Twelve questions only you can answer…

We who are in A.A. came because we finally gave up trying to control our drinking. We still hated to admit that we could never drink safely. Then we heard from other A.A. members that we were sick. (We thought so for years!) We found out that many people suffered from the same feelings of guilt and loneliness and hopelessness that we did. We found out that we had these feelings because we had the disease of alcoholism.

We decided to try and face up to what alcohol had done to us. Here are some of the questions we tried to answer honestly. If we answered YES to four or more questions, we were in deep trouble with our drinking. See how you do. Remember, there is no disgrace in facing up to the fact that you have a problem.

  1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days? Most of us in A.A. made all kinds of promises to ourselves and to our families. We could not keep them. Then we came to A.A. A.A. said: “Just try not to drink today.” (If you do not drink today, you cannot get drunk today.)
  2. Do you wish people would mind their own business about your drinking– stop telling you what to do? In A.A. we do not tell anyone to do anything. We just talk about our own drinking, the trouble we got into, and how we stopped. We will be glad to help you, if you want us to.
  3. Have you ever switched from one kind of drink to another in the hope that this would keep you from getting drunk? We tried all kinds of ways. We made our drinks weak. Or just drank beer. Or we did not drink cocktails. Or only drank on weekends. You name it, we tried it. But if we drank anything with alcohol in it, we usually got drunk eventually.
  4. Have you had to have an eye-opener upon awakening during the past year? Do you need a drink to get started, or to stop shaking? This is a pretty sure sign that you are not drinking “socially.”
  5. Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble? At one time or another, most of us have wondered why we were not like most people, who really can take it or leave it.
  6. Have you had problems connected with drinking during the past year? Be honest! Doctors say that if you have a problem with alcohol and keep on drinking, it will get worse — never better. Eventually, you will die, or end up in an institution for the rest of your life. The only hope is to stop drinking.
  7. Has your drinking caused trouble at home? Before we came into A.A., most of us said that it was the people or problems at home that made us drink. We could not see that our drinking just made everything worse. It never solved problems anywhere or anytime.
  8. Do you ever try to get “extra” drinks at a party because you do not get enough? Most of us used to have a “few” before we started out if we thought it was going to be that kind of party. And if drinks were not served fast enough, we would go some place else to get more.
  9. Do you tell yourself you can stop drinking any time you want to, even though you keep getting drunk when you don’t mean to? Many of us kidded ourselves into thinking that we drank because we wanted to. After we came into A.A., we found out that once we started to drink, we couldn’t stop.
  10. Have you missed days of work or school because of drinking? Many of us admit now that we “called in sick” lots of times when the truth was that we were hung-over or on a drunk.
  11. Do you have “blackouts”? A “blackout” is when we have been drinking hours or days which we cannot remember. When we came to A.A., we found out that this is a pretty sure sign of alcoholic drinking.
  12. Have you ever felt that your life would be better if you did not drink? Many of us started to drink because drinking made life seem better, at least for a while. By the time we got into A.A., we felt trapped. We were drinking to live and living to drink. We were sick and tired of being sick and tired.

 

Add up all of your Yes answers, how many do you have?

Did you answer YES four or more times? If so, you are probably in trouble with alcohol. Why do we say this? Because thousands of people in A.A. have said so for many years. They found out the truth about themselves – the hard way.

But again, only you can decide whether you think A.A. is for you. Try to keep an open mind on the subject. If the answer is YES, we will be glad to show you how we stopped drinking ourselves. Just call.

A.A. does not promise to solve your life’s problems. But we can show you how we are learning to live without drinking “one day at a time.” We stay away from that “first drink.” If there is no first one, there cannot be a tenth one. And when we got rid of alcohol, we found that life became much more manageable.

Is there an alcoholic in your life?

If someone you love has a drinking problem, this booklet will provide you with facts about a simple program of recovery. Through its help, over a million people who once drank too much are now living comfortable and productive lives without alcohol.

For six decades, Alcoholics Anonymous has been working successfully for men and women from every kind of background. Before these people came to A.A., most of them had tried to control their drinking on their own and, only after repeated unsuccessful efforts at such control, finally admitted that they were powerless over alcohol. At first, they could not imagine life without it; they certainly did not want to admit that they were alcoholics. But, with the help of other A.A. members, they learned that they did not have to drink. They discovered that life without alcohol not only was possible, but could be happy and deeply rewarding.

Often those closest to an alcoholic find it hardest to see and admit that someone they care about can be an alcoholic. Such a thing just can’t be true, it seems. In their eagerness to deny the depth of the problem, they may for a time believe the alcoholic’s promises. But the repeated breaking of these promises and the increasing difficulties finally force those living with the alcoholic to acknowledge the truth.

Then a desperate search for a solution begins. Feeling that all their love and well-intended attempts to help have been wasted, they become deeply discouraged. If you have felt like this, take hope from the experience of A.A. members’ spouses, relatives, lovers, and friends who once felt the same way, but have seen the problem drinkers they care about freed from the compulsion to drink.

In A. A. , you will find answers to many questions that people asked both before and after the alcoholic in their lives joined A.A. If the problem drinkers laugh at the idea that they are in trouble with alcohol, or if they resent any such suggestions, the following pages may help explain what you can and cannot do. If the alcoholic has already joined A.A., the information that follows will help you to understand the A.A. way of life.

Perhaps the best brief description of what A.A. is and what it does is this short “Preamble,” usually read at the beginning of every A.A. meeting: 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.

Our Primary Purpose

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they many 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.

Chapter 5 pg. 58 of the “Big Book”

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:

  • That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
  • That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
  • That God could and would if He were sought.

Reprinted from the book Alcoholics Anonymous ®
Copyright © 1939, 1955, 1976, 2001 by A.A. World Services, Inc.

The Twelve Steps – The First Legacy – 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.

What A.A. does NOT do:

  1. Recruit members or furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover.
  2. Keep membership records or case histories.
  3. Follow up or try to control its members.
  4. Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses.
  5. Provide hospitalization, drugs, or medical or psychiatric treatment.
  6. Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money or other such services.
  7. Provide domestic or vocational counseling.
  8. Engage in or sponsor research.
  9. Affiliate with social agencies (though many members and service offices do cooperate with them.
  10. Offer religious services.
  11. Engage in any controversy about alcohol or other matters.
  12. Accept money for its services or contributions from non-A.A. sources.
  13. Provide letters of reference to parole boards, attorneys, court officials, schools, businesses, social agencies, or any other organization or institution.