Comparison Format — Colors appear here only and are — — not used in the actual comparisons. — Words above brackets are from the pre-publication version. < Bracketed copy is from our Basic Text as it reads today. > ~ Format Examples ~Rarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >...~ ~ ~Now we think you can take it! < — — — — — > Here are the steps we took...~ ~ ~11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our — — — — — — < conscious > contact with God < as we understood Him >...~ ~ ~
Chapter 2 < Chapter 2 > THERE IS A SOLUTIONWe, of one hundred < WE, OF > ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, know < thousands of > men < and women > who were once just as hopeless as Bill. All < Nearly all > have recovered. They have solved the drink problem. ordinary We are < average > Americans. All sections of this country and many of its occupations are represented, as well as many political, economic, social, and religious back- grounds. We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from , shipwreck < > when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain's table. Unlike the feelings of the ship's passengers, however, our joy in escape from disaster does not subside as we go our individual ways. 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. The tremendous fact for every one of us < is > that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.
18 An illness of this sort – and we have come to believe it an illness – involves those about us in a way no other human sickness can. If a person has cancer all are sorry for him and no one is angry or hurt. But no so with the alcoholic illness, for with it there goes annihilation of all the things worth while in life. It engulfs all whose lives touch the sufferer's. It brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad wives and parents – anyone can increase the list. This , instruct < We hope this > volume will inform < > and com- fort those who are, or who may be affected. There are many. Highly competent psychiatrists who have dealt with us (often fruitlessly, we are afraid) find it almost < have found it sometimes > impos- sible to persuade an alcoholic to discuss his situation without reserve. Strangely enough, wives, parents and intimate friends usually find us even more unapproachable than do the psychiatrist and the doctor. But the ex-alcoholic who has found this < But the ex-problem drinker who has found this > solution, who is properly armed with certain medical < solution, who is properly armed with facts about > information, can generally win the entire confidence < himself, can generally win the entire confidence > of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an < of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an > understanding is reached, little or nothing can be < understanding is reached, little or nothing can be > accomplished. < accomplished. > That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured – these are the conditions
19 necessary we have found < most effective >. After such an approach many take up their beds and walk again. None of us makes a < sole > vocation of this work, nor do we think its effectiveness would be increased if the liquor problem we did. We feel that elimination of < our drinking > is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, , occupations < > and affairs. All of us spend much of our spare time in the sort of effort which we are going to describe. A few are fortunate enough to be so situated of that they can give nearly all < > their time to the work. If we keep on the way we are going there is little doubt that much good will result, but the surface of the problem would hardly be scratched. Those of us who live in large cities are overcome by the reflection that close by hundreds are dropping into oblivion every day. Many could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed. How then shall we present that which has been so freely given us? We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to the task our combined experience and knowledge. This ought to < should > suggest a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem. Of necessity there will have to be discussion of matters medical, psychiatric, social, and religious. We are aware that these matters are, from their very nature, controversial. Nothing would please us so much as to write a book which would contain no basis for con- tention or argument. We shall do our utmost to achieve that ideal. Most of us sense that real tolerance of other people's shortcomings and viewpoints and a respect for their opinions are attitudes which make us
20 more useful to others. Our very lives, as < ex-problem > ex-alcoholics < drinkers >, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs. You may already have asked yourself why it is that all of us became so very ill from drinking. Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking – "What do I have to do?" It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done. Before going into a detailed discussion, it may be well to summarize some points as we see them. How many times people have said to us: "I can take it or leave it alone. Why can't he?" "Why don't you drink like a gentleman or quit?" "That fellow can't handle his liquor." "Why don't you try beer and wine?" "Lay off the hard stuff." "His will power must be weak." "He could stop if he wanted to." "She's such a sweet girl, I should think he'd stop for her < sake >." "The doctor told him that if he ever drank again it would kill him, but there he is all lit up again." , Now < > these are commonplace observations on drinkers which we hear all the time. Back of them is a world of ignor- ance and misunderstanding. We see that these expressions re- fer to people whose reactions are very different from ours. Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone. Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have bad the habit < badly > enough to gradually impair
21 him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason – ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor – becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention. But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink. Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control. He does absurd, incredible, tragic things while drinking. He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk. His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature but little. He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. Yet let him drink for a day, and he frequently becomes disgustingly, and even dangerously anti-social. He has a positive genius for getting tight at exactly the wrong moment, particularly when some important decision must be made or engagement kept. He is often perfectly sensible and well balanced concerning everything except liquor, but in that respect < he > is incredibly dishonest and selfish. He often possesses special abilities, skills, and aptitudes, and has a promising career ahead of him. He uses his gifts to build up a bright outlook for his family and himself, < and > then pulls the structure down on his head by a senseless series of sprees. He is the fellow who goes to bed so intoxicated he ought to sleep the clock around. Yet early next
22 morning he searches madly for the bottle he misplaced the night before. If he can afford it, he may have liquor concealed all over his house to be certain no one gets his entire supply away from him to throw down the wastepipe. As matters grow worse, he begins to use a combination of high-powered sedative and liquor to quiet his nerves so he can go to work. Then comes the day when he simply cannot make it and gets drunk all over again. Perhaps he goes a dose of to a doctor who gives him < > morphine or some high-voltage < > sedative with which to taper off. Then he begins to appear at hospitals and sanitariums. This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the true alcoholic, as our behavior patterns vary. But this description should identify him roughly. Why does he behave like this? If hundreds of experi- ences have shown him that one drink means another debacle with all its attendant suffering and humiliation, why is it he takes that one drink? Why can't he stay on the water wagon? What has become of the common sense and will power that he still sometimes displays with respect to other matters? Perhaps there never will be a full answer to these Psychiatrists and medical men questions. < Opinions > vary considerably in their opinion < > as to why the alcoholic reacts differently No one is from normal people. < We are not > sure why, once a certain nothing point is reached, < little > can be done for him. We cannot answer the riddle. We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink < , > as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to
23 stop. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly that confirm < this >. These observations would be academic and pointless if our friend never took the first drink < , > thereby setting real the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the < main > problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body. If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred alibis. Sometimes these excuses have a certain plausibility, but none of them make really < makes > sense in the light of the havoc an alcoho- to you lic's drinking bout creates. They sound < > like the beat philosophy of the man who, having a headache, < beats > him- couldn't self on the head with a hammer so that he < can't > feel the ache. If you draw this fallacious reasoning to the attention of an alcoholic, he will laugh it off, or become irritated and refuse to talk. you Once in a while he may tell < > the truth. And the truth, strange to say, is usually that he has no more idea why he took that first drink than you have. Some drinkers have excuses with which they are satisfied part of the time. But in their hearts they really do not know why they do it. Once this malady has a real hold, they are a baffled lot. There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game. But they often suspect they are down for the count. How true this is, few realize. In a vague way their families and friends sense that these drinkers are abnormal, waits but everybody hopefully < awaits > the day when the sufferer will rouse himself from his lethargy and assert his power of will. The tragic truth is that if the man be a real alco- will seldom holic, the happy day < may not > arrive. He has lost
24 control. At a certain point in the drinking of every alco- holic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail. This tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected. The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet < The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet > obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our < obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our > so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. < so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. > We are unable at certain times, no matter how well we < We are unable, at certain times, > understand ourselves, to bring into our consciousness < to bring into our consciousness > with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and < with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and > humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are < humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are > without defense against the first drink. < without defense against the first drink. > The almost certain consequences that follow taking even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to deter , us. If these thoughts occur, they are hazy < > and readily supplanted with the old threadbare idea that this time we shall handle ourselves like other people. There is a complete failure of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove. The alcoholic may say to himself in the most casual way, "It won't burn me this time, so here's how!" Or perhaps he doesn't think at all. How often have some of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to ourselves, "For God's sake, how did I ever get started again?" Only to have that thought supplanted by "Well, I'll stop with the sixth drink." Or "What's the use anyhow?" When this sort of thinking is fully established in an individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably all placed himself beyond < > human aid, and unless locked is certain to , up < may > die < > or go permanently insane. These stark and ugly facts have been confirmed by legions of alcoholics
25 throughout history. But for the grace of God, there would one hundred have been < thousands > more convincing demonstrations. , So many want to stop < > but cannot. There is a solution. < There is a solution. > Almost none of us liked the levelling self-searching, the < leveling > of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futililty of life as we had been living it. When, there- fore, 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. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of , existence < > of which we had not even dreamed. that 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. If you are < as > seriously alcoholic < as we were >, you have we believe < there is > no middle-of-the-road solution. You are is < We were > in a position where life < was > becoming you have impossible, and if < we had > passed into the region from you have from which there is no return through human aid, < we had > one is but two alternatives: < One was > to go on to the bitter your end blotting out the consciousness of < our > intolerable you can find situation as best < we could >; and the other, to < accept > what we have found < spiritual help >. This
26 you can do if you want are < we did because we > honestly < wanted > to, and < were > willing to make the effort. A certain American business man had ability, good sense, and high character. For years he had floundered from one sanitarium to another. He had consulted the best known American psychiatrists. Then he had gone to Europe, placing himself in the care of a celebrated physician < (the psychiatrist, Dr. Jung) > who prescribed for him. bitter Though < > experience had made him skeptical, he finished his treatment with unusual confidence. His physical and mental condition were unusually good. Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge , of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs < > that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time. More baffling still, he could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall. So he returned to this doctor, whom he admired, and asked him point-blank why he could not recover. He wished above all things to regain self-control. He seemed quite rational and well-balanced with respect to other problems. Yet he had no control whatever over alcohol. Why was this? He begged the doctor to tell him the whole truth, and he got it. In the doctor's judgment he was utterly hopeless; he could never regain his position in society , and he would have to place himself under lock and key < > or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long. That was a great physician's opinion. But this man still lives, and is a free man. He , does not need a bodyguard < > nor is he confined. He can go anywhere on this earth where other free men may go
27 without disaster, provided he remains willing to maintain a certain simple attitude. Some of our alcoholic readers may think they can do without spiritual help. Let us tell you the rest of the conversation our friend had with his doctor. The doctor said: "You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where the state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you." Our friend felt as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang. He said to the doctor, "Is there no exception?" "Yes," replied the doctor, "there is. Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To me these occur- rences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them. In fact, I have been trying to produce some such emotional rearrangement within you. With many individuals the methods which I employed are successful, but I have never been successful with an alcoholic of your description." Upon hearing this, our friend was somewhat relieved, for he reflected that, after all, he was a good church member. This hope, however, was destroyed by the doctor's telling him that < while > his religious convictions were very good, but that < > in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience.
28 Here was the terrible dilemma in which our friend found himself when he had the extraordinary experience, which as we have already told you, made him a free man. , will We, in our turn, sought the same escape < with > all the desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, "a design for living < living" > that really works. The distinguished American psychologist, William James, , in his book < > "Varieties of Religious Experience," indicates found a multitude of ways in which men have < discovered > God. As a group, we < We > have no desire to convince anyone that there God discovered is only one way by which < faith > can be < acquired >. If , , , what we have learned < > and felt < > and seen < > means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, , creed, or color < > are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try. Those having religious affiliations will find here nothing disturbing to their beliefs or ceremonies. There is no friction among us over such matters. , as a group, We think it no concern of ours < > what religious bodies our members identify themselves with as individuals. This should be an entirely personal affair which each one decides for himself in the light of past association < associations >, or his present choice. Not all of us have joined < join > religious bodies, but most of us favor such memberships. In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism < , > as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic. Many who once were in this ; surprisingly class are now among our members < . Surprisingly >
29 enough, we find such convictions no great obstacle to a spiritual experience. There is a group of personal narratives. Then < Further on, > clear- an alcoholic may cut directions are given showing how < we > recover more than a score of < recovered >. These are followed by < forty-three > personal experiences. Each individual, in the personal stories, describes , in his own language < > and from his point of view the way found or rediscovered he < established his relationship with > God. These give a fair cross section of our membership and a clear-cut idea of what has actually happened in their lives. We hope no one will consider these self-revealing accounts in bad taste. Our hope is that many alcoholic men and women, desperately in need, will see these pages, and we believe that it is only by fully disclosing our- selves and our problems that they will be persuaded to say, "Yes, I am one of them too; I must have this thing."