AA Literature

AA Singleness of Purpose

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CLOSED MEETING
This is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. In support of A.A.’s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcoholism.  

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OPEN MEETING
This is an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. We are glad you are all here — especially newcomers. In keeping with our singleness of purpose and our Third Tradition which states that “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking,” we ask that all who participate confine their discussion to their problems with alcohol. 

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AA Preamble

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

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Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc. Reprinted with permission


Anonymity Statement

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AA Anonymity Statement
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions. Please respect this and treat in confidence who you see and what you hear.

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How It Works

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from the book of Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 58-60

Chapter 5
HOW IT WORKS

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. 

Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. 

There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. 

They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. 

Their chances are less than average. 

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. 

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps. 

At some of these we balked. 

We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. 

With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. 

Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. 

Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baf­fling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. 

But there is One who has all power—that One is God. May you find Him now! 

Half measures availed us nothing. 

We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. 

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

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

 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

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

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9th Step Promises

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from the book Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 83 & 84

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear.

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

Self-seeking will slip away.

Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

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12 Steps of AA

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The 12 Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.


2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.


4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.


6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.


7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.


9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.


10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.


11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.


12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

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12 Traditions of AA

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The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous (SHORT FORM)

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery  depends upon A.A. unity.

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

3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

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

5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

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

9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create   service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us
to place principles before personalities.

Copyright 1952, 1953, 1981 by A.A. Grapevine, Inc. and Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing
(now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.)  All rights reserved.

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12 Concepts of AA

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The 12 Concepts Of A.A.


The Twelve Concepts (Short Form)

I.   Final Responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole fellowship.


II.   The General Service Conference of A.A. has become, for nearly every practical purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole society in its world affairs.


III.   To ensure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A. – the conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs, committees, and executives – with a traditional “Right of Decision”.


IV.   At all reasonable levels, we ought to maintain traditional “Right of Participation”, allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge.


V.   Throughout our structure, a traditional “Right of Appeal” ought to prevail, so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive careful consideration.


VI.   The Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility in most world service matters should be exercised by the trustee members of the Conference acting as the General Service Board.


VII.   The Charter and Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments, empowering the trustees to manage and conduct world service affairs. The Conference Charter is not a legal document; it relies upon tradition and the A.A. purse for final effectiveness.


VIII.   The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of these entities.


IX.   Good service leadership at all levels is indispensable for our future functioning and safety. Primary world service leadership, once exercised by the founders, must necessarily be assumed by the trustees.


X.   Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined.


XI.   The trustees should always have the best possible committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Composition, qualifications, induction procedures, and rights and duties will always be matters of serious concern.


XII.   The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible , by substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, and that, like the society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.


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*As adopted by the 12th annual General Service Conference
of Alcoholics Anonymous on April 26, 1962
 

Serenity Prayer

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God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

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Chapter 3 More About Alcoholism

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Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many
pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to
be smashed.

We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control,
but such intervals usually brief were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our
type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.

We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of our kind like other men. We have tried
every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse. Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing a
making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn't done so yet.

Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self- deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves
exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic. If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right-about- face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven
knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!

Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the
house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not
taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums we could increase the list ad infinitum.

Print Here - More about Alcoholism – portion of Chapter 3, of the Book, Alcoholics Anonymous © Alcoholics Anonymous

There is a Solution

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Pg. 25 of Big Book


Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced accomplishing those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.
 

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A Vision For You

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A VISION FOR YOU

Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us. Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of The Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
May God bless you and keep you – until then.


“REPRINTED FROM THE BOOK 

(ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS PAGE 164)
WITH PERMISSION OF A.A. WORLD SERVICES, INC.

Emotional Sobriety

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Below, is the substance of a revealing letter which Bill Wilson wrote several years ago to a close friend who also had troubles with depression. The letter appeared in the "Grapevine" January,
1958. You can also find a re-print in the book, Language of The Heart, pg 236.

Bill W., AA — Emotional Sobriety
"I think that many oldsters who have put our AA "booze cure" to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA, the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.

Those adolescent urges that so many of us have for top approval, perfect security, and perfect romance, urges quite appropriate to age seventeen, prove to be an impossible way of life when we are at age forty-seven and fifty-seven.

Since AA began, I've taken immense wallops in all these areas because of my failure to grow up emotionally and spiritually. My God, how painful it is to keep demanding the impossible, and how very painful to discover, finally, that all along we have had the cart before the horse. Then comes the final agony of seeing how awfully wrong we have been, but still finding ourselves
unable to get off the emotional merry-go-round.

How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result, and so into easy, happy and good living. Well, that's not only the neurotic's problem, it's the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all of our affairs. Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy may still elude us. That's the place so many of us AA
oldsters have come to. And it's a hell of a spot, literally. How shall our unconscious, from which so many of our fears, compulsions and phony aspirations still stream, be brought into line with what we actually believe, know and want! How to convince our dumb, raging and hidden ‘Mr.
Hyde' becomes our main task.

I've recently come to believe that this can be achieved. I believe so because I begin to see many benighted ones, folks like you and me, commencing to get results. Last autumn, depression, having no really rational cause at all, almost took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was in for another long chronic spell. Considering the grief I've had with depressions, it wasn't a
bright prospect.

I kept asking myself "Why can't the twelve steps work to release depression?" By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis Prayer ... "it's better to comfort than to be comforted". Here was the formula, all right, but why didn't it work?

Suddenly, I realized what the matter was. My basic flaw had always been dependence, almost absolute dependence, on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.

There wasn't a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute dependencies were cut away. Because I had over the years undergone a little spiritual development, the absolute quality of these frightful dependencies had never before been so starkly revealed. 

Reinforced by what grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed upon any act of circumstance whatsoever. Then only could I be free to love as Francis did. Emotional and instinctual satisfactions, I saw, were really the extra dividends of having love, offering love, and expressing love appropriate to each relation of life.

Plainly, I could not avail myself to God's love until I was able to offer it back to Him by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn't possibly do that so long as I was victimized by false dependencies. For my dependence meant demand, a demand for the possession and control of the people and the conditions surrounding me.

While those words "absolute dependence" may look like a gimmick, they were the ones that helped to trigger my release into my present degree of stability and quietness of mind, qualities which I am now trying to consolidate by offering love to others regardless of the return to me. This seems to be the primary healing circuit: an outgoing love of God's creation and His people,
by means of which we avail ourselves of His love for us. It is most clear that the real current can't flow until our paralyzing dependencies are broken, and broken at depth. Only then can we possibly have a glimmer of what adult love really is.

If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependence and its consequent demand. Let us, with God's help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love: we may then be able to gain
emotional sobriety.

Of course, I haven't offered you a really new idea --- only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own hexes' at depth. Nowadays, my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine. 

~ Bill Wilson

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Have a problem with alcohol? 
There is a solution.
A.A. has a simple program that works. 
It’s based on one alcoholic helping another.

Download & Read The Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Recovery Books

Daily Reflections

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Read Today's Daily Reflections

This collection of 366 inspirational messages about living sober through the fellowship of AA provides support every single day of the year.

Alcoholics Anonymous

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Purchase AA Big Books

Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as the Big Book in recovery circles) sets forth cornerstone concepts of recovery from alcoholism and tells the stories of men and women who have overcome the disease.

12 Steps & 12 Traditions

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Purchase

Originally published in 1952, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions is the classic book used by AA members and groups around the world. It lays out the principles by which AA members recover and by which the fellowship functions. The basic text clarifies the Steps which constitute the AA way of life and the Traditions, by which AA maintains its unity.

As Bill Sees It

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The A.A. Way of Life...Selected Writings of A.A.'s Co-Founder

AA Comes of Age

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Bill W. tells the story of how the A.A. Fellowship grew, from its beginnings in New York and Akron to its spread across the country and overseas. Through the lens of the Three Legacies of Recovery, Unity and Service, Bill explains how the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions and the Twelve Concepts for World Service evolved. Closing chapters share the perspectives of early "friends of A.A.," including Dr. Silkworth and Father Ed Dowling. With 16 pages of archival photographs.

General Service Conference-approved.

Twenty-Four Hours a Day

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"For yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision" is part of the Sanskrit proverb quoted at the beginning of the book which has become one of the basic building blocks for a life of sobriety. In addition to a thought, meditation and prayer for each day of the year, this handy, pocket-sized volume also contains the Serenity Prayer and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a simple, yet effective way to help us relate the Twelve Steps to everyday life and helps us find the power not to take that first drink each day.

Living Sober

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This practical booklet demonstrates through simple examples how A.A. members throughout the world live and stay away from that "first drink" one day at a time. Covers topics such as attending events where alcohol is served, relationships in sobriety and much more. General Service Conference-approved.