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(CLOSED)Living Sober Early Sunday
February 11th

When a newcomer is present, Link to Step-1 Reading: click here

Taken from the book "Living Sober" copyrighted by AA World Services, Inc. and reprinted with permission. 

Note: This booklet does not offer a plan for recovery from alcoholism. The Alcoholics Anonymous Steps that summarize its program of recovery are set forth in detail in the books Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Those Steps are not interpreted here, nor are the processes they cover discussed in this booklet. Here, we tell only some methods we have used for living without drinking. You are welcome to all of them, whether you are interested in Alcoholics Anonymous or not.

Reading Link:  


11th February

Trying the Twelve Steps

"When all else fails," said the old country doctor, "follow directions."
We have not talked about the Twelve Steps offered by AA as a pro¬gram of recovery from alcoholism, and they are not going to be listed or explained here, because anyone curious about them can find them elsewhere. Their origin is striking, however.
In 1935, two men met in Akron, Ohio. Both of them were then considered hopeless drunkards, which seemed shameful to those who had known them. One had been a Wall Street hot shot; the other, a noted surgeon; but both had drunk themselves almost to death. Each had tried many "cures" and been hospitalized over and over. It looked certain, even to them, that they were beyond help.
Almost accidentally, in getting to know each other, they stumbled onto an astonishing fact: When each of them tried to help the other, the result was sobriety. They took the idea to an alcoholic lawyer confined to a hospital bed, and he, too, decided to try it.
The three then kept on, each in his individual life, trying to help one alcoholic after another. If the people they tried to help sometimes did not want their aid, they nevertheless knew the effort was worthwhile, because, in each case, the would-be helper stayed sober even if the "patient" kept on drinking.
Persisting at this avocation for their own benefit, this nameless little band of ex-drunks suddenly realized in 1937 that 20 of them were sober! They cannot be blamed for thinking a miracle had happened.
They agreed they ought to write a record of what had happened, so their experience could be widely distributed. But, as you can imagine, they ran into real difficulty in reaching agreement on what precisely had taken place. It wasn't until 1939 that they were able to publish an account they could all subscribe to. By then, they numbered about 100.
They wrote that the pathway to recovery they had followed up to then consisted of twelve steps, and they believed anyone who followed that pathway would reach the same destination.
Their number has grown to more than two million. And they are virtually unanimous in their conviction: "Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail."
Many of us had long been booze-fighters. Time after time, we had stopped drinking and tried to stay stopped, only to return to drinking sooner or later and find ourselves in increasing trouble. But those Twelve Steps of AA mark our road to recovery. Now, we do not have to fight any more. And our path is open to all comers.
Hundreds of us had only a vague idea of what AA was before we actually came to this Fellowship. Now, we sometimes think there is more misinformation than truth about A.A. floating around. So if you have not looked into AA firsthand, we can imagine some of the distorted, false impressions you may have picked up, since we had so many of them ourselves.
Happily, you need not be misled by such misrepresentations and rumors, because it is perfectly easy to see and hear the real AA. for yourself. AA publications (see page 70) and any nearby AA office or meeting (see your local telephone directory) are original sources of facts which surprised many of us a whale of a lot. You need not take any second-hand opinions, because you can get the straight dope, free, and make up your own mind.
Really getting a fair picture of AA may be one instance in which willpower can be put to very good use. We know for sure that alcoholics do have tremendous willpower. Consider the ways we could manage to get a drink in defiance of all visible possibilities. Merely to get up some mornings—with a rusting cast-iron stomach, all your teeth wearing tiny sweaters, and each hair electrified—takes willpower many nondrinkers rarely dream of. Once you've gotten up with your head, on those certain mornings, the  ability to carry it all through the day is further evidence of fabulous strength of will. Oh yes, real drinkers have real willpower.
The trick we learned was to put that will to work for our health, and to make ourselves explore recovery ideas at great depth, even though it sometimes might have seemed like drudgery.
It may help if you try to remember that A.A. members are not eager to question you. We may not even seem to be listening to you much, but spend more time laying on you the unvarnished facts of our own illness. We are in pursuit of recovery, you know, so we talk to you very much for our own benefit. We want to help you, all right, but only if you want us to.
It may be that problem drinking is, indeed, as some psychological experts say, an ailment characterized especially by egocentricity. Not all alcoholics are egotistical, although many of us have learned to see that tendency in ourselves. Others of us felt inferior most of the time; we felt equal or superior to other people only when drinking.
No matter which type we were, we realize now that we were excessively self-centered, chiefly concerned about our feelings, our problems, other people's reactions to us, and our own past and future. Therefore, trying to get into communication with and to help other people is a recovery measure for us, because it helps take us out of our¬selves. Trying to heal ourselves by helping others works, even when it is an insincere gesture. Try it some time.
If you really listen to (not just hear) what is being said, you may find the person talking has quietly slipped inside your head and seems to be describing the landscape there—the shifting shapes of nameless fears, the color and chill of impending doom—if not the actual events and words stored in your brain.
And whether this happens or not, you will almost surely have a good laugh or two in the company of AA's, and you'll probably pick up a couple of ideas on living sober. If you want to use them, that is up to you.
Whatever you decide to do, remember that making these ideas available is one of the steps toward recovery for us.      

End of Reading

Taken from the book "Living Sober" copyrighted by AA World Services, Inc. and reprinted with permission. 


for  11th February

Step One

"Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions" copyrighted by AA World Services, Inc. and  reprinted with permission.

 Step One

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become un­manageable.”

Who cares to admit complete defeat? Practically no one, of course. Every natural instinct cries out against the idea of personal powerlessness. It is truly awful to admit that, glass in hand, we have warped our minds into such an obses­sion for destructive drinking that only an act of Providence can remove it from us.

No other kind of bankruptcy is like this one. Alcohol, now become the rapacious creditor, bleeds us of all self-sufficiency and all will to resist its demands. Once this stark fact is accepted, our bankruptcy as going human concerns is complete.
But upon entering A.A. we soon take quite another view of this absolute humiliation. We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.

We know that little good can come to any alcoholic who joins A.A. unless he has first accepted his devastating weak­ness and all its consequences. Until he so humbles himself, his sobriety—if any—will be precarious. Of real happiness he will find none at all. Proved beyond doubt by an im­mense experience, this is one of the facts of A.A. life. The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our whole Society has sprung and flowered.
When first challenged to admit defeat, most of us re­volted. We had approached A.A. expecting to be taught self-confidence. Then we had been told that so far as alcohol is concerned, self-confidence was no good whatever; in fact, it was a total liability. Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it. There was, they said, no such thing as the personal conquest of this compulsion by the unaided will. Relentlessly deepening our dilemma, our sponsors pointed out our increasing sensi­tivity to alcohol—an allergy, they called it. The tyrant alcohol wielded a double-edged sword over us: first we were smitten by an insane urge that condemned us to go on drinking, and then by an allergy of the body that insured we would ultimately destroy ourselves in the process. Few indeed were those who, so assailed, had ever won through in singlehanded combat. It was a statistical fact that alco­holics almost never recovered on their own resources. And this had been true, apparently, ever since man had first crushed grapes.

In A.A.’s pioneering time, none but the most desperate cases could swallow and digest this unpalatable truth. Even these “last-gaspers” often had difficulty in realizing how hopeless they actually were. But a few did, and when these laid hold of A.A. principles with all the fervor with which the drowning seize life preservers, they almost invariably got well. That is why the first edition of the book “Alco­holics Anonymous,” published when our membership was small, dealt with low-bottom cases only. Many less desper­ate alcoholics tried A.A., but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of hopelessness.

It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the fol­lowing years this changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through. Since Step One requires an admission that our lives have become unmanageable, how could people such as these take this Step?

It was obviously necessary to raise the bottom the rest of us had hit to the point where it would hit them. By going back in our own drinking histories, we could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression. To the doubters we could say, “Perhaps you’re not an alcoholic after all. Why don’t you try some more controlled drinking, bearing in mind meanwhile what we have told you about alcoholism?” This attitude brought immediate and practical results. It was then discovered that when one alcoholic had planted in the mind of another the true nature of his malady, that person could never be the same again. Following every spree, he would say to himself, “Maybe those A.A.’s were right. . . .“ After a few such experiences, often years be­fore the onset of extreme difficulties, he would return to us convinced. He had hit bottom as truly as any of us. John   Barleycorn himself had become our best advocate.

Why all this insistence that every A.A. must hit bottom first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom. For practicing A.A.’s remaining eleven Steps means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still drinking can dream of taking. Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.’s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn’t care for this prospect—unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself.

Under the lash of alcoholism, we are driven to A.A., and there we discover the fatal nature of our situation. Then, and only then, do we become as open-minded to con­viction and as willing to listen as the dying can be. We stand ready to do anything which will lift the merciless obsession from us.

"Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions" copyrighted by AA World Services, Inc. and  reprinted with permission.


Fending off Loneliness

Alcoholism has been described as "the lonely disease,".  Literally hundreds of thousands* of us remember feeling isolated even when we were among a lot of happy, celebrating people. We often felt a deep sense of not belonging, even when we cheerfully acted sociable.

Many of us have said we drank originally to be "a part of the crowd." Many of us felt we had to drink to "get in," and to feel that we fitted in with the rest of the human race.

When that effect of alcohol wore off, we were left feeling more set apart, more left out, more "different" than ever, and sadder.At times, we secretly feared or even believed that we deserved ostracism, because of the things we did. "Maybe," many of us thought, "I really am an outsider."

The lonely road ahead looked bleak, dark, and unending. It was too painful to talk about; and to avoid thinking about it, we soon drank again.

People were all around us, but most of our important dialogues were entirely interior, held with ourselves. We were sure nobody else would understand. Besides, considering our opinion of ourselves, we were not sure that we wanted anybody to understand.

When we first listen to recovered alcoholics in AA talking freely and honestly about themselves, we are stunned.

We are not totally unlike everybody, after all.

Those of us sober in AA a few years can assure any newcomer at an AA meeting that it is real, very real indeed. And it does last.

We have become thoroughly conditioned to feeling and acting misunderstood and unloved—whether we really were or not. Even though we begin to believe we are not alone any more, we sometimes act and feel in the old ways.

Now and then, some of us are even tempted just to give up, and go back to the old misery. At least, it is familiar, and we wouldn't have to work hard to recapture all the expertise we achieved at the drinking life.

We do not have to give up in secret shame any more; we do not have to renew our old, hopeless attempts to find social confidence in the bottle, where we found loneliness instead.

But we know now that we do not have to proceed all on our own. And none of us need feel any shame at all at using help, since we all help each other.

Our own experience at staying sober overwhelmingly reflects the wisdom of using whatever good help is available in recovery from a drinking problem. Despite our great need and desire, none of us recovered from alcoholism solely on our own.


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