relative success of the A.A. program seems to be due to the fact that
an alcoholic who no longer drinks has an exceptional faculty for "reaching"
and helping an uncontrolled drinker.
In simplest form,
the A.A. program operates when a recovered alcoholic passes along the
story of his or her own problem drinking, describes the sobriety he
or she has found in A.A., and invites the newcomer to join the informal
The heart of the
suggested program of personal recovery is contained in Twelve Steps
describing the experience of the earliest members of the Society:
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
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
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
9. Made direct
amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would
injure them or others.
to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted
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
Newcomers are not
asked to accept or follow these Twelve Steps in their entirety if they
feel unwilling or unable to do so.
They will usually
be asked to keep an open mind, to attend meetings at which recovered
alcoholics describe their personal experiences in achieving sobriety,
and to read A.A. literature describing and interpreting the A.A. program.
A.A. members will
usually emphasize to newcomers that only problem drinkers themselves,
individually, can determine whether or not they are in fact alcoholics.
At the same time,
it will be pointed out that all available medical testimony indicates
that alcoholism is a progressive illness, that it cannot be cured in
the ordinary sense of the term, but that it can be arrested through
total abstinence from alcohol in any form.