12 Steps Guide

Alcoholics Anonymous




 to the

380 Hilton Road
Ferndale, Michigan 48220
Phone 541-6565

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,
 righted  wrongs.
     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
                 become  unmanageable.

     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
 ones  are:
     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
 for you.
. . . 

                 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
 of  it.
. . .
   Made a searching and fearless
moral   inventory   of  ourselves.
 AGAIN   we   come  to  a   step   that   requires  cour-
 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
to  another   human  being  the  exact
nature  of  our  wrongs.
 HERE   again   we   find  a  very   logical   sequence.
 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
wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
 THESE   TWO   steps   are   in   such   direct  relation
 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
 the  past.
     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-
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
it  out.
 WHAT   HAVE   I   to   meditate   about?   This  will
 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
 worry  you.
     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
as the result of  these steps, we tried
to   carry    this    message   to   other
alcoholics,   and   to   practice   these
principles  in  all  our  affairs.
 NOW   YOU  ARE  on  your  own.  Your  AA  friends
 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
 and  simply.
     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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