The prospect must make it alone. It is not easy
to admit defeat. For years we have said, "I can
stop drinking any time I want to." For years we
have believed that sobriety was "just around the
corner." Tragically enough, we never rounded
that corner; and we suddenly discovered, much to
our dismay, that we could not quit. We were like
rabid baseball fans who still hope for a miracle
when the home team goes into the final inning
trailing by half a dozen runs.
So we finally came to the fork in the road. We
either honestly admitted that we had a problem
or we continued sinking deeper and deeper into
the bog of alcoholism, resulting in loss of mind
or death. Until the admission is made, to ourselves,
that our alcoholic problem has gone our to control
we have on inspiration to stop drinking. But once
that admission has been made the was is cleared.
It is at this point that Alcoholics Anonymous
can step in and lend a helping hand in the re-
mainder of the program. The remaining steps are
automatically made easier.
The symptoms of alcoholism are clearly defined.
There are scores of them, but among the major
The inability to stop drinking after taking one
The necessity for a drink in the morning to
"straighten up," that morning drink developing
into another drunk.
Getting drunk at the wrong time. That is, get-
ting drunk when every instinct tells us that the
occasion is one calling for sobriety.
Inability to sleep without the use of alcohol.
Loss of memory during a drunk and the dead-
ening of memory even when sober.
The prospect will doubtless recognize many
symptoms as his own when he listens to the stories
of members of the group. When he recognizes
them, it is imperative to impress on him that
even if he isn't an out and out alcoholic he is
studying hard to be one, and the time when he
will be in serious trouble is not too far away.
There is no known cure for alcoholism. Once
a person becomes an alcoholic (he won't recog-
nize it when he crosses the border line) he is an
alcoholic for life. He may go years and years with-
out touching intoxicants, yet when he does, he
will be back in the same old squirrel cage again.
Strangely enough, case histories prove that he will
be worse than he was before.
So it is not only important that we admit that
we are powerless over alcohol, but that we CON-
TINUE to bear in mind at all times that we are
alcoholics. Only complete sobriety can make us
and keep us normal.
If, as a newcomer, you can honestly say to your
AA friend, "I have an alcoholic problem; I am
certain that I am an alcoholic; I want to do some-
thing about it," half of the battle is won. You
are then open to teaching. Your mind is prepared
to receive instructions in the AA way of life.
. . .
Came to believe that a power
greater than ourselves could restore
us to sanity.
HAVING taken the first step we naturally
ponder what we can do to receive assistance. Look-
ing into the past we discover that our attempts
to give up alcohol through our own will power
have always failed. It is comforting to know, how-
ever, that many great minds are agreed that trying
to use will power is like trying to lift yourself by
your bootstraps. The sincere efforts of our fam-
ilies and friends to help us have been unsuccess-
ful. We have fancied ourselves as rugged individ-
ualists. We have liked to think "I am master of
my fate, I am captain of my soul." A little honest
thinking convinces us that we have been miser-
able failures as captains and masters.
Many of us tried doctors and hospitals. Some of
us tried religion. We found deep sympathy, but
we did not find sobriety. The results were always
the same—we got drunk again.
Will power, help from families and friends,
medicine, and formal religion having failed, there
is but one place to turn. That is to God as we
understand Him. This is not as difficult as it
might seem. You are not asked to go to church.
You are not asked to seek the advice of a clergy-
man. You are only asked to quit trying to run
your own life, and to keep an open mind. You are
asked to accept teaching from a group of men
who have ironed out the same problem that is
bringing you deep trouble.
Perhaps the easiest approach to the Second Step
is to think back to our childhood. When we got
into trouble we ran to our mother or father,
knowing there was complete safety in their arms.
We told them our troubles and our minds were
relieved. Picture, then, God as a universal Father,
ready to listen to your troubles, ready to give you
the same understanding and protection you re-
ceived from your parents in childhood.
If your faith is not too strong at first try solv-
ing it this way: Look around at your new friends
in AA. The program has worked for them. Their
troubles were as great as yours. They were down-
and-outers morally and in many cases physically.
Yet they have followed the rules and have man-
aged to keep sober. It is just a matter of following
the advice of your new friends. Follow the pro-
gram they lay out for you. Have faith in that
program. It has worked for them. It can work
. . .
Made a decision to turn our will
and our lives over to the care of God
as we understand Him.
ONCE having come to believe there is a Power
greater than ourselves, it is not too difficult to turn
our lives over to that Power.
It was explained in the Second Step that as
rugged individualists we were rank failures. For-
ever looking into the future, we were forever dis-
appointed when our plans failed. It is at this point
that the Day by Day, or the Twenty-Four Hour
plan comes to our assistance.
We have found that by giving up planning, by
letting each day take care of itself—and it al-
ways will—we have been able to keep sober. We
can't control the future. The past is done and
can't be returned. And so if we can do a good job
this day we are doing the best we possibly can. We
start the day by deciding to stay sober for just
twenty-four hours. We ask assistance from God
to stay sober for that brief period. And when
the day ends we thank God for the help He has
given us. And on the next day and the next we
follow the same program.
This is the first step in turning our will and
our lives over to God as we understand Him. From
this small beginning we develop until we find we
are no longer headstrong, we are no longer try-
ing to run our own lives and making a sorry job
. . .
Made a searching and fearless
AGAIN we come to a step that requires cour-
moral inventory of ourselves.
age. One of our chief reasons for drinking was
to escape from ourselves. We were afraid of our
own thoughts and knew we could escape from
them through alcohol. We were afraid to face facts.
We were afraid of our jobs, afraid of our fam-
ilies, afraid of responsibility. And we were afraid
of thinking about them.
So having fortified ourselves by taking the major
hurdles embodied in the first three steps, we find
the time has come to actually do something
definite about our problem. So very much like a
bather diving into an icy lake we plunge into an
inventory of ourselves.
And what do we find? We have been dishonest.
We have lied. We have cheated. We have broken
hearts. We have stolen. We have slandered others.
We have indulged in extra-martial activities. We
have cursed God and man. We have broken faith.
We have smashed most of the laws of God and
man. In all, we find that we are pretty sorry,
miserable individuals and every one of these facts
can be traced back to alcohol.
To continue the inventory, we consider our
physical selves, finding that health is impaired,
memory is faulty, appearance is becoming more
careless and slovenly, finances are at a low ebb.
And having honestly taken ourselves apart we
wonder how on earth people have put up with
us all this time.
It is a brave act to dissect ourselves thus. But
we are fully compensated in the great feeling of
satisfaction we experience in having at last
squarely faced an issue. No man in his right senses
wants to continue in this manner when he finds
out what is wrong with him, so we logically come
to the Fifth Step.
. . .
Admitted to God, to ourselves and
HERE again we find a very logical sequence.
to another human being the exact
nature of our wrongs.
Having analyzed ourselves we find it makes sense
to do something toward righting what we have
found wrong. If we have taken the Fourth Step
we have already fulfilled the first and second parts
of the Fifth Step requirements. For a calm diag-
nosis of ourselves brings our defects. So we come
to one of the oldest truths in the world—a
trouble shared is a trouble cut in half.
To a dmit our wrongs to another person may
sound like an insurmountable obstacle, but ac-
tually it is very easy if we go about it in the right
way. And any good AA can show the path. It
does not mean that we formally sit down with
someone and say: "I have done wrong in the fol-
lowing manner: First, I have been, etc. etc." If
that were the method used, AA would not be the
great organization it is today.
The AA member will pave the way by first
telling his story. The newcomer will be amazed
at his frankness, at the ease with which he tells
of usually unmentioned escapades. He will tell
how rotten he has acted toward his family, or
how he spent weeks of his life in jail or institu-
tions; of dishonesties; of lies and subterfuges; the
whole sorry picture.
One or two conversations like this and the new-
comer will begin to unburden himself. Things
that he thought he would never tell a living soul
start to come out. And as he shares his secrets his
mind becomes unburdened of the terrific weight
he has been carrying.
He literally gets his troubles off his chest, and
one reason for drinking—drinking to forget—
immediately disappears. It is at this point that
real sobriety begins. Nor can an alcoholic be safe
until he has unburdened himself. He begins to
feel that he "belongs." And after he has stood up
in public, leading his first meeting, he then feels
that he is a full-fledged member.
The newcomer is definitely progressing, and is
ready for the next two steps, which are grouped
together for explanation and interpretation.
. . .
We're entirely ready to have God
remove all these defects of character
. . .
Humbly asked Him to remove our
IT IS VERY likely that we will willingly take
the Sixth Step. As we scan the faces of our new
friends in AA we see something we want. We see
contentedness, freedom from fear, happiness,
serenity and peace. We have been harassed by
fear of losing our jobs, fear of divorce, fear of
creditors, in fact, fears without end. We want to
be like our new friends. And so, remembering
back that no human agency has helped us before,
are willing to have God remove all defects
of our characters.
But how do we ask Him to do it?
In the first place, we must remember at all
times that we cannot bargain with God. In our
drinking days we would get into trouble and pray
something like this: "Oh God, if you will get me
out of this jam I'll never get in trouble again."
But whether or not we got out of that par-
ticular jam, you were right back into another one.
Instead of asking for outright help, ask for
guidance. Ask merely to be shown the way, so
that you can do your own part. As we said earlier
in this booklet, ask for guidance for one day at
a time. The days will grow into weeks, into
months and into years. Yet it has been but one
day at a time.
Do this humbly. Humility is sometimes diffi-
cult to attain. In our cups we were big shots. They
were all out of step but Jim. Try to remember
that regardless of who you are, you are but a tiny
cog in the great universe. Look at a distant star
at night. Remember that it took the light from
that star a century or more to reach the earth.
Remember the star on which you gaze could prob-
ably swallow the sun without noticing it. Con-
sider that the earth is one of the lesser planets.
And then consider your own physical insignifi-
cance. It will make you feel small and humble.
And it is with that attitude that you should ask
God to remove your shortcomings.
To be humble is not to grovel before men. It
is not to become a doormat for society.
Yet while in the flesh we are but infinitesimal
specks, always remember that the very essence of
the Christian religion is that the soul of man is
eternal. It is the most precious thing in the world.
In the very least of us is a little spark of the
divine. It is that divinity that makes us rise above
the lower animals.
Humility is based on the recognition that we
are the children of God. It is the consciousness
of the need of a power greater than our own
and a willingness to let that power control our
Very simply put, humility is teachability, an
open mind to the truth.
And when we can bring ourselves to this state,
our recovery is well under way.
. . .
Made a list of all persons we had
harmed, and became willing to make
amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people
THESE TWO steps are in such direct relation
wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
to each other it is simpler to discuss them as one.
It is at this point that we begin the physical act
of rehabilitation. Here is something physical that
we can do. It is where we clean up the book of
our lives and start a brand new ledger.
Our debts are of two kinds, the physical and
the moral. A very satisfactory way to square ac-
counts is to take a piece of paper and list your
As you square accounts check off each one. It
is comforting process to watch the list grow
smaller and smaller until it disappears. This is not
an easy step. We would prefer to forget the past
and its debts. But as long as we owe them, they
are impossible to forget. They come back to haunt
us. And an alcoholic can't afford to be haunted by
So we set about paying back our physical debts.
There are those long-neglected bar bills what have
driven us from some of our favorite haunts. There
is the doctor, and the butcher, and the baker, and
the friend who loaned us money. There is the
vase we broke on a drunken party at a friend's
home. Perhaps our financial condition does not
permit us to clean up our debts all at once. Do
not hesitate to pay a dollar here and a dollar
there. It is remarkable how soon they are cleared
up, and we will find we have gained new friends.
Or perhaps a bank or other financial institution
will lump all your debts together and pay them
off, taking your note. By all means pay off this
note as rapidly as possible.
It is not so easy with the moral debts. Some
of these we can never repay. There is your em-
ployer who has given you chance after chance—
many more than you actually deserved. It would
be well to let him know, not only by word but by
deed that you are doing something to solve your
drinking problem. He will be skeptical at first,
perhaps, but he is going to admire you more and
more as time passes.
There are your friends whom you have let
down. A few apologies are in order here. There
are those you have maligned, ridiculed, or slan-
dered. As you make amends you will find yourself
increasing in strength and stature.
Finally there are your dear ones who tried so
hard to love you, to help you. How many times
have you broken their hearts? How many times
have you disappointed them? How many times
have you promised to quit drinking, only to break
the promise within a few hours or a few days?
How many times have you let them down in a
crisis? And yet they have stood by you. They
have nursed you back to health when the worst
thing wrong with you was a bad hangover. They
have paid your debts. They have protected your
names and reputation. They have fought for you
when you could not fight for yourself. They have
put up with your lies, your subterfuges, your
wanderings into extra-martial excursions, your dis-
honesties, your vile morning-after disposition.
And they still love you.
Here is a debt that cannot be repaid by words
—even though you apologize until the very
moment of death. This moral debt can never even
fully be repaid by deeds. But it can be reduced to
a minimum. The history of AA sparkles with
families reunited and happily living together. But
don't expect this miracle to happen overnight.
Always remember, it took you years to become an
alcoholic. Full rehabilitation cannot be expected
in a day or a week or a month. The road to re-
habilitation is not as long as the road to alcohol-
ism, but neither is it as tough. If you have suc-
cessfully made the Sixth and Seventh Steps you
will fully understand this. Always remember, easy
does it. We must take life and its problems a
single thing at a time. The longest journey starts
with but a single step.
Do not minimize the importance of the Eighth
and Ninth Steps. Without having taken them you
will never be on firm ground. Having conscien-
tiously taken the, your future is more assured.
Continued to take personal inven-
tory and when we were wrong
promptly admitted it.
WE FIND in AA that after a few months of
sobriety, after the alcohol is completely out of
our systems, our problems are more mental than
physical. It is very likely that a psychic quirk
scarred us on our drinking careers in the first
place. It has been the rule rather than the excep-
tion in AA that as long as a person thinks straight
he remains sober. When he goes back to the old
alcoholic way of thinking, he gets drunk.
There are certain luxuries common to the aver-
age person that an alcoholic cannot afford. He
cannot afford resentment, nor self pity. He cannot
afford envy nor greed. He cannot afford dishonesty
of any kind. He cannot afford procrastination, put-
ting off till tomorrow what should be done today.
He cannot afford to do anything that will cause
him regret or disturb his peace of mind later. And
so we must keep our thinking straight and clear.
We must recognize that our enemy is alcohol, and
that enemy is lurking to slay us on the slightest
excuse, at the slightest opening.
And so it is important that we continue to take
personal inventory. Perhaps we find ourselves
criticizing some other member's method of staying
sober. Instead, admire him for doing a fine job,
whatever his method. Perhaps you resent something
a leader has said. Forget it, it will be your turn to lead
before long, and you will probably offend someone
yourself. Perhaps you don't think your boss is ad-
vancing you fast enough. Just how long have you
deserved to be advanced?
This list could be prolonged by thousands of
words. But by this time you have advanced far
enough in this new way of living to recognize
what is good and what is harmful to you.
So, take time off occasionally to check up. Are
you doing your best? If you are, don't worry. You
are making progress.
Sought through prayer and medi-
WHAT HAVE I to meditate about? This will
tation to improve our conscious con-
tact with God as we understood Him,
praying only for knowledge of His
will for us and the power to carry
be answered within a very few days after you
have become associated with AA. For the first
time in your life you are giving of yourself, and
for the first time in your life you will find that
good is repaid with good. You will waken in the
morning with clear head and eye. You will not
be tortured with fears of what you did the night
before. People will go out of their way to be
cordial, kind and helpful. Happiness will shine
in the faces of your loved ones. You will be free
from fear, each day will add to your contented-
ness, you will not be dodging into alleys and cross-
ing streets to avoid moral and physical creditors,
you are beginning to have the power to help
others. Surely, you have much for meditation.
When you meditate on this new way of living
you cannot but realize that there is a God above,
guiding you through each successive day and
night. As you become more conscious of this you
will seem to better understand this Guiding
Power. Before long you will find it is easy to
pray. But if it doesn't come easily, don't let it
Even churchmen will admit that prayer as we
commonly hear it is phrased in language stilted
and archaic. The Thee and Thou form has been
used since the days of King James when the pres-
ent version of the Bible was written. If you don't
like it don't use it. It is not hard to say before
retiring, "Thank you, God, for keeping me sober
today." Nor is it hard to say in the morning,
"Please, God, guide me in the path of sobriety
and decent and useful living this coming day."
Make your talks with your Guiding Power a per-
sonal thing. Give thanks for help and ask for
assistance as though you were addressing your
earthly father. Your sincerity is what counts, not
the form of language you use. And be certain that
the God to whom you pray will make it easier
for you to work out your own salvation.
. . .
Having had a spiritual experience
NOW YOU ARE on your own. Your AA friends
as the result of these steps, we tried
to carry this message to other
alcoholics, and to practice these
principles in all our affairs.
have given you your tools and showed you
how to use them. From now on it is YOUR job
to fashion YOUR life.
In the first place, don't be thrown by the phrase
"Spiritual experience." It may bring to mind some-
thing supernatural—perhaps the lightning flash-
ing, the thunder resounding. Or as in the case of
Saul of Tarsus, a blinding flash of light. A sudden
spiritual experience or awakening is extremely
uncommon. Perhaps a score out of the thousands
in AA have experienced it. But it is a slow process
for the average person. We are inclined to con-
fuse spirituality with theology, dogma, creed and
ritual. Just remember that most of us are pretty
new to this useful, decent way of living, so we
must learn the spiritual side of the picture slowly
Remember this simple thing: The entire struc-
ture of the Christian religion is built on Love.
The word has many synonyms, such as Charity,
Grace, Good-will, Tenderness, Generosity, Kind-
ness, Tolerance, Sympathy, Mercy, and others.
When we help a fellow being, when we are kind
to one another we are performing a completely
spiritual act. Spirituality is simply the act of being
selflessly helpful. If you will start with this simple
explanation you will find that the green light has
been flashed on. Christ taught that there are two
great commandments: to love God; and to love
your neighbor as yourself. If you can follow these
you will have no trouble.
What you don't understand don't worry about.
It will all become clear in a short while. If any-
thing puzzles you, consult an older member of the
group. He most likely will straighten out your
thinking in a few words.
If you have gone through the first Eleven Steps
you have come far. It is now time that you are
carrying on the work. You owe your sponsor and
your group one thing—to carry the blessings of
AA to some other alcoholic in need. You will be
asked to call on a prospective member. Don't lose
any time in doing so. Tell him your story. Tell
him what you are trying to do. Tell him what AA
has done for others. If you think you are too new,
just remember that he is even newer, and if you
have been sober only one day, he will look on
you as a veteran.
Before long you will have a "baby" of your own.
Then you will really have something to live for.
You will worry about him, you will try to keep
sober for him, you will guide him to the best of
your ability, you will almost suffer with him as
he comes out of his alcoholic fog. In doing this
you will be giving of yourself, and you will find
new joy in living.
Always keep it before you that the more you
put into this work the more you will take out of
it. The harder you work, the more activities you
get into, the easier will be your road to sober
living. There is no excuse for missing a meeting.
There is no excuse for not helping someone when
asked to. Always bear in mind that your alcoholic
problem is the FIRST THING in your life. It
comes before everything else. For without sobriety
you will have nothing—no family, no job, no
friends. And before too long you will have no
sanity—and will lose life itself. Share this new
life with others. It will repay you then thousand-
In conclusion, practice these steps in all your
affairs. The Twelve Steps are not something to
be gone through once and then forgotten. They
are a set of rules for living that must be practiced
at all times, never forgotten.
Remember that you are an alcoholic, and but
one drink away from drunkenness again.
Remember that you are completely dependent
on God as you understand Him.
Remember to keep your thinking straight.
Remember that a wrong act will prey on your
mind until you either do something to rectify it
or get drunk.
Remember that defects will creep into your life
if given half a chance.
Remember that if only through gratitude, we
must help others in order to help ourselves.
And if at any time you feel uncertain of your-
self, read the Twelve Steps carefully, applying
them to yourself. You will find an answer to your
If the answer is not there, a telephone call or a
visit to another member of AA will bring the
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