Anonymous is not a "booze cure" or a psychological means
of controlling one's excessive or obsessive drinking.
A.A. is a program, a life-changing program, and,
in a great part, we owe our inception as a fellowship
to our origin in the Oxford Group movement during the
The Oxford Group was designed as a Life Changing program
- and we in A.A. have for our own uses and affiliation,
modified their program, chiefly by designing our twelve
step program in a manner that the alcoholic who feels
he needs and wants a change from what they are experiencing,
can comfortably accept and apply the program and thereby
change their life.
To do so, requires certain attitudes, willingness, and
acts on our parts.
We have simplified the program, in the feeling that any
alcoholic with an alcohol problem can live a life free
of the obsession to drink.
Our program of the twelve steps is really accepted in
four distinct phases, as follows:
1) Need (admission)
2) Surrender (submission)
4) Construction and Maintenance
Phase #1 - Is covered in Step 1 - "We admitted we were
powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable"
- this step points out phase 1 - or our own need - there
is a need for a change!
Phase #2 - Includes the 2nd through the 7th steps which
constitutes the phase of submission.
Step#2 - "We came to believe that a power greater than
ourselves could restore us to sanity."
Since we could not manage our own lives, of ourselves,
we found ourselves to be powerless over alcohol; we were
encouraged by the power of example of someone or some
others to believe that a power greater than ourselves
could restore us to sanity. In this step, we have the
"proof of the pudding" before we are asked to eat it!!
Others tell us of their experiences and share their deepest
feelings with us and those members are alcoholics such
as we are, and there they stand, sober, clean-eyed, useful,
confident and with a certain radiance we envy and really
want for ourselves. So, we WANT to believe it!
Of course, some persons could conceivably be a bit more
startled at first by the reference to "being restored
to sanity," but most of us finally conclude that in hearing
of some of the experiences our new friends had during
their drinking careers were anything but the actions of
a rational person, and when we reflect upon our own actions
and deeds prior to our own introduction to A.A., it is
not difficult to recognize that we too, were pretty well
out in left field also! In fact, most of us are happy
in the feeling that we were not really responsible for
many of our past unpleasant and embarrassing situations
and frankly, this step does much to relieve our feelings
of guilt and self-condemnation.
Step #3 - "We made a decision to turn our will and
our lives over to the care of God..."
Now here is the step which separates the men from the
boys (or the women from the girls) - this is the step
which tells the story as to whether we are going to be
in A.A., or around A.A. Yes, we can attend meetings, visit
the clubs, attend the social functions, but, unless we
really take step #3, we are continuing to make up our
own program. Since our entire program is based upon
dependence upon God and our lives are to be directed by
So, here we are, making a decision which in itself is
quite an accomplishment for the alcoholic, since they
are one of the most indecisive creatures in society, due
to their incapacity to manage their own life due to their
obsession - But - to make a decision to turn our life
and our will over to the care of God - this creature in
the far blue yonder, whom we have little acquaintance
with and probably much fear of, this is really asking
very, very much of an alcoholic!
Rest assured, that if they are not ready, if they have
not reached their "bottom" or extremity, and if they are
not really "hurting more than they ever have,"
they are not about to take step #3. So - they go pretty
much on their own as usual, except that they do have the
advantage of better company than they had been associating
with and this, in time, could really foul up any type
of drinking life they may have in the future!
Another important feature enters here, in that they know
now that there is a way out of their dilemma and this
is bound to "work" on them as time goes on, if
they have any pride at all in themselves! At this point
- their biggest problem is to overcome FEAR and "Let
go and let God."
Step #4 - "Made a searching and fearless Moral inventory
This is a step which should be taken with the assistance
of a sponsor, or counselor who is well experienced in
this changed life - due to the capacity of the alcoholic
to find justification for about anything - a sponsor can
bring up through sharing - many various moral weaknesses
which need attention in their life and can smooth the
way for the alcoholic to examine them in a frank fashion.
The next step suggests that someone is helping with step
#4 - since it reads as follows:
Step #5 - "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another
human being, the exact NATURE of our wrongs."
We put ourselves on record and leave no options or reservations!
Note that it states, NATURE of our wrongs - not the wrongs
themselves! We are not required to narrate details of
our many indiscretions. Many of them we don't even remember,
nor are conscious of. This is not a laundry for dirty
linen; this is recognition of character defects, which
need elimination or adjustments!
Step #6 - "Were entirely ready to have God remove ALL
these defects of character."
step allows for no reservations. The alcoholic, being
an extremist must go the whole route. We are not a bit
ready, or about to be ready, but entirely ready to
have God, not us, remove ALL these defects of character,
(the interesting ones as well as the more damnable ones!).
Step #7 - "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
We tried to make no deal, as we did in the past when situations
would overwhelm us. It was common to say - "Dear God,
get me out of this mess and I will be a good boy (or girl),
I will not do thus and such, etc., etc., etc., NONE
OF THAT! We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
The Good Book assures us that anything we ask believing,
we shall receive!
Step #8 - Begins our phase #3 - that of restitution. So
now we have admission in Step #1, Submission, Steps #2
through #7. Now for the Restitution in Steps #8 and #9.
Step #8 - "Made a list of all persons we had harmed
and became willing to make amends to them all.
Steps 8 and 9 should also be taken with the assistance
of a knowledgeable sponsor or a counselor, since in our
present state of impatience with almost complete lack
of judgment, we could conceivably cause much harm in executing
this phase of the program.
Most of us probably have persons on that list whom we
just do not want to have any contact with. The step states
plainly - ALL persons we had harmed! Obviously
some of these persons are not available, having passed
on, or disappeared etc., so we must ask God to handle
But step #9 states - "Made direct amends Whenever Possible
except when to do so would injure them or others."
We cannot and should not try to clear our slate or conscience
at the expense of any others. This phase is very important
and it eliminates the possibility of carrying over some
details into our new life that could consciously come
back to haunt or harm us in our new life. We are going
into a new life, and we should "Let the dead bury the
Now that we have taken 9 steps!!! We have concluded 3
phases of our program. These 9 steps we have accomplished
- so - FORGET THEM!!! They have required action
and you have taken the action, so there is no need of
repeating it! There are only two occasions when one must
refer back to the first nine steps, #1 - is in the event
that the person "resigns and resumes," obviously
they must start all over again! The other occasion when
we may refer to the first nine steps is when we are trying
to explain them to a new member and helping them with
So, now we have our last phase, that of Construction -
Steps 10 - 11 - and 12. With these steps, we construct
our life. These are our living steps. We no longer
must be concerned with 12 steps - ONLY 3 STEPS!! How
simple, how wonderful!!
Step #10 - "Continued to take personal inventory, and
when we were wrong, promptly admitted it."
step has absolutely no connection with step #4. Note,
in step #4, it calls for a searching and fearless Moral
inventory. This step calls for a personal inventory. This
step is our daily check on ourselves. This is our check
on the small and large and otherwise details of my life
TODAY. My simple way of handling step 10 may help
someone, since I find that it is most adequate for me,
and I prefer to keep things simple and uncomplicated.
At night, after I am in bed, my day is over; I find this
is one of my most important prayer times. I think about
my day, what have I done, whom I have been with, what
has transpired. Sometimes I find that I am not proud of
something I have done today, and I owe someone an apology,
I do not permit these things to go unattended. I have
found that it is not the so-called "big" things which
seriously affect the alcoholic in their new life, but
the "little" things. They can go on and on and add up
and become a real burden and eventually have drastic effects
upon our new life. This is the reason for step 10, keep
things "cleaned up," keep the walk swept! Maintain
a good healthy attitude.
Step #11 - "Sought through Prayer and Meditation, to
improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for
knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that
This is a great step, first, because it brings us into
a prayer life. Back in step #3, we made a decision to
turn our life and will over to the care of God. In step
#11, we receive our orders!! Let us break this step down
and discover how it is both simple and profound. We are
seeking something, seeking to improve our conscious contact
with God. What does that mean? To me it means He is not
in the far blue yonder, beyond reach, but right here,
close where I can talk to Him and listen to Him (the Bible
states that He is closer than hands and feet, and that
is most close!). So, I am seeking to make this contact
through Prayer and Meditation. What does this mean? To
me, Prayer is talking to God, and Meditation is listening
to Him! The good Lord endowed us with one mouth and two
ears, which should suggest something to us!! We are enjoined
- "Be Still" - and that is how we should be while
listening! The answers surely will come if we but listen.
Now, the step tells us what to pray for.
for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry
that out." Since we submitted ourselves and turned
our will and life over to the care of God in phase #2
- now we ask for His orders and strength to carry them
out. We are promised that He will never expect anything
from us that He won't give us the power to execute.
Now then, do you see any place in the step thus far to
suggest we pray for sobriety? Of course not, and it is
absolutely unnecessary - you HAVE sobriety. Thank Him
for it - but it is pointless to pray for what you
already have. The 11th step states very plainly how
to pray and what to pray for!!
Step #12 - We have experienced 11 steps and something
has happened to us. In fact, something happened at the
end of step 9!
Step 12 states very plainly - "Having had a Spiritual
Experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry
this message to other Alcoholics and to practice these
principles in ALL of our affairs."
What is a Spiritual Experience? That is the changed
life we have been referring to. That is the change
that comes to a person who has turned their will over
to the care of God and continues to try and improve themselves,
mentally, morally and spiritually. It states that we try
to carry this message (not the alcoholic) to alcoholics.
We practice these principles of love and service in all
our affairs. Not just in A.A. meetings and associations,
at home, at business, everywhere! What a blessing
this fellowship is. What a great opportunity to love and
be loved. Why cheat yourself? We have the prescription,
the means of getting well, staying well, growing and best
of all, SERVING. Come on in, the water's fine!!
Friends are wonderful, the fellowship is distinct and
GOD IS GREAT!!
[This was transcribed from Clarence's handwritten copy.]