J.E DOHERTY, C.SS.R.*
The most exciting spiritual movement in this country today, outside of the Catholic Church, is Alcoholics Anonymous. It is neither a church nor a sect, but its members, rescued from the bottomless pit of helpless drunkenness, now spend themselves in relentless pursuit of other inebriates and derelicts abandoned by society as hopeless. When successful, they lead them to a religious experience or conversion which is lasting, and the number thus saved is spectacular. To a Catholic it is impressive that their method of dealing with souls derives directly from the inherited wisdom of traditional Christianity, and in its essence consists of persuading them to abandon themselves to God in humble prayer.
The American scene, notorious for its absurd sects, strutting evangelists, and eccentric Messiases and prophets, has yielded nothing heretofore as spiritually sound or as constructive as the A.A. In our complex society, alcoholism is not merely a grave problem, it is becoming critical; yet the sanest and soundest approach to it has been made by rehabilitated drunkards.
So strikingly effective is their therapy of group-arrest for helping the victims of drink that the first noted American psychiatrist to befriend them, Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, thrust his observations before the American Society of Psychiatrists in words of telling force: “After observing personally for years the interesting effects of the A.A. program upon my patients …. I feel it highly imperative that we, presumably open-minded psychiatrists, view wisely and long the efforts of this group of former alcoholics …. At first I was amazed and chagrined when A.A. accomplished a change in a patient who was a failure under my therapy; now I am amazed and astonished when the patient fails under the A.A. program.”
* LIGUORIAN PAMPHLETS (1960)
While the A.A. method leans on medicine, it is basically religious, though it owes nothing to high-powered evangelical methods. Its members as well as its founders shun publicity and seek to be unknown. Their ambition is to maintain their own sanity and sobriety, and they seek primarily to reform nobody but themselves. They have found that they cannot do this unless they first face the fact of their own ungovernable weakness, and then seek God’s help in a program of day to day co-operation with His grace. Such realism in this country is a revolutionary approach to the alcohol problem.
The ordinary way of dealing with the liquor problem is to ignore it, or at least to suffer in silence. A tavern-keeper in New York quoted the famous eighteenth century writer, Samuel Johnson, to prove that the grog-shop has contributed more to earthly happiness than any other invention of man. Yet there are more than 3,000,000 chronic alcoholics in the nation today, and it is certain that their families think of alcohol largely if not solely in terms of unhappiness.
The methods of extreme reformers on the other hand, are far more dangerous. The all-out reformer’s viewpoint usually stems from the puritanical idea that human nature is essentially corrupt and cannot be trusted to use liquor temperately. It was thus expressed by one Protestant sect called the Disciples of Christ at their international convention as late as 1941; “Alcohol is a character-destroying poison, a prolific cause of crime, the cause of untold poverty and suffering … We believe, therefore, that those who do not protest against the legalizing of this traffic are destroying their social responsibility.”
At one time such convictions were so widespread in this country, as a result of the abuse of alcohol, that they gave us national Prohibition. It was called a noble experiment, but if we are to judge it by its effects, it was a thing of evil. It resulted perversely in an aggravation of the evils it sought to destroy, and led to teen-age drinking, alcoholism among women, gangsterism, and, according to most observers, contributed immeasurably to a general contempt for law and a revolution in sex-morality.
No wonder Catholics in general opposed Prohibition on the grounds that the Church did not teach that good things, when abused, should be destroyed, but rather the doctrine of voluntary abstinence or temperance. Nevertheless, there are drinkers for whom, whether for physical or psychological reasons, “one drink is too many and a hundred are not enough.” The Catholic Church is the last to deny that moderation is something very relative, and that for such individuals any amount of liquor at all is not only immoderate, but a proximate occasion of serious sin.
The Alcoholics Anonymous offer their own life-stories to prove that they fit precisely into this category; yet the knowledge of this fact alone would have been useless to them without a program of life guaranteed to bring them the help they need to survive each day without a drink. This the A.A. program does for them in twelve steps. What is most significant about these steps is the fact that they embody the conditions of sincere, humble, confident, persevering prayers for God’s help.
CLASSES OF DRINKERS
There have been many attempts by experts to classify the various types of drinkers. Some of these lists are very complicated and technical; one of them, for instance, contains twenty-eight classifications. However, for purposes of ordinary discussion, the following simple division may be presented. With relation to the consumption of alcohol, human beings may be divided into: 1) abstainers, who never touch intoxicating liquor in any form; 2) moderate drinkers, who use alcohol, but never to the point of intoxication, nor so as to impair their health; 3) intemperate drinkers, who drink in such quantity as to become drunk, or so as to injure their health.
The intemperate drinkers are either: a) occasional drinkers, who ordinarily do not exceed the bounds of moderation, but do so once in a while, as at a birthday celebration or wedding party; b) steady drinkers, who habitually indulge in excessive amounts of alcohol.
These steady drinkers, again, are of three types: 1. environmental drinkers, who take too much, not because of any inner need or compulsion, but because of the circumstances in which they are placed, for instance, salesmen, bartenders, and waiters, who feel that they have to drink with their customers, and the young men and women who frequent taverns because they do not know where else to find companionship. 2. symptomatic drinkers, whose excessive use of alcohol is merely a symptom or manifestation of feeblemindedness or of a psychosis. 3. alcohol addicts, who have an apparently uncontrollable craving for drinking to the point of intoxication.
Occasional and environmental drinkers, since they lack an inner drive or compulsion to drink, can ordinarily stop drinking altogether, or hold themselves within the bounds of moderation, once they have sincerely and firmly resolved to do so. Of course, it is possible for such persons to become so habituated to drink that they cannot get along without it; but then they must be ranked among the addicts. Usually, however, these individuals can be moderate if they make up their minds to it. What is more important for them is, first of all, to have a firm and unshakable resolution not to drink excessively, and then to forsee the occasions when they will be tempted to do so, and to plan their conduct beforehand. Each man should set for himself a limit, beyond which he will not go under any circumstances. When he gets near the limit, it would be wise for him not to drain the glass, but to retain something in it, so that he can always say: “No thanks, I still have some.” In this way, one has a chance of escaping the deplorable habit of some hosts, who, from a mistaken idea of hospitality, presstheir guests to drink, and insist on filling their glasses constantly. One should respect another’s freedom not to drink, and let each person judge for himself how much he should take.
Feebleminded and psychotic drinkers belong in an institution under custodial care. That is the only way they can be safeguarded from the deleterious effects of excessive drinking, and the only way that society can be protected against the wild rages and brutal actions to which alcohol sometimes drives such persons.
It is, however, the alcohol addict who constitutes the most difficult problem for family, friends, priests, doctors, social workers, and others who are interested in their rehabilitation. The addict, as was mentioned, has an apparently uncontrollable craving for drinking to the point of intoxication. Many of these are highly intelligent individuals, who might make a valuable contribution to the society in which they live, if it were not for their excessive drinking. Often enough they realize the havoc that alcohol is causing in their lives, and declare with apparent sincerity that they would like to be rid of it, but cannot. Sometimes, they “go on the wagon” for a period; but inevitably fall back again. Persuasions, threats, appeals to their love and sympathy all seem to have no effect. What is the explanation of this strange, overwhelming desire for intoxication?
One who thinks that the alcohol addict drinks just because he likes the taste of liquor, misses altogether the understanding seriousness of the problem. Often enough, these individuals actually dislike the taste of alcoholic drinks. The truth seems to be that the addict drinks in order to escape the burdens and responsibilities of life, which he is unable to face because of his emotional immaturity. Alcohol Addiction is, then, essentially a psychoneurotic reaction. Just as a hysteric adopts a form of bodily disability in order to escape an unpleasant situation; just as the neurasthenic turns his attention to internal states and processes in order to avoid the consideration of conflicts in his life; so the addict uses alcohol as a screen to shut out unsatisfactory exterior and interior realities.
Alcohol serves this purpose admirably, for its effect is to anaesthetize first of all the areas of the brain that are correlated with the higher faculties of man, especially the discrimination and judgment. Consequently, there is a blunting of the power of self-criticism, which allows a release of inhibitions, and the free expression of the lower emotions. Contrary to the ordinary impression, alcohol is not a stimulant, but a narcotic. Its apparently stimulating effect is the result of the relaxing of tension and anxiety born of the responsibilities and demands of life.
The first thing that one notes in a person who has had even a little too much to drink is that he speaks more freely, laughs more boisterously, expresses opinions and tells things about himself and his family that ordinarily he would never think of revealing. He is less self-conscious, less worried about how he appears in the eyes of others. This slight relief of tension and inhibition is what the moderate drinker seeks in alcohol, and he is content with this. He does not wish to become intoxicated; he drinks in order to enjoy reality, not to shut it out and escape it.
But the addict is not satisfied with merely clothing the details of life in a rosy glow. He is so maladjusted that he wants to shut out reality altogether. As greater quantities of alcohol are taken, larger and larger areas of the brain are anaesthetized. The lower nerve centers begin to be affected, as can be noticed in the thickness of speech, the staggering walk, the incoordination of the movements of the hands of one who is somewhat advanced in his cups. Gradually, the behavior becomes more and more uncontrolled. There may occur shouting, maudlin weeping, loud laughter, and reckless or quarrelsome conduct. Eventually, an almost complete anaesthetization is reached, in which the person sits and babbles incoherently, or sinks into a drunken stupor. He is for the first time being shut off from reality, from the problems, responsibilities, and sorrows of life, as an insane person in his cell.
It is this escape from reality through intoxication that the addict is consciously or subconsciously seeking. Because of his emotional immaturity, he finds life too hard to meet, and turns to alcohol as a means to soften the blows of real life, as a way back to the carefree level of adolescence or childhood. From it he expects pacification of his troubles, release from responsibility, and the banishing of anxiety. Quite frequently there is in such a person a sense of inferiority, a dissatisfaction with self. From this alcohol provides an escape by producing a feeling of elation, of self confidence, by blowing up the persons ego.
Almost always there can be discovered in the addict a history of emotional immaturity, dating back to childhood. In the background of the picture there will be found at least one over-indulgent and over-protective parent, who shielded the child from every danger and hardship, never training him to met the difficulties of life, or to realize the need of adjustment and self sacrifice in getting along with others. Or, on the other hand, there may have been parental tyranny and domination, such as to instill a pattern of fear in the child’s mind, a sense of insecurity, and a lack of ability to make his own decisions. Thus, there is established the psychoneurotic personality.
When such a person is removed from the parental care, he finds that he is expected by society to behave in an adult way, to accept his share of decisions and responsibilities. But this he cannot do; for he is still emotionally a child. Consequently, he tries to escape, to blot out reality, to get back to the irresponsible period of childhood. That such an individual takes to alcohol, rather than to another of the psychoneurotic reactions, is the result largely of circumstances. No personality is specifically determined to the use of alcohol. The personality furnishes the predisposition; the adoption of a particular escape mechanism depends to a great extent upon the environment. Alcohol is, indeed, the most available, and the most socially acceptable to the various solvents of unpleasant reality. But, if such an avenue were blocked to him, the maladjusted person would most likely take up one of the other psychoneurotic reactions, such as hysteria or neurasthenia.
From this explanation of the underlying psychological causes, one can see that the cure of an alcohol addict is a complex and difficult matter. It is not enough to plead, beg, or threaten. It is not enough to place before the person the sad consequences of excessive drinking upon himself and his family. It is not enough to keep alcohol away from him for a time. For none of these methods strike at the cause. What the person needs is a complete reeducation for life, such as to produce the maturity of character which is lacking in him.
“If thy right eye scandalize thee,” says Our Lord, “cut it out and cast it from thee.” That drink is a scandal in the life of a compulsive drinker no one doubts, and least of all the alcoholic himself. Still he does nothing about it. Why? The study of this “why” has intrigued many. He is a chronically sick man, some say; he has a real physical allergy towards liquor. It may have been this theory that gave the impetus to two Scandinavian scientists who compounded and produced a drug for the cure of alcoholism called antabuse. Anyone who takes a dose of this drug will become possessed of so real an allergy toward alcohol that he will become violently nauseated at the very smell of it. It is guaranteed to keep a man sober for six months, but it does not cure him forever.
Psychiatrists, with varying and sometimes fantastic theories about the cause of alcoholism, have applied them with but indifferent success. Nevertheless, an endowed clinic at Yale University has found in almost every case of compulsive drunkenness a personality ill at ease with reality from the time of childhood. In this clinic, psychiatrical together with physical therapy has produced good results, though they do not compare with those achieved by A.A. Alcoholics Anonymous follows these experiments with keen interest, but as far as they themselves are concerned, they consider it most important to face the fact of their weakness no matter what its cause. When they begin to mistrust themselves and to rely on a higher power, their cure has really begun.
Sudden conversion of drink addicts are nothing new in religion. They occur dramatically at times when congregations gather to pray and meditate on the eternal truths, and not only at such likely exercises as Catholic parish missions but also at revivals led by groups like the Salvation Army.
It was in fact such a conversion that marked the beginning of A.A. It happened in Brooklyn, and the gentleman destined to be a catalyst for the A.A. movement is known today in alcoholic circles as Ebby. Ebby illustrates the A.A. program only obliquely, for he did not persevere; but his conversion was genuine while it lasted. His brief excursion into the realms of sobriety took place as the result of contact with the streamlined religious sect called the Oxford Group. The Oxford Group was never able to provide a program for Ebby that would keep him permanently sober, but his temporary sobering up, which took place under their auspices, had the effect of a chain reaction that brought A.A. into being. The man really destined to be the founder of the movement was Brother “Bill,” a Wall St. “wolf” or “bear.” John Barleycorn had led “Bill” out of the stockmarket, where he had been a great financial success, into bankrupcy.
Early one November morning, Bill was seated in his kitchen surveying the world with a mellow and judicious wisdom, aided by the contents of a quart which he held in his right hand. Though the world on all sides was threatening to cave in on Bill, he was sustained for the time being by the thought of several bottles hidden about the house for the moment when his need would be greatest. At the moment Bill’s wife had gone out to look for a job to see if she could hold the family together. Into this scene walked Ebby, fresh and aglow and for the first time within Bill’s memory the glow was not from alcohol. The unaccustomed sight startled Bill. He and Ebby had been school chums together, and both were usually catalogued together as hopeless “drunks.”
There was an unmistakable air of evangelism about Ebby; he had come with the avowed purpose of telling Bill how he had been released from alcoholism. Ordinarily religious talks nauseated Bill. He had no faith at all, yet he was fascinated and astounded that anything at all could have enabled Ebby to stop drinking. Ebby simply revealed that he had learned a few basic practices of religion, and as a result had been able to get along without liquor. When he left, the man in the kitchen kept on drinking, but he was a changed man.
A month later Bill went on his last glorious binge and ended up as usual in Towns hospital, New York, a sanitorium for the drying out of alcoholics. The doctors shook their heads over him; it was almost the end of the road for him. The next stop would be insanity or death. Bill was in a deep depression when Ebby walked in again. This time Bill asked questions, and when his friend left, he cried out in desperation: “Now I’m ready to do anything – anything to receive what my good friend has. If there is a God, He will show Himself.” According to Bill, the result was instant, electric almost beyond description. “The place lit up, blind white. I knew only ecstacy and seemed to be on a mountain. A great wind blew, enveloping and permeating me… One with the universe, a great peace stole over me and I thought, ‘So this is the God of the preachers; this is the great Reality.'”
Bill became frightened at his experience. His doctors were skeptical when he tried to tell them about it, but one of them, Dr. Milton Silkworth, was shrewd enough to see that, whatever the experience was, it must be good if it kept Bill sober. It did just that, and Bill has never to this day taken another drink. He left the hospital in what is known as the “Chautauqua” phase of conversion, that is, he intended to look up every alcoholic he knew and lead them all into the same experience.
Wanting to preach the gospel to everyone, Bill soon found that something has to take place in the soul of the alcoholic before the preaching can have any effect on him. He did not grow discouraged immediately, and his first crisis came when he seemed well on the way to picking up the pieces of his broken life. Months later in Akron, Ohio, he was on the trail of a financial deal that would recoup his fortune. Though he had failed to “dry up” any of his numerous alcoholic cronies, he himself had not tippled once, and he found that his efforts to help others were keeping him that way.
Then the crash came. The business deal began to fall through, and Bill found himself walking the streets day after day in a frightful tension. The doors of the tavern beckoned and he became frantic lest he go back to drink. Calling up clergymen, he found out the name of another hopeless drunk and made an appointment to talk with him. Thus the meeting between Bill and Dr. “Bob,” the second founder of A.A., took the unique form of a converted drunk trying to keep himself sober by talking another drunk into sobriety.
Eventually it worked for both of them. They had much in common. Both were from neighboring towns in Vermont; they had much the same background; but the chief thing they had in common was their drinking problem. Dr. “Bob,” a capable surgeon, had managed to drink himself through medical school, and, though he passed out during his final examinations and flunked, he was given another try. He had lived on alcohol for many years.
During one of his many dry spells he had married, and his wife became the long-suffering alcoholic’s widow. At the time of his meeting with Bill, his drinking habits had almost completely ostracized him from all his friends. Through the mist of alcohol fumes, Bill’s words penetrated and made sense. Far more important, however, than anything Bill said, according to the doctor, was the fact “that he was the first living human being with whom I had ever talked who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience. In other words, he talked my language.”
Dr. “Bob” stopped drinking abruptly. It is true that before the month was up he was off on another spree, but it was the last one. He had gone to a convention in Atlantic City and had come back in a liquid state, but Bill was still in Akron waiting for his return. The doctor had by now the necessity of working with others to keep himself sober. Before Bill left Akron, a group of Alcoholics Anonymous had been started there by the two men, based on the religious principles that they had worked out for themselves. The doctor, aided by his wife, started a hospital for alcoholics in his own home, and in the course of ten years was to treat more than 4000 such unfort- unates.
Back in New York, Bill started another group, and within three years there were a hundred “Alcoholics Anonymous.” Of these, half never took a drink again, a quarter fell back once or twice but eventually persevered, and the other quarter quickly went back to their cups. This has been the average number of conversions maintained to this day, and the unconverted will probably end up as successful Alcoholics Anonymous when they finally learn to be honest with themselves.
Five years after the first A.A. group was formed, twenty former alcoholics were able to tell in print the amazing story of their spectacular recovery from constant drunkenness. Their stories were published in 1939 under the title, “Alcoholics Anonymous.” So great has been the demand for this book that it has had to be reprinted every year since, sometimes twice a year. By the time the book was published, its leaders had evolved a program of twelve steps which were included in the text. Since that time, they have also acquired a number of salutary traditions and have published two more books explaining their faith. The movement has spread so rapidly that today there are more than 250,000 members, with heavy concentrations in the British Isles and the Scandinavian countries.
The first twenty alcoholics who published their conversion stories spoke of God only as a “Higher Power” and tended to play down religion. There was a reason for this. Many of them had been practical agnostics, and their turning to God, as they describer it, resembled that of a drowning atheist: “My God, if there is a God, save my soul if I have a soul.” However most of them did have some faith at one time. It is estimated that about forty per cent of the A.A. had a Catholic background, with the remainder divided up among Protestants, Jews and agnostics. If it is a religion that saves them, why did it not work before for those who had some faith? The alcoholic answers that neither the A.A. program nor religion itself can help them until they first learn to be honest and sincere with themselves.
Thus the first step for the alcoholic is to be honest with himself and to strip him of all illusion. “I stand defenseless, utterly,” says the poet in The Hound of Heaven, “Naked I await Thy love’s uplifted stroke.” Francis Thompson pictures the sinner as hiding from God and fleeing from one created good to another until the Almighty has calmly stripped all his defenses away. Probably this is true in every conversion, but it is certainly so with the alcoholic. He is an alcoholic precisely because he cannot bear with himself, cannot stand naked in the light of God’s truth. He may be strong willed in other regards, aggressive, poised and even charming, but he is keenly sensitive to humiliation and is burdened with feelings of guilt. Alcohol has become for him the way out of a suffocating and intolerable impasse. It is when he reaches rock bottom and loses faith even in alcohol that he will cry out for God.
When the grace to be humble comes to the alcoholic, the A.A. program teaches him to make a searching and fearless examination of conscience and to admit the exact nature of his weakness and his sins. For a Catholic this takes the form of a sacramental confession, but even the Protestant and agnostic remind themselves of the old adage, “Confession is good for the soul,” and tell their weaknesses to each other.
The next step in the program is the alcoholic’s abandoning himself to God. He is taught to say an ancient prayer put up in modern dress: “0 God, give me the courage to change the things that must be changed; the patience to endure the things that cannot be changed; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Any instructed Catholic will see that in these first steps are embodied the conditions of effective prayer: humility, self-examination, sorrow for sins, confidence in God and abandonment to His will. As long as the alcoholic maintains these dispositions, he will obtain the grace to overcome his weakness.
A.A. members have learned the wisdom of Our Lord’s words, “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof,” and have applied them specifically to themselves. The program impresses them with the fact that they are always to be alcoholic and that they will never be able to take a drink. Their sobriety depends on their abstaining absolutely from alcohol in any form, but they are encouraged by those who have succeeded to do this on a twenty-four hour basis, as a day-to-day venture. To maintain the all-important dispositions of humility and confidence in God’s help, they meet once a week with their fellow alcoholics. These meetings are a powerful and usually a necessary psychological help, for they are encouraged by new tales of conversion from drink and thus relive the miracle of their own resurrection from the dregs.
All these tactics might have been taken from the traditions of the Catholic Church, though it can hardly be said that any movement in the Church has been as spectacularly successful with out-and-out alcoholics as the A.A. movement. Moreover they quote another principle that is unmistakably Catholic, viz., that “faith without works is dead.” This principle works itself out practically when the converted alcoholics seek to carry their message of salvation to others. God seems to have blessed their apostolate in a special way, and it has become almost an adage that “it takes an alcoholic to understand an alcoholic.”
Why has the A.A. program succeeded when so many others have failed? Chiefly because those who deal with drink addicts seldom have the humility and patience required. This is especially true of religious groups. The alcoholic ordinarily is no psychopath; he is like anyone else, only more so; more rebellious, resentful, sensitive and guilt-ridden. A condemnatory and moralizing attitude such as is often taken by religious groups intensifies these feelings and sends him into a tailspin. It was for this reason that A.A. broke with the Oxford Group in the beginning, and it explains why they soft-pedal religion when they pick up a prospect from the gutter. The chances are that religion at first will awaken only thoughts of a patronizing or hard, dour-faced reformer.
Sympathetic clergymen are, however, quite popular at A.A. meetings, and this is especially true of Catholic priests. Fathers Francis Ford, S.J., and Edward Dowling, S.J., have guided the movement from the beginning.
Emotional experiences are probably the exception in the conversion of alcoholics, and the program stresses the fact that they are not necessary. Nevertheless their way of life leads inevitably to a deepening of religious faith and, in some cases, serves as a prelude to entrance into the Catholic Church. The member of A.A. who does not at least return to the practice of his ancestral faith will almost certainly persevere.
It is not unlikely that Alcoholics Anonymous will have a Catholic saint as a patron, the reformed alcoholic of Dublin, Matt Talbot. Though he has not yet been canonized, it seems probable that he will be, for there is no doubt that after his conversion he led a life of heroic sanctity.
As an illness alcoholism is but an acute manifestation of a disease common to human nature. All of us have inherited a nature wounded by original sin, and it is this wounded nature that is our heaviest burden and our cross. Alcoholics are not alone in seeking escape from this burden. But the more we seek escape from it, the heavier the burden grows. The advice of Our Lord was not idly given: “Take up thy cross and follow Me.” To face ourselves with all our weaknesses can be a shattering experience for anyone who is living in a world of illusion. Yet Alcoholics Anonymous demonstrate dramatically that, by being honest and sincere with ourselves and abandoning ourselves to the will of God, we can obtain help to overcome any moral weakness no matter how strong or deep-rooted it may be. For this reason the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous constitute a faith and a way of life not only for alcoholics but for anyone struggling with a moral weakness that is becoming uncontrollable. Here are the twelve steps:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or our weakness) – 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.