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ABOUT ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
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INTRO - Q&A ABOUT A.A.

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WHAT IS ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS?

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ALCOHOLISM & ALCOHOLICS

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HOW CAN I TELL IF I'M REALLY AN ALCOHOLIC?

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CAN AN ALCOHOLIC EVERY DRINK "NORMALLY" AGAIN?

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CAN'T AN A.A. MEMBER DRINK EVEN BEER?

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WHY IS A.A. INTERESTED IN PROBLEM DRINKERS?

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WHAT A.A. DOES

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WHAT A.A. DOES NOT DO

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ANONYMITY - THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION

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THE TWELVE STEPS

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THE TWELVE TRADITIONS

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THE TWELVE CONCEPTS

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THE 9TH STEP PROMISES

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THE SERENITY PRAYER

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THE 3RD STEP PRAYER

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 THE 7TH STEP PRAYER

 

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

Several million people have probably heard or read about Alcoholics Anonymous since its beginnings in 1935. Some are relatively familiar with the program of recovery from alcoholism that has helped more than 2,000,000 problem drinkers. Others have only a vague impression that A.A. is some sort of organization that somehow helps drunks stop drinking.

This (web page) is designed for those who are interested in A.A. for themselves, for a friend or relative, or simply because they wish to be better informed about this unusual Fellowship. Included ...are answers to many of the specific questions that have been asked about A.A. in the past. They add up to the story of a loosely knit society of men and women who have one great interest in common: the desire to stay sober themselves and to help other alcoholics who seek help for their drinking problem.

The thousands of men and women who have come into A.A. in recent years are not altruistic do-gooders. Their eagerness and willingness to help other alcoholics may be termed enlightened self-interest. Members of A.A. appreciate that their own sobriety is largely dependent on continuing contact with alcoholics.

Reprinted from the pamphlrt "44 Questions " Copyright © 1952 by Works Publishing, Inc.(Now known as A.A. World Services, Inc.) with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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WHAT IS ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS?

There are two practical ways to describe A.A. The first is the familiar description of purposes and objectives that appears earlier:

"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 achieve sobriety."

The "common problem" is alcoholism. The men and women who consider themselves members of A.A. are, and always will be, alcoholics, even though they may have other addictions. They have finally recognized that they are no longer able to handle alcohol in any form; they now stay away from it completely. The important thing is that they do not try to deal with the problem single-handedly. They bring the problem out into the open with other alcoholics. This sharing of "experience, strength and hope" seems to be the key element that makes it possible for them to live without alcohol and, in most cases, without even wanting to drink.

The second way to describe Alcoholics Anonymous is to outline the structure of the Society. Numerically, A.A. consists of more than 2,000,000 men and women, in 150 countries. These people meet in local groups that range in size from a handful of ex-drinkers in some localities to many hundreds in larger communities.

In the populous metropolitan areas, there may be scores of neighborhood groups, each holding its own regular meetings. Many A.A. meetings are open to the public; some groups also hold "closed meetings," where members are encouraged to discuss problems that might not be fully appreciated by nonalcoholics.

The local group is the core of the A.A. Fellowship. Its open meetings welcome alcoholics and their families in an atmosphere of friendliness and helpfulness. There are now more than 97,000 groups throughout the world, including hundreds in hospitals, prisons, and other institutions.

Reprinted from the pamphlrt "44 Questions " Copyright © 1952 by Works Publishing, Inc.(Now known as A.A. World Services, Inc.) with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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ALCOHOLISM AND ALCOHOLICS

Not too long ago, alcoholism was viewed as a moral problem. Today, many regard it primarily as a health problem. To each problem drinker, it will always remain an intensely personal matter. Alcoholics who approach A.A. frequently ask questions that apply to their own experience, their own fears, and their own hopes for a better way of life.


What is alcoholism?

There are many different ideas about what alcoholism really is.

The explanation that seems to make sense to most A.A. members is that alcoholism is an illness, a progressive illness, which can never be cured but which, like some other diseases, can be arrested. Going one step further, many A.A.s feel that the illness represents the combination of a physical sensitivity to alcohol and a mental obsession with drinking, which, regardless of consequences, cannot be broken by willpower alone.

Before they are exposed to A.A., many alcoholics who are unable to stop drinking think of themselves as morally weak or, possibly, mentally unbalanced. The A.A. concept is that alcoholics are sick people who can recover if they will follow a simple program that has proved successful for more than one and a half million men and women.

Once alcoholism has set in, there is nothing morally wrong about being ill. At this stage, free will is not involved, because the sufferer has lost the power of choice over alcohol. The important thing is to face the facts of one's illness and to take advantage of the help that is available. There must also be a desire to get well. Experience shows that the A.A. program will work for all alcoholics who are sincere in their efforts to stop drinking; it usually will not work for those not absolutely certain that they want to stop.

Reprinted from the pamphlrt "44 Questions " Copyright © 1952 by Works Publishing, Inc.(Now known as A.A. World Services, Inc.) with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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HOW CAN I TELL IF I'M REALLY AN ALCOHOLIC?

Only you can make that decision. Many who are now in A.A. have previously been told that they were not alcoholics, that all they needed was more willpower, a change of scenery, more rest, or a few new hobbies in order to straighten out. These same people finally turned to A.A. because they felt, deep down inside, that alcohol had them licked and that they were ready to try anything that would free them from the compulsion to drink.

Some of these men and women went through terrifying experiences with alcohol before they were ready to admit that alcohol was not for them. They became derelicts, stole, lied, cheated, and even killed while they were drinking. They took advantage of their employers and abused their families. They were completely unreliable in their relations with others. They wasted their material, mental, and spiritual assets.

Many others with far less tragic records have turned to A.A., too. They have never been jailed or hospitalized. Their too-heavy drinking may not have been noticed by their closest relatives and friends. But they knew enough about alcoholism as a progressive illness to scare them. They joined A.A. before they had paid too heavy a price.

There is a saying in A.A. that there is no such thing as being a little bit alcoholic. Either you are, or you are not. And only the individual involved can say whether or not alcohol has become an unmanageable problem.

Reprinted from the pamphlrt "44 Questions " Copyright © 1952 by Works Publishing, Inc.(Now known as A.A. World Services, Inc.) with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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CAN AN ALCOHOLIC EVER DRINK "NORMALLY" AGAIN?

So far as can be determined, no one who has become an alcoholic has ever ceased to be an alcoholic. The mere fact of abstaining from alcohol for months or even years has never qualified an alcoholic to drink "normally" or socially. Once the individual has crossed the borderline from heavy drinking to irresponsible alcoholic drinking, there seems to be no retreat. Few alcoholics deliberately try to drink themselves into trouble, but trouble seems to be the inevitable consequence of an alcoholic's drinking. After quitting for a period, the alcoholic may feel it is safe to try a few beers or a few glasses of light wine. This can mislead the person into drinking only with meals. But it is not too long before the alcoholic is back in the old pattern of too-heavy drinking — in spite of all efforts to set limits for only moderate, social drinking.

The answer, based on A.A. experience, is that if you are an alcoholic, you will never be able to control your drinking for any length of time. That leaves two paths open: to let your drinking become worse and worse with all the damaging results that follow, or to quit completely and to develop a new pattern of sober, constructive living.

Reprinted from the pamphlrt "44 Questions " Copyright © 1952 by Works Publishing, Inc.(Now known as A.A. World Services, Inc.) with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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CAN'T AN A.A. MEMBER DRINK EVEN BEER?

There are, of course, no musts in A.A., and no one checks up on members to determine whether or not they are drinking anything. The answer to this question is that if a person is an alcoholic, touching alcohol in any form cannot be risked. Alcohol is alcohol whether it is found in a martini, a scotch and soda, a bourbon and branch water, a glass of champagne — or a short beer. For the alcoholic, one drink of alcohol in any form is likely to be too much, and twenty drinks are not enough.

To be sure of sobriety, alcoholics simply have to stay away from alcohol, regardless of the quantity, mixture, or concentration they may think they can control.

Obviously, few persons are going to get drunk on one or two bottles of beer. The alcoholic knows this as well as the next person. But alcoholics may convince themselves that they are simply going to take two or three beers and then quit for the day. Occasionally, they may actually follow this program for a number of days or weeks, Eventually, they decide that as long as they are drinking, they may as well "do a good job." So they increase their consumption of beer or wine. Or they switch to hard liquor. And again, they are back where they started.

Reprinted from the pamphlrt "44 Questions " Copyright © 1952 by Works Publishing, Inc.(Now known as A.A. World Services, Inc.) with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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WHY IS A.A. INTERESTED IN PROBLEM DRINKERS?

Members of A.A. have a selfish interest in offering a helping hand to other alcoholics who have not yet achieved sobriety. First, they know from experience that this type of activity, usually referred to as "Twelfth Step work," helps them to stay sober. Their lives now have a great and compelling interest. Very likely, reminders of their own previous experience with alcohol help them to avoid the overconfidence that could lead to a relapse. Whatever the explanation, A.A.s who give freely of their time and effort to help other alcoholics seldom have trouble preserving their own sobriety.

A.A.s are anxious to help problem drinkers for a second reason: It gives them an opportunity to square their debt to those who helped them. It is the only practical way in which the individual's debt to A.A. can ever be repaid. The A.A. member knows that sobriety cannot be bought and that there is no long-term lease on it. The A.A. does know, however, that a new way of life without alcohol may be had simply for the asking, if it is honestly wanted and willingly shared with those who follow.

Traditionally, A.A. never "recruits" members, never urges that anyone should become a member, and never solicits or accepts outside funds.

Reprinted from the pamphlrt "44 Questions " Copyright © 1952 by Works Publishing, Inc.(Now known as A.A. World Services, Inc.) with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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WHAT A.A. DOES

Nonalcoholic guests are welcome at “open” A.A. meetings. Attendance at “closed” meetings is limited to those who are alcoholic or think they may have a drinking problem.
At meetings A.A. members share their recovery experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem, and give person-to-person services or “sponsorship” to the alcoholics coming to A.A.
The A.A. program, as set forth in the Twelve Steps to recovery, offers the alcoholic an opportunity to develop a satisfying way of life free from alcohol.

Reprinted from A.A. Fact Sheet with permission from A.A. World Services, Inc.

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WHAT A.A. DOES NOT DO

bulletMake medical or psychiatric diagnoses or prognoses, or offer advice.
bulletProvide drying-out or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, housing, jobs, money or other welfare services.
bulletAccept any money for its services or contributions from outside sources.
bulletProvide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.
bulletEngage in or support education, research, or professional treatment.

Our recovery is based on sharing our experience, strength and hope with each other, that we may solve our common problem; more importantly, our continued sobriety depends upon helping others to recover from alcoholism.

Reprinted from A.A. Fact Sheet with permission from A.A. World Services, Inc.

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ANONYMITY - THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION

Traditionally, A.A. members have always taken care to preserve their anonymity at the “public” level: press, radio, television, and films.

In the early days of A.A., when more stigma was attached to the term “alcoholic” than is the case today, this reluctance to be identified — and publicized — was easy to understand.

As the Fellowship of A.A. grew, the positive values of anonymity soon became apparent.

First, we know from experience that many problem drinkers might hesitate to turn to A.A. for help if they thought their problem might be discussed publicly, even inadvertently, by others. Newcomers should be able to seek help with assurance that their identities will not be disclosed to
anyone outside the Fellowship.

Then, too, we believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a spiritual significance for us — that it discourages the drives for personal recognition, power, prestige, or profit that have caused difficulties in some societies. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with alcoholics might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition.

While each member of A.A. is free to make his or her own interpretations of A.A. tradition, no individual member is ever recognized as a spokesperson for the Fellowship locally, nationally, or internationally. Each member speaks only for himself or herself.

A.A. is indebted to all media for their assistance in strengthening the Tradition of anonymity over the years. From time to time, the General Service Office contacts all major media in the United States and Canada, describing the Tradition and asking for cooperation in its observance.

An A.A. member may, for various reasons, “break anonymity” deliberately at the public level. Since this is a matter of individual choice and conscience, the Fellowship as a whole obviously has no control over such deviations from tradition. It is clear, however, that such individuals do not have the approval of the overwhelming majority of members.

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THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

STEP ONE:

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable."

STEP TWO:

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

STEP THREE:

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

STEP FOUR:

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

STEP FIVE:

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

STEP SIX:

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

STEP SEVEN:

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

STEP EIGHT:

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

STEP NINE:

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

STEP TEN:

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

STEP ELEVEN:

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscience contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out."

STEP TWELVE:

"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."

Reprinted from Alcoholics Anonymous©, Fourth Edition, Pg 59-60  with permission from A.A. World Services, Inc.

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THE TWELVE TRADITIONS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

TRADITION ONE

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

TRADITION TWO

"For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as he may express himself in our group conscience.  Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern."

TRADITION THREE

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

TRADITION FOUR

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

TRADITION FIVE

"Each A.A. group has but one primary purpose - to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers."

TRADITION SIX

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

TRADITION SEVEN

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

TRADITION  EIGHT

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

TRADITION NINE

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

TRADITION TEN

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

TRADITION ELEVEN

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

TRADITION TWELVE

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

Reprinted from Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions, pg 5-8, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.

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THE TWELVE CONCEPTS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

The Twelve concepts for World Service were written by A.A.'s co-founder Bill W., and were adopted by the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1962. The Concepts are an interpretation of A.A.'s world service structure as it emerged through A.A.'s early history and experience.  The short form of the Concepts reads:

CONCEPT ONE

Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world service should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole fellowship.

CONCEPT TWO

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 on its world affairs.

CONCEPT THREE

To insure 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."

CONCEPT FOUR

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

CONCEPT FIVE

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

CONCEPT SIX

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.

CONCEPT SEVEN

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.

CONCEPT EIGHT

The trustees are the principle planners and administrators of over-all 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.

CONCEPT NINE

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

CONCEPT TEN

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

CONCEPT ELEVEN

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.

CONCEPT TWELVE

The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth of 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, and whenever possible, substantial unanimity; that it s actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in though and action.

Reprinted from The A.A. World Service Manual with permission from A.A. World Services, Inc.

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THE 9TH STEP PROMISES

"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 is we work for them."

Reprinted from Alcoholics Anonymous©, Fourth Edition, Pg 83-84, with permission from A.A. World Services, Inc.

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THE SERENITY PRAYER

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

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THE 3RD STEP PRAYER

"God, I offer myself to thee- to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always."

Reprinted from Alcoholics Anonymous©, pg 63, with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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THE 7TH STEP PRAYER

"My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.  Grant me strength, as I go out from here to do your bidding."

Reprinted from Alcoholics Anonymous©, pg 76, with permission from A.A. world Services, Inc.

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