Posted in Sharing

Twelve Warnings

The book Alcoholics Anonymous contains a series of propositions and proposals, the successful outcome of these depends upon the actions of the reader.

The book directs us as to what we must start doing, what we must stop doing, what happens when we fulfill the propositions and proposals and what will happen if we fail to fulfill them.

These are the Twelve Warnings as to what will happen if we fail to heed the directions.

  1. For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. (p14)
  2. The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. (p17)
  3. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness, we must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. (p62)
  4. Though our decision (Step 3) was a vital and crucial Step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face and be rid of, the things in our lives which had been blocking us. (p64)
  5. It is plain that a life, which includes deep resentment, leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and with us to drink is to die. (p66)
  6. Concerning sex. Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? Some people tell us so. But this is only a half-truth. It depends on us and our motives. If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned a lesson. If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts about our experience. (p70)
  7. If we skip this vital Step (5), we may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. (p.72)
  8. We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them. (p78)
  9. We feel that a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. (p.82)
  10. It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. (p.85)
  11. Our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties. To a person who has had experience with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting Providence , but it isn’t. You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, “Have I a good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places?” If you have answered these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead! (p.101)
  12. The head of the house ought to remember that he is mainly to blame for what befell his home. He can scarcely square the account in his lifetime. But he must see the danger of over-concentration on financial success. Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first. For us, material well-being always followed spiritual progress, it never preceded. (p127)
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Chuck C.’s Testimony Before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee

Chuck C., a well-known early AA member in California, testified before the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Subcommittee in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 27, 1969. This is his testimony which has been copied from the official hearing records:

Present: Senators Hughes, (presiding), Dominick, and Saxbe [members of the Subcommittee]. Also present: Senators Cranston and Murphy [both Senators from California].

* * * * * * * *

[Page 150]

Senator Hughes. For the next witness, I want no television, no pictures taken of the witness at all, because it’s the witness’s desire there be none. Once before a witness’s anonymity was broken before this subcommittee, so I’ll ask all members of the press, radio, and television please to respect the identity of this man and no photographs. He can state his own preferences about what he says.


Mr. Chuck C.: Thank you, Senator Hughes. It is a privilege for me to come with you this morning. I feel rather like a fifth wheel, because the things have been pretty well covered already: But I appear in a little different capacity than any of the others this morning, because I am Chuck C. and I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, applied to my own life, I have not had a drink or a sedating or tranquilizing pill since January of 1946, for which I am very grateful.

Now, we in Alcoholics Anonymous think that alcoholism is a disease. You have heard it spoken of this morning several times as such. I think informed medical opinion throughout the country recognizes it as a disease. It is defined as a disease of twofold nature, an allergy of the body coupled with an obsession of the mind.

However, most of us, or many of us, think that there is a third factor. We think it is a living problem. We do not deny the allergy of the body or the obsession of the mind. I had them both. I tried for the last ten years of a 25-year drinking career to prove that I did not have an allergy of the body or obsession of the mind. However, I knew nothing about them because I knew nothing about the disease of alcoholism. I tried to beat this thing myself for the last 10 years of a 25-year drinking career; and I proved to myself conclusively that I do have both the allergy and the obsession.

Now with 24 years of sobriety, 25 years of drinking, and the time before I drank to look at, I believe that our problem is primarily a living problem, and that alcohol is pretty much a symbol of it or a symptom of it.

For instance, I never had a drink until I was out of athletics. I was an athlete in my youth. I was always in training and I never smoked and never drank until I was out of school and out of athletics. When I took my first drink it was not a problem. It was an answer — providing that the problem was already with me. If I had not already had the problem I would not have needed an answer. I used alcohol as an answer for 15 years. But being the wrong answer, it finally turned on me and beat me to death making it necessary for me to find the right answer and, of course, it came through my association with drunks in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Now, we feel that the medical approach and psychological approach, and the religious approach are all good. We feel that all approaches to this disease should be brought to bear upon it, but most of us are convinced that if we are going to get rid of the bottle we have to replace it with something better, with a state of being that makes drinking unnecessary.

For instance, why am I not drunk this morning? I am an alcoholic. I am an alcoholic of the tongue chewing, babbling, idiot variety: so why am I not drunk this morning? Because I have the thing I was looking for in the bottle. And what is the thing? It is a state of being that makes drinking absolutely unnecessary. There is nothing that a drink or a sedating or tranquilizing pill or needle can do for me but tear me down; therefore, there is no necessity for it at all. It cannot do anything for me. I have the answer that I was looking for.

Now, we have been in existence as Alcoholic Anonymous for 34 years. We have a membership of perhaps some 500,000 but we see that is just a slight percentage, it may be 2 percent, of the problem drinkers. And that is all we have been able to accomplish in 34 years. But we are not selling it short. We love it, but much more has to be done.

We think that before long it might be the legal opinion that they cannot throw us in jail any more just for being a drunk, that we have to be taken care of as sick people. And it looks as though there will have to be detoxification enters and halfway houses throughout the country.

And it is going to take a lot of money. It is going to take a lot of know-how. We are very pleased about the fact that there is a separate committee now that is very much interested in this problem and that it is manned by knowledgeable people. We think that perhaps through the medium of these meetings throughout the country more interest will be brought to bear on the Senate as a whole and that as a result you will get appropriations which will make it possible for you to do some things — such as setting up these detoxification centers and halfway houses.

In this event what would be the position of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Traditionally we neither endorse or oppose any causes. We cooperate but we do not affiliate. We are on tap in most of these things, but never on top. So, I think our position would be this: That when the detoxification has been accomplished, that we would, as individual members of Alcoholic Anonymous, then be available to share our experience, strength and hope with those who are coming through the halfway houses. And it is from this angle that I think that it would be of the greatest benefit to your program. We cannot take an active part as a society, but we can take an active part as individuals.

Senator Hughes: Sir, would you mind me interrupting you for a moment as you go along? I would like to ask a question for the record. I have received a lot of mail from people who know nothing about Alcoholics Anonymous wondering why we do not appropriate money to Alcoholics Anonymous to handle the job since they obviously do pretty well. Would you like to reply to that?

Mr. Chuck C.: We also have the tradition that we are self-supporting. We do not take any moneys from any outside sources whatsoever. We support ourselves through our own contributions. We have no paid teachers or speakers. We do this work on a voluntary basis. And I would like to throw this in for the record, also, that I suspect that in the last 23 years half of my waking time has been spent working with alcoholics throughout this country and Canada and in many of the other countries. And I find it a very fascinating and rewarding experience – I think that is what you wanted.

A very interesting fact has been brought out already: When I came to the program the average age probably would have been 45. I do not think it would have been less than that. It might have been nearer 50. But over the years the age has come down, down, down, until today the face of Alcoholics Anonymous has changed considerably. They are coming to us much younger.

For instance, we have a man in our own group in Laguna Beach who had his first birthday in Alcoholics Anonymous before his eighteenth birthday. We find this is true pretty much throughout the country. Brought about through better educational programs such as the Committee on Alcoholism for instance, and things of that kind. People are coming to us much, much younger than in my day and that is a very good sign.

One of the things that I would like very much to speak on for a minute (and this certainly is my own opinion), we have heard a little about the seriousness of the problem. And, of course, the problem is serious. I suspect it is the most serious problem that we face in our country today. And I know that if we put pills with it it would be by far and away the most serious problem that affects our society today.

But it is my opinion that the individual alcoholic cannot be dealt with seriously. Let me give you an example. I was sitting in Edmonton, Canada, at a banquet and I had six judges around me, and they were saying to me, “We only have so many dollars and so many days and that’s the only thing we can put out. We know that isn’t the answer, but how can we help you; what can we do to help you?” And I said, “Well, do not sell yourselves short with so many dollars and so many days, because you and the highway patrolmen probably are responsible for my life, because you have taken me off the street at times when I was a great danger to anybody who was there, including myself. So, do not sell yourselves short with so many dollars and so many days.

But perhaps the one thing that you could cut out could be the lecture that you give. When you sentence us, do not give us that lecture, because we cannot take it. We have given the same lecture to ourselves many, many times, so instead of giving us a lecture, as we go by you poke us in the ribs with your elbow and say, “Look, dad, when you are sick enough of being sick, and tired enough of being tired, I know a place you can go for an answer.” And laugh right in our teeth; because we can understand that, but we cannot take the preachment or the lectures.

So, indeed, in A.A. we have a lot of fun. I find it the most fascinating thing that has ever crossed my path. I love it. I happen to have hated alcoholics worse than anybody in the world. As a matter of fact, when I ran out of time I did not care for the human race. I thought it was a cosmic mistake. I did not even like the good people and the drunks I hated. Because I was a drunk and hated myself. I hated all drunks. In the last 24 years, however, I have come to the place where I think I love all of God’s children, and of all of them I love the drunks the most. So, my dedication, my love, and my life, are in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, working with drunks.

And, again, we are most happy that you, all of you, are headed in the direction in which you’re headed. And we want to help as much as it is humanly possible for us to help, both in seeing to it that you get an appropriation – maybe by doing a little work on the rest of the Senate by letters, and so forth – and also by being on tap when you need to call on us later on.

And that would be all I have to say.

Senator Hughes: Thank you very much, Chuck. I would like to point out that the camera in the back of the room was not taking pictures.

I would like to ask you, just for the record, to explain that fact when you say you want to be of help. I happen to have been visiting a lot of halfway houses around the country and in all of them I found Alcoholics Anonymous is a stable working factor within the halfway house. You point out, of course, that you accept no money, and all of this is on a voluntary basis. I take it then, that should appropriations someday be made, whether it is on a sharing basis with States or communities and the Federal Government, that all these members of A.A. will be around and will be working with the people who come into these facilities. Is that right?

Mr. Chuck C.: That would be a fair statement, I am quite certain Individual members of the society can and do work as counselors and are paid for it in industry and other places. But, in the main, I think that most of the effective work in all the hospitals, in all the penitentiaries, and in many of the halfway houses that we have throughout the country today, is and will be on a voluntary basis by individual members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Senator Hughes: Could you, perhaps, elaborate just a little bit on the changes you have seen in these 24 years in hospital treatment of patients and doctor’s treatment of patients? Have you seen any changes?

Mr. Chuck C.: There has been great change, of course. In my last 10 years of drinking, I went to all the recognized sources for help. I went to the clergy, to men of medicine and to a few people who knew more psychiatry than there is. And my answer from all of them was willpower, backbone, and stand-up-and-be-a man.

I never heard of the disease of alcoholism until I came to my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Today this is common knowledge now amongst all informed, all who want to be informed about this subject.

It is only recently that we have been able to get alcoholics into most hospitals. There are beds for us in most of them now and this was not the case for a long, long time. Everything has changed for the better. It is not fast enough, but it has changed for the better over the years.

Again, due, I think, not only to what we have done in Alcoholics Anonymous, but to the great educational programs of such organizations as the National Committee on Alcoholism.

Senator Hughes: I would like to ask you a question and answer it any way you see fit. Why the word, “anonymous” Why do alcoholics want to remain anonymous?

Mr. Chuck C.: There are many reasons for it. But the two great reasons – the fundamental reasons, I believe, are these: There is a little verse in the Good Book that says, “Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth,” and this is probably the first time in our lives that we have ever been willing to do things like getting up in the middle of the night and going clear across town, at our own expense, to a dark room with an alcoholic who is really suffering. It is the first time in our lives we have been willing to do these things free – maybe even hoping that nobody will ever find out about it.

And the second reason is that as long as we are anonymous people can come to us without feeling that they are going to have their problems become general knowledge. And people will come to us with problems when they will not go to anybody else, because they do not want it known that they have this problem.

Senator Hughes: Why don’t they?

Mr. Chuck C.: It is a holdover from the days when the only descriptive adjectives used for people like me were bums, spineless people, dregs of society, a cancer on the social body, and all that sort of thing.

Senator Hughes: The great stigma.

Mr. Chuck C.: Yes, it was a great stigma, but this is changing much for the better.

Senator Hughes: Senator Dominick?

Senator Dominick: I just first want to say it is highly refreshing, Chuck, to find a group of people who are not asking for appropriations from the Federal Government. [Audience laughter.]

May I congratulate you and your group, of which I have a fair knowledge because of my association with people afflicted with the problem.

I want to get back to this treatment center and halfway house. I am sure that there must be some method of detoxification, but I also – only based on my own experience, and you have got a lot more than I have – have grave doubts whether detoxification, in fact, does the job. A lot of people go and get dried out. This is a kind of social phenomena, particularly in the East. You go and get dried out and then go out and start all over again.

Questions will be raised in the subcommittee and later on the Senate floor as we move forward. Senators will ask: “What good does it do? Isn’t there an organization which is doing a lot better than this voluntarily? Is a treatment center, in fact, going to be more than just a way station for drying out to give them strength to start in all over again? And will a halfway house follow enough of a detoxification process to be able to bring people back into the mainstream, particularly those who don’t particularly want to, and how large a proportion of the ones that we have that are afflicted with this disease really want to recover; really want to admit to themselves that they’re an alcoholic and that they can’t take that first drink?”

I do not have any facts and figures. I know we are going to develop some as we go along in these hearings, but I’d just like to get your comments on this, which I think is a very grave communication problem that we’ve got.

Mr. Chuck C.: This is the reason I spoke of the detoxification centers and halfway houses.

Senator Dominick: I notice that you couple them together all the time.

Mr. Chuck C.: I think that the detoxification center is where the professional people can get us defogged so that we may hear what is said to us. And then the great rehabilitation work starts.

For instance, in Alcoholic Anonymous, we have nothing in our program that tells a person how to get sober, how to get physically sober. There is nothing in the book that tells you how to do that.

But we, as members of Alcoholics Anonymous, help each other get sober. It is a great part of our work and we would not change it. We help each other get sober only that we might then take care of our problem – which is alcoholism; but before we can talk about the problem itself, we have got to get people so they can hear. And so, they are detoxified, or gotten sober and then we talk with them. In our work we talk with them mainly in their homes or in ours. But, again, the job is too great for that.

And we are going to have the problem dumped in our laps whether we like it or not, because one of these days we are not going to have any place to put drunks if we do not have detoxification centers and halfway houses; because we are not going to take them to jail. (If you go back prior to 24 years ago you can find me all over the blotter of this town. I was no respecter of jails. I went to all of them.) So, we are going to have to have places where we get sober and then we are going to have to have therapy that comes not only from members of Alcoholic Anonymous but from professional people like psychiatrists.

Now this thing is seemingly proven in our work. Any alcoholic who sits through an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, leaves knowing the answer is there – whether or not he admits that he has a problem.

Now, he might say to himself. “Well, I’m not one of these people. I have not gone to this extent. Therefore, I’m not an alcoholic.” But he knows, before he leaves that meeting, that the answer’s in the room for an alcoholic and maybe many years later when he runs out of time he remembers and comes back, and he is not lost.

So, I believe that no one, no alcoholic, regardless of whether he has admitted it or not, who is exposed to this therapy about which we are talking, leaves with any questions in his mind. I think he knows immediately that the answer is in the room.

Does that help you any?

Senator Dominick.: Yes, I think it does with respect to the Alcoholics Anonymous. My problem is trying to get the people that I have known to go to you.

Mr. Chuck C.: Yes —

Senator Dominick: You know, they just say, “No. No, I do not want to do that. I want to drink.”

Mr. Chuck C.: But we have it. We have it in the setup that we are talking about. They are going to be sent to these detoxification centers. But they are going to be sent there by the court or by the police instead of being sent to jail. They will have to go through that. But to a large extent they will have to go to the halfway houses once they are set up.

Senator Dominick.: That program has worked; that is what I want to know?

Mr. Chuck C.: Yes.

Senator Dominick: Where they say you go there, or you go to jail?

Mr. Chuck C.: Very definitely. I happen to be very familiar with Judge Harrison’s work up in Des Moines. But I believe Judge Taft in Santa Monica was one of the first to use this approach many, many years ago.

And I have talked at meetings where there were over a hundred men and women who had been sober a year or more who had initially been sentenced to the program by Judge Taft and it worked.

Senator Dominick: Let’s use another word. Let’s say recommended.

Mr. Chuck C.: Recommended. Okay. (audience laughter).

Senator Hughes: Don’t stop. I just wanted to make a comment. Senator Dominick, my limited experience with this has been that some of the time the private institutions for detoxification are rather protected and they are not really exposed when they are dried out.

Also, we see right now in Washington, D.C., for example, the detoxification center which was originally set up for 5 days of detoxification and then building into the therapy. Now they’re down to 24 hours because of the crush of patients.

The court is sending the patients there. They have no bed space. Their unit of 800 beds over at Lorton is completely filled with the so-called recovery part. The physical part of the detoxification stage has been taken care of, unless there is serious complications. You’re right, it’s got so easy that in many instances the guy who runs through the mill to be detoxified feels great again and he’s ready to go. So often there is no follow up. It can serve as a revolving door drying out process.

Excuse my interruption.

Senator Dominick: That’s all I have.

Senator Hughes: Senator Saxbe?

Senator Saxbe: Well, I want to compliment you for not only coming, but also for the great work you are doing. I’m familiar with it. I’ve dealt with Alcoholics Anonymous in working with friends and acquaintances. I’ve always been amazed at the dedication and willingness of members to turn out at 3, 4 o’clock in the morning to drive somebody a hundred miles and to stay with them at great personal sacrifice perhaps to their own jobs and business; and seemingly to stick with them, even when their own families have abandoned them. This dedication has paid off.

Oh, I’ve known some cases where it hasn’t worked, but in many cases it’s been a successful salvage job. I think if just somehow we can get this same kind of dedication into a public facility, it would certainly simplify the work of the political subdivision in meeting this problem.

Thank you very much.

Senator Hughes: Chuck, I want to thank you very much for coming forward and sharing with us your thoughts and ideas on what we might do, and your hopes, also. I especially thank you for your support as we get to a point of trying legislation.

Mr. Chuck C.: Thank you.

Posted in Sharing

“A.A. doesn’t work” they say…

One of the saddest statements I have ever heard is, “I’ve been to A.A. and it doesn’t work.” There is no way I can count the number of times over the past couple of decades I have found an alcoholic coming off a drunk who made that statement. Just today, one of my protégés called to tell me of a man, holed up in a cheap motel room, he was asked to locate and see if he could help him.

My protégé was successful in locating the suffering alcoholic and did what he had been instructed to do on a Twelve Step call. He told him some of the story of his drinking and how he had come to know it to be an illness over which he had no control nor did the medical profession have a solution.

The suffering alcoholic finally said, “You’re going to try to tell me about A.A. aren’t you?” Jake said, “That is where I found my solution. “The sick one said, “I have gone to A.A. meetings for the last eight 8 months and did what they told me to do. It doesn’t work for me.”

Jake asked, “Did you take the Steps with a sponsor who had been blessed with a spiritual experience as the result of having taken the Steps?” The sick one said, “I think I did but the main thing they told me was just keep coming back and you’ll be OK. When I asked what else I should do, I was told, Don’t drink and keep on going to more meetings. I did what they told me to do and A.A. just doesn’t work.”

A member of Alcoholics Anonymous found me near death in 1964 and told me he could help me. He said to me, “I understand. I have been where you are and I want to help you if you will let me.” I was willing to do anything. He took me to his A.A. club and began sobering me up on orange juice with some honey mixed in it. When I began having delirium tremens, they added some Bay Rum to the mixture. There were no treatment centers in our area at that time and hospitals would not admit us for alcoholism. We either shook and sweat it out in jail or at an A.A. club. By far, most of them made it to the end sober or they still are. I wasn’t one of them. I saw an opportunity to return my ego to its earlier level by getting involved in a new and exciting profession and so I went for it. Sixteen years after my last drink; 11 years after my last meeting, on a day without a cloud in the sky, I thought having a beer would be a good idea, so being in a very dry county, I drove 70 miles for a six-pack. It took me 2 years to make it back to Alcoholics Anonymous very, very drunk.

But what a difference 13 years can make! There were no alcoholics laying around the club with dry heaves. There were no blood shot eyes, sweating faces, no vibrating bodies, the aroma of alcoholism was missing. There was no orange juice in the refrigerator nor honey near the coffee pot. There was no Bay Rum in the file cabinet. It was no longer needed because almost everyone had gone to treatment and been medicated through the process of what is termed de-tox. They had missed those wonderful golden moments of the misery, suffering and pain of sobering up. At first, I thought the new approach was good but then I began to see the results. There was less and less commitment to the group and the action necessary for long term emotional sobriety was being ignored.

There were very few Big Book study or speaker meetings but a large number of discussion/participation meetings where everyone was given an opportunity to talk about whatever was on their mind whether on not they knew anything about alcoholism or recovery from alcoholism. There were even non-alcoholics participating in these meetings. This newer approach of learning to live with alcoholism was beginning to prove to be a dismal failure.

I heard a tape of Joe McQ. and later attended a weekend of Joe McQ. and Charlie P. presenting their Big Book Comes Alive program. It then became very clear why so many were returning to the bottle. Not only were we without sick alcoholics laying around the meeting places, there was so little program in our meetings, it was almost hidden from the newcomers. No wonder so few were finding more than a few months of physical sobriety. They were denied what is required for long term emotional sobriety.

Without the sick alcoholics laying round the meeting place, I had to find a place where I could again see and smell alcoholism. I needed a frequent reminder of where I came from and what was waiting for me if I didn‘t continue to pay the price for emotional sobriety. Over the years since I have been blessed to have been given another opportunity to survive the deadliest disease known to mankind, I have volunteered in many wind-up places where those coming off a drunk are present and available to talk with. Again and again, I heard that sickening statement, “I went to A.A. and it doesn’t work.”

Of course, they are right. Alcoholics Anonymous does not work! We must work it! But they were not told the truth. My basic text reads, “Rarely, have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path” The path being the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as outlined in a book titled Alcoholics Anonymous. My basic text does not read, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of don’t drink and go to meetings.” It reads, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Our real problem is ego driven sponsorship with very little if any real concern for the welfare of the newcomer. Proclaimed members of our fellowship who have never taken the Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous will assume the responsibility for the life of a newcomer and will proudly announce the number of sponsees they have. As one of my dear friends said, “The manner in which we now fail our responsibility to the newcomer borders on slaughter.” The demise of our sense of responsibility to those seeking help for alcoholism is one of the greatest tragedies of our time in history. It works only if we work it (working all 12 Steps, meetings/fellowship, and being of service expecting nothing in return)!

Cliff B.

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The Twelve Steps to a Slip

PERSONS who attain sobriety through the A.A. principles, do so only after a thoughtful application of the 12 Suggested Steps to recovery. They happily find themselves on a level plateau of sanity after ascending these steps, one after another, and they maintain their sobriety by a continuing application of these same steps.

Those unfortunates who lose their sobriety are said to be having a “slip”. I believe this is a misnomer, for it suggests only a momentary adversity that unexpectedly pounces on its unwary victim. A more apt term would be a “glissade,” for a slip is the result of a gradual process, beginning long before its logical termination, and progressing through a series of wrong steps, to a drink, and for us, a drunk.

A slip cannot be said to occur only when it culminates in a drink, for many of us, in our failure to apply the 12 Steps to our living, frequently have slips, which are none the less slips merely because we do not slip as far as a drink.

As one must ascend the 12 Steps gradually, I feel the “slip” is the result of unconsciously descending these Steps. And as descending steps is always accompanied with less effort than ascending them, the steps soon assume the behavior of an escalator.

As the “bottom” is reached it invariably results in taking that “one drink,” which leads, for us, only to all the remorse, terror and unhappiness that follows a binge.

These, then, are in my opinion the “12 Steps to a slip,” and are the direct result of failure to consciously apply to our lives the 12 Suggested Steps to recovery:

  1. We neglect 12th Step work.
  2. We omit contact with the Higher Power.
  3. We forget personal inventory.
  4. We assume grudges against others.
  5. We miss A.A. meetings, and avoid A.A. friends.
  6. We gradually lose humility.
  7. We fall into self pity.
  8. We worry about unalterables.
  9. Our thinkin’ really starts stinkin’.
  10. We become “cocky” and overconfident.
  11. We neglect to ask help from the Higher Power, and take “just one.”
  12. We become a “social drinker.” (Temporarily.)

R. H. Dunkirk, Indiana
Jan. 1949, Grapevine

Posted in Sharing


                What does Sobriety mean to me? It means for the first time in 15 years having true freedom. Freedom from the bottle that enslaved me. Freedom from not being able to handle everyday life.  Freedom from feeling the need to control every aspect of my life but still failing at that. Freedom from misery. Freedom from hating myself.

                Being Sober has given my life back. I was enslaved by my need to drink. I would wake up everyday looking forward to the next time I was going to put the poison back in my body. It was the only time I ever felt like I was my true self. It was the only time I ever felt like not being in control was acceptable.

                I was not able to deal with ordinary things daily. One small thing would happen that was out of my control and that would make me want to drink. Not being in control was a problem for me. However, I found a solution to that problem, which was the bottle. The bottle did not give me any control, but it allowed me to not care if I was in control.

                Drinking was the only time that I could not look in the mirror and think about how much of a piece of shit I was. It allowed me to become loose and not care about anything, for a while. But eventually that quit working too. At that point I hated myself and was destroying my body. I would have the shakes for days after a bad bender, but I knew I could turn back to my tried and faithful solution, my good pal Jack and Stolichnaya.

                Being Sober means, I am no longer controlled by my impulses and my everyday need to avoid my problems. It means that I am willing to let God be in control. It means I can turn to my higher power, when things are out of my control and know that I can handle anything with his help. Sobriety means I am able to be an asset to my family.

                I can now wake up for the first time in 15 years looking forward to my day. I no longer require the poison which guided my life because God is now guiding my life. I look in the mirror and I see value. I see someone who has experienced amazing things in life and has a lot to offer others. I love myself and I love having a spiritual toolkit to approach life.

                Sobriety is true freedom. It is a spiritual way of life that allows me to a temporary reprieve from the need to drink.

Dustin S. – Early Sobriety Group