A.A. Alcoholics Anonymous

These notes are from literature about recovery in AA and/or other 12 step programs.
Readers are encouraged to click the external links for more detail.
We hope you find them helpful.
Love in fellowship.

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AA does not teach us how to handle drinking,
it teaches us how to handle sobriety.

An alcoholic is a person. Alcoholism is the illness
An alcoholic is a man or woman who suffers from the disease of alcoholism.

Life is difficult because life is difficult.
Alcoholism is everything that’s left after alcohol is removed.

A.A. is more than a “fellowship of genius”,
it is divinity set to a program. –Father Leo | More…

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….our personal adventure 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.  —How It Works

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Compulsion is loss of control/power/harmony and
continuation of the behavior despite the consequences. –Anon.

The essence of AA is about the connection to other people,
to a Higher Power, and to self.
By finding nurturing connections with other people
we are able to find connection to Spirit.

It is through confronting our darkest truths and experiences, not overcoming them, that we are able to feel a conscious contact with God.

Darkness and light have become two sides of the same coin.

We now accept that the human condition includes having a dark side. –Recovering Spirituality/Ingrid Mathieu Ph.D. p.67-76 | More…

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Alcoholics Anonymous has an answer to problems in sobriety, making sobriety, eventually, something wonderful instead of something that can drive people to drink. –Grapevine.

The program is simply sharing, working the Twelve Steps, attending meetings, and practicing the principles of the program.

Our lives can be filled with serenity and hope when we live by the guidance of the simple principles of our program. –Just for Today | More…

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A.A. groups exist to help alcoholics achieve sobriety.

Large or small, firmly established or brand-new, speaker, discussion or study group has but one reason for being: to carry the message to the still-suffering alcoholic.

The group exists so that the alcoholic can find a new way of life, a life abundant in happiness, joy, and freedom.  –Daily Reflections | More…

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Not a cure-all
It would be a product of false pride to claim that A.A. is a cure-all, even for alcoholism.
A.A. taught me that I had a choice: to go to any lengths to enhance my sobriety.
A.A. may not be a cure-all for everything, but it is the center of my sober living. –Daily Reflections | More…

There is only one requirement for membership, the desire to stop drinking. –AA Preamble

We are only members when we say we are.
Membership in Alcoholics Anonymous is a highly personal decision.

The choice to become a member is made in the heart of each individual Alcoholic.
In the long run, coerced meeting attendance doesn’t keep too many Alcoholics in our rooms.

Only Alcoholics who are still suffering, if given the opportunity, can decide if they are powerless over alcohol.
We can carry the message, but we can’t carry the addict. –Just For Today | More…

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As sobriety means long life and happiness for the individual, so does unity mean exactly the same thing to our Society as a whole.

Unified we live; disunited we shall perish. We must think deeply of all those sick ones still to come to A.A.

As they try to make their return to faith and to life, we want them to find everything in A.A. that we have found, and yet more, if that be possible. –As Bill Sees It / Go to page 229

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When our membership was small, we dealt with “low-bottom cases” only.
Many less desperate alcoholics tried A.A., but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of their hopelessness.

By going back in our own drinking histories, we showed them that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression. –As Bill Sees It / Go to page 314

Alcoholics don’t have a normal reaction to alcohol OR abstinence
Today you are leading a life. When you were drinking, you were a life being led.

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AA’s Identifiable Sources
Identifying the Roots and the References / Summary of the Identifiable Sources
The Six Major Bible Roots….

The Bible (King James Version) which AAs called the “Good Book.”

Quiet Time – the period of prayer, Bible study, seeking of guidance, reading from sources such as Anne Smith’s Journal and devotionals such as The Upper Room, and discussing of thoughts and ideas.

Anne Smith’s Journal – a booklet written between 1933 and 1939 in the hand of Dr. Bob’s wife, with discussions of Bible, Oxford Group, recommended literature, and practical ideas for Christian living. Whose contents Anne Smith shared each morning at the Smith home with AAs and their families.

Oxford Group Principles and Practices – some twenty-eight ideas that impacted on the A.A. fellowship, were codified into its Big Book and 12 Steps, and are contained primarily in a large number of writings by various Oxford Group activists—beginning with the book Soul Surgery published in 1919

The Teachings of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. – Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York in A.A.’s formative years, a close friend of and teacher of Bill Wilson’s, and the author of over 30 titles, many sermons, and frequently published articles whose language can be found in the Big Book, Steps, and fellowship jargon. Called by Bill Wilson a “co-founder” of A.A.

Religious literature widely circulated among and read by Pioneer AAs — books, pamphlets, and articles, primarily Christian and Protestant, by such popular authors as Henry Drummond, Oswald Chambers, Glenn Clark, E. Stanley Jones, Charles Sheldon, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Emmet Fox, James Allen, Harold Begbie, Samuel Shoemaker, Victor Kitchen, Stephen Foot, and A. J. Russell. Also, daily devotionals such as The Upper Room, My Utmost for His Highest, The Runner’s Bible, The Meaning of Prayer, Victorious Living, Practicing the Presence of God, and the Imitation of Christ

Other Significant Influences on Bill’s Big Book and Steps:

William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. — the psychiatrist in charge of Towns Hospital in New York, who frequently treated Bill Wilson for alcoholism, seems to have fostered A.A.’s “obsession and allergy” theories about the so-called “disease” of alcoholism, and who wrote the Doctor’s Opinion contained in each edition of Bill’s Big Book.

Carl Gustav Jung, M.D. — the world-renowned Swiss psychiatrist who treated Rowland Hazard, recommended affiliation with a religious group, and opined there was no cure for Rowland’s chronic, alcoholic mind, except through a religious conversion experience—the solution thought by Bill Wilson to have been the source of his own cure and to be the foundation for the Twelfth Step “spiritual experience” idea in A.A.

William James, M.D. –- called by many the father of American psychology, long dead before A.A. was founded, a Harvard Professor whose focus was on psychology, experimental psychology, and philosophy, whose work impacted the writings and beliefs of Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Jr. and whose book The Varieties of Religious Experience was, to Bill Wilson, a validation of his “hot flash” experience and also a foundation of Bill’s First Step idea about “deflation in depth.”

Richard Peabody – an alcoholism therapist whose title The Common Sense of Drinking was owned by both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob and who, though he did not teach reliance on God and died drunk, appears to have influenced Bill’s writings and language with such ideas as “powerlessness,” “once an alcoholic always an alcoholic,” “no cure for alcoholism,” “surrender, “half measures availed us nothing,” and a few other therapeutic ideas.

A.A. Big Book and 12 Step Sources | More…

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