article is written by nationally recognized historian
and oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell
research continues with the study of A.A.'s History, we
are going to make a slight departure from our series.
The following is an Editorial from the Cleveland, Ohio
Central Bulletin dated December, 1942.
Central Bulletin was A.A.'s first newsletter and according
to many A.A. Historians, contained some of the best early
writing relating to recovery from alcoholism. This Editorial,
one of a series on the Twelve Steps, is about the First
Vol. l - No. 3 -- December 1942
we became members of A.A., we admitted that we were powerless
over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.
was the most important step in our getting dry. We had
to admit to ourselves that we were alcoholics. We had
to recognize that all our efforts to control our use of
alcohol had failed. We had to recognize that our periodic
spells of not drinking had not given us the ability to
control the use of alcohol. We had to recognize that we
could make our lives manageable only when we had given
up alcohol entirely.
are tricky. They are the result of years of doing some
thing under certain conditions. They have associations
that we often are not aware of, which tend to lead us
back to the path of that habit despite our efforts. The
Devil within us is the prompting of our nerves, which
leads us either to act without thinking or to think up
excuses for denying the lessons we have learned.
single act of confession that made us dry is not enough
to keep us dry. The Devil within us prompts us anew in
many mysterious ways. The habit that prompts us is an
unconscious body yearning, which calls now and then for
that "one little drink" that will line up the
tracks for twenty drinks and a blackout.
stay dry we have to continue to recognize that we can
escape alcoholism only by not drinking.
have been enough of us in the seven and a half years of
A.A. who have been tempted to believe that through A.A.
one could regain control over alcohol. The experiences
of those thus tempted have been tragic.
men have had difficulty at the start, because they never
really admitted that they were powerless over alcohol.
They had a mental reservation. They kept debating with
themselves and finally reached the wrong answer.
some men get into difficulty long after they think that
their troubles are over. They work hard. They pray. They
attend meetings and work with new candidates. But the
Devil of old habit, sleeping in the nerve cells, sneaks
up on them and begins to whisper that they have themselves
under control and it would be all right to take a drink
now and then.
a man tells himself "I know I can take a drink right
now and nothing will happen," his old habits and
body yearnings are prompting him to think dangerous thoughts.
is the seed of disaster. Call the roll of those you know
who have had to have this bitter experience of learning
all over again that they were powerless over alcohol.
Respecter of Geography
too, how some members sometimes get the notion that because
they have gone off to another city that the rules no longer
apply. They couldn't drink in Cleveland, but they think
it would be all right in New York or Chicago or Detroit
or Akron! Of course we are just as powerless away from
home as at home. Devil habit may prompt us to forget that
first lesson and may whisper in our ear that "no
one will know!" Well, call the roll, here too.
Wherever we are and regardless of the passage of time,
we are alcoholics. We are powerless over alcohol. We cannot
use alcohol and successfully manage our lives.
learned that painfully. But our whiskey-hungry nerve cells
have sly ways of working on the mind. If we yield, disaster
first step is important always: at the beginning, after
the passage of time; at home and away from home. We are
powerless over alcohol.
will be revealed