Definition of Alkiespeak:
Quotes from alcoholics

of Alkiespeak:
Sayings from alcoholics

These notes are from recovery in AA and/or related 12 step programs.
Readers are encouraged to click the external link for more detail.
We hope you find them helpful.

Love in fellowship.

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Alkiespeak : quotes and sayings from alcoholics : drinking, recovery, sobriety
Thanks to Andy A. we now know a Ted, a Clancy, a Norm, and just about every group has a Bob (or a Bill, a Don, a John). All long-timers in the program and it could have been them sharing around the table.

Rock-bottom: When things got worse faster than I could lower my standards. – Anon.

I began to see that my insanity is not the crazy, stupid things I do when I’m drinking. It’s the insane idea that this time it’s going to be different, the idea that: ‘Only two drinks, that’s all I’m going to take.’ or: ‘One drink won’t hurt me.’ – Charlie P.

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Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday. – Ken D.
Fear is a darkroom where negatives are developed. – Anon.

The first time I drank alcohol, I was about 12 years old, and it made me feel so good that the way I felt without it was never really OK again. Never really. – Bob D.

I have an amnesty prayer, I’ve seen it work hundreds of times. It’s very simple. You can put it in your own words;

‘I forgive everyone on the face of this earth, living or dead, who has ever done anything to me – real or imagined – and I want good things to happen to them.’

If you will continue to say that , I will guarantee you that your attitude toward the people who are troubling you in your life is going to change. – Frank H.

I hear some say that their best thinking got them into AA. My best thinking didn’t get me here – A power greater than myself did. – Al A.

If I don’t let go, I lose my grip. – Anon.
I’m unique, just like everybody else. – Anon.

When you think that you’ve lost everything. You find that you can always lose a little more. – Bob D.

I was living on the streets, drinking. I’d sit in the meetings and listen to them talking about this ‘phenomenon of craving’, but I can’t see that it applies to me. I mean, I would drink and get drunk but it didn’t seem like a craving to me. I’d seen ‘Lost Weekend’ and ‘Days Of Wine and Roses’. I don’t claw the walls to get another drink. – But the funny thing about a craving is that you don’t realize you have it until it’s interrupted. – Bob D.Related image
Weird things they tell you;
‘How do you do this?’ – ‘Hold on.’
‘How do you surrender?’ – ‘Just let go.’ – Bea.

He said he was going to kill himself. He owed these heavies some big gambling debts.
I suggested he approach them with an amends deal; offer to pay them back a bit at a time.

He said, no he couldn’t, if he went to them, they’d kill him.
I said; ‘Well, nothing to lose, at least you wouldn’t have suicide on your mind.’ – Chuck C.

Which way did they go? How fast are they moving? How many are there? …
I must find them, I’m their leader. Ken D.

If you’re new, take off your pack and stay with us for a while. Because you are going to have a life that’s beyond your wildest dreams. You will get closer to knowing yourself, you will be introduced to yourself in this programme. – Sharon B.

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I don’t have a drinking problem, except when I can’t get a drink. – Tom W.
The measure of my anxiety is the measure of my distance from God. – Unknown.

I can’t control and enjoy my drinking.
If I control it, I’m not enjoying it and vice versa. – Liz J.

I only need one meeting a week, but….
I go to seven because I don’t know which one I need. – Anon.

You can tell an alcoholic – but you can’t tell him much. Anon.
Daily meditation for about twenty minutes is recommended for all in recovery – unless you’re very busy, then you should do half an hour. – Anon

My mind would have killed me but it needed me for transportation. – Bob E.
Drinking on a problem is like trying to put a fire out with petrol – Soldier Billy.

How many alkies does it take to change a light-bulb? Change? What do you mean, change? – Anon.

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A man was walking on a beach after a storm. Thousands of starfish were stranded on the shore. He saw a boy throwing starfish back into the ocean and asked the boy why. The boy replied: ‘The tide’s going out, the starfish will die in the sun. The man said; ‘But there’s so many of them, what difference can it make? The boy threw another starfish and said : It’ll make a difference to that one.’ Anon.

To an alcoholic, changing drinks is like changing cabins on the Titanic. – Unknown
Fellowship for long winded speakers: Alcon on and on, and on..

I’m getting younger in AA. When I came in I was an old man of thirty, I couldn’t walk across the alley. Now at seventy I’m running marathons. – Waggy Bill.

Nobody’s any better than anyone else. We’re all just trying to stay away from a drink.
The God that I was looking for, over here, over there; in some guy, the right motorcycle, the best tattoo. And all the time it was right here inside.

And it’s hope, and I have it every day if I choose to look for it. And you have it too, you have it right inside of yourself. I know that sounds like an after school special like happy little Care Bears or something, but it’s really true.

And you never have to drink again if you find that little light inside yourself.
You are so set. It’s really excellent. Sobriety rocks. – Gail.

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I went through life waiting for a space ship to land and a voice to say: ‘Sorry, dropped you on the wrong planet, time to go home now.’ – Trip S.
If I don’t stand for something, I’ll fall for anything. – Anon.

After a few years sober a lady felt sorry for me and got me a job in sales. On the streets I used to sell a lot of things I didn’t have, so with a product and a business card it was a piece of cake.- Allen F.

The best thing for you is to give up drinking.
Yeah.. What’s the next best thing? – Anon.

My life is none of my business.
I just suit up, show up; be an example of AA and leave the rest to God. – Sharon B.

If I was at your house, I’d ask to use the bathroom and I’d go through the medicine cabinet and take whatever’s there. I don’t need to know what it is. Sometimes I’d be up for days, saying the same thing over and over, chewing my tongue. Other times I’d be falling down, bouncing off the walls.

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Sometimes I’d get real ‘regular’. And I probably took enough pills out of those wheels that there’s no chance I’m going to get pregnant this century. – Bob D.

My parents tried to save me from an unhappy childhood but I thwarted them and had one anyway. – Charlie C.
Poor me, poor me…pour me a drink. – Unknown origin.

I was so grateful I couldn’t stop crying, because I thought about all the friends of mine that I’ve known through the years who couldn’t make it. Who missed it all. And I thought ‘No matter what happens I’ve got no quarrel. Not with God, not with life, not with anything. And I stood there – with cancer – feeling like one of the most fortunate women on earth. – Gayle W.

A relationship to me is what I have to do after we’ve had sex rather than say: ‘You know this was just a sexual thing, I don’t want to get involved.’ I’d rather drag it out for four or five years. – Charlie C.

What works for one person may be good, but if it’s not in the program, not the steps, then it’s not AA. Which doesn’t mean it’s no good. It just means that it’s not the AA program. So you need an Owner’s Manual; a Big Book. Then you’ll be able to read it and know what’s in there, rather than count on someone else to tell you. – Ken D

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This day is not a rehearsal. It is real.
I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix but I was Pat Boone. – Peter N.

I left my bathroom door open when I puked but I closed it when I prayed. – Sean A.
I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking. – Albert Einstein

Under every blouse there’s a bust, under every skirt there’s a slip. – Unknown origin.
Take the Fifth – or drink one. – Unknown origin. USA.

Courage is fear in action.  (or Courage is fear that has said its prayers ) – Anon.
If I share my pain and shame I cut in half. If I don’t, I double it. – Anon.
Non-alcoholic beer is for non- alcoholics. – Anon.

I had these two things in my 4th Step I really didn’t want to share. So I thought; ‘Well she doesn’t know they’re in there, I’ll just skip them.’ So I’m all ready to go when she said; ‘Before we start let’s say a little prayer.’ and she said something like; ‘Dear God let Pat be honest tonight.’ I couldn’t believe it! So I read the whole thing. It took me longer to read those two things than all the rest of the pages – I just sobbed hysterically. But I did it – What I felt after that, was committed to AA. I knew I had done something that night that I couldn’t do. – Pat Y.

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Divine aid was AA’s greatest asset. – Bill W.
No big shots in AA; One shot and we’re all shot. – Unknown origin.
No seniority here. One drink and back to the vomit. (Aussie Version) – Campsite Mick.

I picked up this little pamphlet and on the back page it said ‘Are you concerned about your drinking? If so call this number collect. ‘So I called and I talked to this woman, and I told her some lies. I told her that a lot of people with whom I’d been working had drinking problems and could she help me to help them?

And she said yes, there was literature and places that people could go, and she gave me lots of information and said she’d send me some books. We had a wonderful conversation and I just knew if I could just read this whole thing correctly I’d know how to control and enjoy my drinking… And just as I was about to hang up she said:

Sister, would you like to tell me a little bit about your own drinking?’ She just knew. She said: ‘I don’t think you’d be making a long distance call at midnight if you were concerned about other people’s drinking. And that was a moment of grace for me because I was able to break down and cry into the telephone to this strange voice to whom I’d never spoken before.

I said: ‘I don’t know what to do, I don’t know who to tell, I don’t know where to go for help. I’d become a public figure and I didn’t want anybody to know and I was very afraid. And she said: ‘Well why don’t you start going to some AA meetings and listen to the feelings.’ – Sr. Bea M.

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A lot of doctors believed that alcoholism was caused by a Valium deficiency. – Trip S.
Seven days without a meeting makes one weak. – Anon.

Rome wasn’t built in a day – That’s because an alcoholic didn’t get the contract. – Broken Hill Jack.
Trying not so much to think of myself less, as less of myself. – Brian.

We left the meeting, I was really angry. I said: ‘I’m never going to that meeting again. And I’m never sharing again!’
Mick said: ‘Oh, you’ve got to share Greg.. you never know when you might tell the truth. – Greg.

Resentments come in the back door – wearing sunglasses. Anon.
If you catch the disease of alcoholism you stay alive. If you don’t you die. – Scott R.

He asked how she could tell if her husband was lying. She said; ‘Watch his lips. If they move, he’s lying. – Anon.
If everything is coming your way…you’re in the wrong lane. – Anon.

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I came into AA with no conditions on my sobriety. Not to save a job or a marriage, or my standing in the community. I came here to save my life, and I’m real grateful for that. I see so many people come in here for other reasons and when that works out and it still doesn’t fix them …a lot get drunk. – Sean A.

I hate 12 Step calls. I complain all the way to the house.. I hate every minute of it. Until the door opens and I look in the eyes and see the pain, the fear, the degradation and the incomprehensible demoralisation. I see what was in my eyes when I walked through the doors of AA. And I look in the eyes and it becomes the greatest gift you’ve ever given me; the ability to give a little bit of my dark, sleazy past and turn it into the greatest gift that I have to give to another human being. – Patti O.

I couldn’t handle the grog – and I was no longer my own boss. – Koori 1st Step. Australia.
I’m just grateful for a door that opens from both sides. – Sailor Bill.

Selfishness, self-seeking and self-centeredness sound the same but I learned they’re different:

Selfishness is ‘It’s all for me.’
Self-centeredness is ‘It’s all about me’
Self-seeking is ‘What’s in it for me?’ – Scott R.

A definition of an alcoholic: A drunk with a conscience. – Keith D
I’ve had some lousy days sober. Some-down-in-the-dirt, drooling-on-myself, miserable low-life ugly days sober. But I’ve had fifteen and a half wonderful years. – Earl H.

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Take heart; it came to pass, it didn’t come to stay. – Unknown origin
This too shall pass… Like a gallstone. – Anon.
If it smells like a duck, looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… chances are it’s a duck. -Unknown

I never drank to get drunk. I never got up in the morning and said: ‘God, it’s gorgeous outside. I think I’ll just get drunk and pee all over myself, maybe I’ll just shame my family. Y’know what? It’s so pretty, I’ll just pass some bad cheques too.’ – Charlie C.

We’re blessed with a disease where we’re forced to love people. – Terry
I thought controlled drinking was; you drink all you can and then try to control yourself. – Sean A.

I remember that first drink and feeling so surprised and amazed and delighted.
And I think of how many alcoholics are dying right now trying somehow, some way to re-create that moment. – Charlie C.

My drinking had so isolated me that it was as if I was in a cave. And my family, over the years, and my wife in particular, had stood outside that cave asking me to come out, and I couldn’t find my way out. Finally Ebby showed up outside the cave, and after being captive in a similar cave, he entered mine – he knew the way – and he took me by the hand and led me out. One cave-dweller helping another. And I knew that’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to help other people like myself. – Bill W.

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Twelve Steps in six words: I can’t. God can. Let Him. –Unknown
There are thousands who have come to AA and tried to change that Big Book.
The key is David; Let that book change you.’ – David O’s sponsor.

I sat on the steps of that liquor store, with my broken jaw, raccoon eyes, unwashed, uncombed hair. And I sat there waiting for… I don’t know what. And this VW pulls up, and these beautiful Californian AA’s; bright smiles, bright eyes – I immediately hated them – got out and walked toward me, like I was a piece of gold, like I was an emerald sitting there on that sidewalk. – Sharon B.

I drank like eight pigs. – Mike.
Turn my stumbling blocks to stepping stones. – Jerry Jeff Walker

Ninety per cent of what I do on first contact with a new drunk is to spoon feed him Traditions. ‘Cos if you get a guy in your car and you’re on your way to a meeting and you say: ‘Look, you’re going to have to take a searching and fearless moral inventory’ you’d better not hit a red light, ‘cos they’re gone. – Doug D.

Carry the message not the mess. – Anon.
We have an approach called the Dumb Guy Approach to sobriety. We follow the directions that are in the AA Big Book.

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We don’t make up any directions, there are already directions in here. If the book says we should read, we read. If it says to pray, we pray. If it says write, we write. Simple as that; ‘Duh dum, ah what the hell, I can do that.’ – Milt L.
‘Analysis’ has ‘anal’ in there. That tells me something. – Trip S.

I was worried about stuff I couldn’t remember for my 4th Step.
My sponsor said: ‘Let’s just do the fridge, we’ll get to the freezer later. – Tony.

Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases. – Hippocrates.
I got side-tracked; it wasn’t that I was born needing six drinks, just Twelve Steps. – Trip S.

I know my capacity for drink but I keep getting drunk before I reach it. – Oliver R.
You go to a meeting and in ten minutes you’re telling a complete stranger things you wouldn’t tell a priest. – Doug D.

Denial – Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying. – Mickey B.
I’m not one who says that sobriety is a life beyond my wildest dreams – I could have dreamed up something far wilder than this. – Lorna K.

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We all came on different ships but we’re on the same boat now. – Martin Luther King.
I don’t wish to become a member of any club which will have me as a member. – Groucho Marx.

I looked around the room and I could not figure out what it was that you had which was so hot I should be willing to go to any lengths to get. Some of you had nice jewellery – and if your rings were loose and you held my hand during the Lord’s Prayer.. they were mine. – Patti O.

The newcomers ask; ‘How do I stay out of sexual relationships in early sobriety?’ Sort of an 11th Step; ‘Prayer and masturbation’. – Fred.
I heard this guy sharing and he said : ‘I ended up drinking wine, alone, in an alley.’ I started out drinking wine, alone, in an alley. – Danny T.
I’m not responsible for my next thought, only my next action. –Anon.

He drank not as an epicure, but barbarous, with a speed and dispatch, as if he were performing a homicidal function, as if he had to kill something inside himself; a worm that would not die.’ – Baudelaire talking of Edgar Allen Poe.

It’s not what you drink, or where you drink, or how much you drink; It’s what it’s doing for you.
Us looking for God is like a fish looking for water. – David C.

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Have you ever been sunburned on the roof of your mouth? – Wino Joe.
If carrots would do what alcohol did for me, I’d be a carrotolic. – Al A.

I try to keep my words palatable; I never know when I may have to eat them. – Anon.
The bridges you cross before you come to them are over rivers which aren’t there. – Gene Brown.

The reality of AA is like an invisible boat that you only see when you start rowing. – Clancy I.
I play the ball from where it lies – not where I wish it was. – Arnold Palmer.

Those who can’t forget are worse off than those who can’t remember. –Anon.
Our 2nd Tradition says that a loving God speaks through our group conscience. So I have the assurance that if I go to a meeting, willing to listen, there’ll probably be a wino in the room who’ll hit me right between the eyes with exactly what I need to hear. – Doug D.

The bigger my head. The bigger the target. – Anon.
The bridges you cross before you come to them are over rivers which aren’t there. – Gene Brown.

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Until I make peace with what I am I’ll never be content with what I have. – Burt S.
I’m so grateful to be here fully clothed and in my right mind and not crawling around in a jail cell on my hands and knees like an animal. – Johnny H.

If you take alcohol out of my life, I’m left with emptiness, darkness, despair, and all-consuming hopelessness. If it’s not replaced with something of value, I must drink. And I know absolutely, from my experience, that Alcoholics Anonymous is that something of value that fills that hole and fulfills every need I shall ever have. – Cubby S.

There’s a test in the Big Book (p31) It says ‘Try some controlled drinking, try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. Well that sounds real good, but that’s not a viable test for me. I’d go into a bar, have two drinks and it would become very clear that this is just not a good test day. It’s a good test, but tomorrow is a much better test day. – Bob D.

Once you become an alcoholic there’s no going back – a frog never goes back to being a tadpole. (Or a pickle a cucumber etc. ) Unknown origin.

Explore daily the will of God. – Carl Jung. God doesn’t need much; whatever we have left is enough.- Anon.

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If I share my pain and shame I cut in half. If I don’t, I double it. – Anon.
Non-alcoholic beer is for non- alcoholics. – Anon.

You don’t have to want what we have – You just have to not want what you have. – Eddie C.
There’s a line in ‘Alice In Wonderland’: ‘You have to run as fast as you can to stay where you are.’ And it seems like that’s the way I spent most of my life and the first few years of my sobriety.- Gayle W.

Speaking from the podiums at meetings and possibly embarrassing myself was way more than I wanted to do. I believe today that my willingness to be embarrassed was the key to me getting a life. – Steve A.

Success consists of getting up one more time than you fall. – Anon
It’s not just the ‘yets’ I worry about if I pick up a drink – it’s also the ‘agains’. – Anon.

People think that they’re going to get sober by osmosis and going to 90 meetings in 90 days. But there’s only one way to obtain and maintain sobriety and that’s through the program folded within these 164 pages. – Ted H.

They take good scotch, put juice, soda, bitters and God knows what in it, shake it up, stick an umbrella in it – That’s alcohol abuse. – Anon.

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Knowing why I was an alcoholic doesn’t help. The ship hits an iceberg, it’s sinking, everyone is rowing away. But you’re on the deck saying; ‘I’m not leaving this baby until I understand what happened.’ – Clancy I.

I was waking up with someone I didn’t like – and I was sleeping alone. – Anon.
I spent fifteen years out there looking for my girlfriend. Then I came to the program and got sober, and I went home one day and I found her; She was my wife. And ain’t that the story of the alcoholic? I spent all that time looking for something I had all along. – Norm A.

I was cool when I got to AA – If I’d have been any cooler I’d have frozen to death. – Eddie C.
Some people take themselves so seriously other people don’t have to –Anon

Resentments are like replay cameras at football games; ‘Let’s take a another look at that in slow motion and close-up – Oh yes, that was worse than I thought.. let’s look at that from another angle!’ – Joe McQ.

The measure of my anxiety is the measure of my distance from God. – Unknown origin. Aust. Look back on the past – but don’t stare. – Anon

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After a few drinks I was capable of doing anything. As a result of which I stand before you tonight with no fantasy unlived. I have done everything that it has ever occurred to me to do – I’m deeply grateful that there are some things I never thought of. – Sean A.

I know if I take a drink, I’m gone. It’s going to just keep feeding itself. But I secretly suspected that everybody who drinks must surely get that same fired-up feeling and want more, but because they don’t have a problem with it they can control it. But in the AA Big Book Dr. Silkworth says that’s not true; non alcoholics never experience that phenomenon of craving. – Bob D.

It’s fine to drink like a fish. If you drink what fish drink. – Jim M.
I ran out of the meeting screaming; ‘You’re not going to railroad me into being happy!’ A while later I realized what I’d said. – Serenity Sam.

I went outside and leaned up against the wall. I was throwing up on my shoes. And a man came out and he brought a towel and he cleaned me up, put his arms around me and said: ‘Honey this is the last drunk you’ll ever have to shake out.’ – Gayle W.

You hear all kinds of nonsense. Like: ‘If you’re in pain you’re not working the program.’ ‘If you’re afraid, you’re not working the Steps.’ Believing that nearly tore me apart for years. How can you possibly practice spiritual principles without going through periods, not only of pain, but of suffering and unbelievable agony?  It’s impossible. Because what I’m doing is uprooting illusions that I’ve based my very life on; all those old ideas, those lies I believed, and I’m wrenching them out. Like having six teeth pulled with no sedative – And I’m going to feel good? – Cubby S.

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I told the operator I wanted to talk to Alcoholics Anonymous – this was 28 years ago – so instead of giving me the Central Office she gave me the local Elano Club. The person picked up and said: ‘Hello.’ and gave the phone number. I said: ‘I want to talk to whoever’s in charge.’ I always believed in going immediately to the top. And there was a hell of an argument on the other end, as they snatched the phone away from each other while they decided who was in charge. Finally, one guy got on and said – and doesn’t this make sense? Listen to this; he said: ‘Our Higher Power can’t speak to you on the phone right now, but I have been authorized to speak in His behalf on any issues of recovery.’ – Franny S.

Other drugs; I never stopped doing one thing to do something else, I just kinda ‘added to’. – Allen F
The most effective prayer I ever said had only five words, the longest word being a swear word. God didn’t seem to mind. Trip S.

Self Will: An alkie ship’s captain at night sees a light dead ahead, on collision course and sends a signal; ‘Change your course, 12 degrees west.’ A signal comes back; ‘Change yours 12 degrees east.’ The captain begins to get angry; ‘I’m a captain.’ The reply: ‘I’m a seaman, 2nd class.’ The captain is furious now: ‘I’m on a destroyer, change your course, and call me sir!’ The reply; ‘I’m on a lighthouse, your call.. sir.’ – Jack K. (Amended)

My folks know how to push my buttons, they installed them. – Anon.
He told me ‘It’s the first drink that’s killing you — I thought it was the last gallon –Chuck C

I thought; ‘I won’t just read the 4th Step, I’ll chant it, like a Greek Tragedy; ‘I resent my mother!!’ and as I rip the pages out after I chant it, I’ll throw it on a fire, signifying the connection between heaven and earth. The smoke and ashes will carry away my sins and my purified soul will be lifted to the heavens.’ I didn’t mention this to my sponsor, ‘cos like I said, he’s kind of a rigid guy. So he picks me up and says ‘You can start reading now.’ And I thought; ‘In your Camaro?’ – I was going to read the greatest spiritual treatise ever written, in a Camaro? – Chris C.

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Using will-power to control drinking is about as effective as using will power on diarrhea. – Steve M.

Sobriety’s like a hard-on; the minute you get it, you want to fuck with it.
I got sober and I didn’t know if I was Arthur or Martha sexually.

Then a guy got up and said that when he came in he didn’t know whether he liked men, women, or sheep. So I sort of thought I was doing all right – because sheep weren’t on the agenda. –Alkiespeak | More…

I began to see that my insanity is not the crazy, stupid things I do when I’m drinking. It’s the insane idea that this time it’s going to be different, the idea that: ‘Only two drinks, that’s all I’m going to take.’ or: ‘One drink won’t hurt me.’ – Charlie P.

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