1938 Original Manuscript for 1939 1st Edition BigBook Searchable 1976 3rd Edition BigBook On-Line
The Prescription
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Alcoholics Anonymous Is Not A Self-Help Program

For years we have heard that AA is a "self-help" program. I presume because Recovery books are found in the self-help section at bookstores.

If we could have "Self-Helped" we would have done so long before we got to A.A. - and some of us still try to "Self-Help" after we do get to A.A. - And that is for sure!!!

A.A. is a "Spiritual-Help from our Higher Power Program" ... but we have to do our part by living the Steps to the best of our ability! That is about all the "Self-Helping" we can do, and we can't even do that without the "Spiritual-Help" of our Higher Power.

What does AA have to say about it? I went to the Big Book and this is what I found:

xvi:2- But when the broker (Bill W.) gave him Dr. Silkworth's description of alcoholism and its hopelessness, the physician (Dr. Bob) began to pursue the spiritual remedy for his malady with a willingness he had never before been able to muster. He sobered, never to drink again up to the moment of his death in 1950.

xxiv:4- Though we work out our solution on the spiritual as well as an altruistic plane, we favor hospitalization for the alcoholic who is very jittery or befogged.

xxv:6- They believe in themselves, and still more in the Power which pulls chronic alcoholics back from the gates of death.

xxvi:2- In nearly all cases, their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives.

xxvii:3- One feels that something more than human power is needed to produce the essential psychic change.

11:3- But my friend sat before me, and he made the pointblank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself. His human will had failed.

13:2- There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost.

13:2- I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend (God) take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since.

13:4- I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet my problems as He would have me.

13:5- My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems. Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements

14:1- I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all.

14:6- 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.

24:4- When this sort of thinking is fully established in an individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably placed himself beyond human aid, and unless locked up, may die or go permanently insane.

25:1- When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.

25:2- The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.

25:3- If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help.

27:5- ...while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience.

28:2- We, in our turn , sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proven to be the loving and powerful hand of God.

29:2- Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God.

43:2- As to two of you men, whose stories I have heard, there is no doubt in my mind that you were 100% hopeless, apart from divine help.

43:3- Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.

44:1- If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.

45:0 & 1- We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly.

Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously.

45:2- Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.

50:3- On one proposition, however, these men and women are strikingly agreed. Every one of them has gained access to, and believes in, a Power greater than himself. This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible.

56:5- Thus was our friend's cornerstone fixed in place. No later vicissitude has shaken it. His alcoholic problem was taken away. That very night, years ago, it disappeared. Save for a few brief moments of temptation the thought of drink has never returned; and at such times a great revulsion has risen up in him. Seemingly he could not drink even if he would. God had restored his sanity. 57:2- Even so has God restored us all to our right minds.

58:4- 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!

59:4- 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

59:4- 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

59:4- 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

60:3- (b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

60:3- (c) That God could and would if He were sought.

62:2- So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God's help.

63:2- Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Your Will.

66:4- How could we escape? We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than alcohol....

66:5- We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick to. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, "This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy Will be done."

67:1- We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kind and tolerant view of each and every one.

68:2- Perhaps there is a better way - we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.

68:3- All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do.

68:3- We ask Him to remove our fears and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.

69:2- We asked God to mold our ideals and help us to live up to them.

70:1- 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 our lesson.

70:4- In this book you will read again and again that faith did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

71:0- We hope you are convinced now that God can remove whatever self-will has blocked you off from Him.

72:2- In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient.

76:1- Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all - every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.

76:2- "My Creator, I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do Your bidding. Amen.

79:1- Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be.

84:0- We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

84:2- Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. 85:0- We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought oe effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

85:1- 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. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's Will into all of our activities. "How can I best serve You - Your Will (not mine) be done." These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.

85:2- Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious.

86:2- On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct out thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

86:3- In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision.

87:1- We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems.

88:2- We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.

93:0- The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles.

98:1- The minute we put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God.

98:1- Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job - wife or no wife - we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.

98:2- Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust God and clean house.

99:3- Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God.

100:1 Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen.

100:4- Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do.

101:1- We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status.

102:0- Go or stay, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good.

102:2- Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed.

114:1- Since this book was first published, A.A. has released thousands of alcoholics from asylums and hospitals of every kind. The majority have never returned. The power of God goes deep!

116:2- We have elsewhere remarked how much better life is when lived on a spiritual plane. If God can solve the age-old riddle of alcoholism, He can solve your problems too.

116:3- But it was a silly idea that we were too good to need God. Now we try to put spiritual principles to work in every department of our lives. When we do that, we find it solves our problems too; the ensuing lack of fear, worry and hurt feelings is a wonderful thing.

117:0- We urge you to try our program, for nothing will be so helpful to your husband as the radically changed attitude toward him which God will show you how to have. 120:3- God has either removed your husband's liquor problem or He has not.

128:2- While grateful that he drinks no more, they may not like the idea that God has accomplished the miracle where they failed. They often forgot father was beyond human aid.

154:4- His sanity returned and he thanked God.

155:3- He saw that he would have to face his problems squarely that God might give him mastery.

164:1- Still you may say: "But I will not have the benefit of contact with you who write this book." We cannot be sure. God will determine that, so you must remember that your real reliance is always upon Him.

164:2- But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven't got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.

164:3- Abandon yourself to God as you understand God.

569:4- He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone.

569:4- What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline.

569:4- With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves

570:2- Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts.

Again -- If we could have "Self-Helped" we would have done so long before we got to A.A. - and some of us still try to "Self-Help" after we do get to A.A. - And that is for sure!!!

A.A. is a "Spiritual-Help from our Higher Power Program" ... but we have to do our part by living the Steps to the best of our ability! That is about all the "Self-Helping" we can do, and we can't even do that without the "Spiritual-Help" of our Higher Power.

Index of AA History Pages on Barefoot's Domain

As in so many things, especially with we alcoholics, our History is our Greatest Asset!.. We each arrived at the doors of AA with an intensive and lengthy "History of Things That Do Not Work" .. Today, In AA and In Recovery, Our History has added an intensive and lengthy "History of Things That DO Work!!" and We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it!!

ABC Page 60 from the Big Book



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