Author Archives: JoeO

Basic Text occurrences of certain words

Alcoholics Anonymous“, our Basic Text, was written to be conversational…

“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.” (page 20)

“Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you…”
“If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were…”
“Let us tell you the rest of the conversation our friend had…”
“…the extraordinary experience which, as we have already told you…
“…A new life…or, if you prefer, ‘a design for living’ that really works.” (pages 21-28)

occurrences of recover-ed-ing-s-y



occurrences of recover-ed-ing-s-y

We A.A.s do not stay away from drinking,
we grow away from drinking [one day at a time].”
(Al-Anon, “Lois Remembers“, page 168, quoting Bill)

“We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous“, page 132)

recover, recovered, recoveries, recovering, recovers, recovery

Preface to Third Edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous
Because this book has become the basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists a sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore, the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left untouched in the course of revisions made for both the second and the third editions.

Foreword to First Edition

We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.

…[since] our first printing of this book… Alcoholics Anonymous has mushroomed into nearly 6,000 groups whose membership is far above 150,000 recovered alcoholics.

…when the broker (Bill W.) gave him (Dr. Bob) Dr. Silkworth’s description of alcoholism and its hopelessness… It also indicated that strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery.
Hence the two men set to work… Their very first case, a desperate one, recovered immediately and became A.A. number three. -Foreword (Second Edition)

By the end of 1939 it was estimated that 800 alcoholics were on their way to recovery.

…the large numbers of recoveries

Foreword to Third Edition

The basic principles of the A.A. program, it appears, hold good for individuals with many different lifestyles, just as the program has brought recovery to those of many different nationalities. The Twelve Steps…they trace exactly the same path to recovery that was blazed by the earliest members of Alcoholics Anonymous.
…Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery (not mere sobriety) begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.

The Doctor’s Opinion

We of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the reader will be interested in the medical estimate of the plan of recovery described in this book.

In the course of his (Bill W.’s) third treatment (late 1934) he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery… This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered.
NoNameYet comment: Dr. Silkworth risked his medical reputation by saying anything at all, and that is why we see “a possible means” (mere speculation) and “appear to have” (no certainty presented) in his first-and-brief letter of two.

…unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.

Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric effort is considerable, we physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole.

He had but partially recovered from a gastric hemorrhage and seemed to be a case of pathological mental deterioration.

Chapter 1: Bill’s Story

…the market had gone to hell again…would recover, but I wouldn’t. (page 6)

Chapter 2: There Is A Solution

…thousands of men and women… Nearly all have recoveredsolved the drink problem. (page 17)

Many (dropping into oblivion every day) could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed. (page 19)

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. (page 20)

…So he returned to this doctor (Carl Jung), whom he admired, and asked him point-blank why he could not recover. (page 26)

The doctor said: “… I have never seen one single case recover, where the state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you.” (page 27)

Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered. (page 29)

Chapter 3: More About Alcoholism

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery.
…lost the ability to control our drinking…no real alcoholic ever recovers control. (page 30)

We have tried every imaginable remedy (to recover control of our drinking). In some instances there has been brief recovery (normal drinking), followed always by a still worse relapse. (page 31)

We first saw Fred about a year ago in a hospital where he had gone to recover from a bad case of jitters. (page 39)

Chapter 4: We Agnostics

If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered (from ‘chronic’, as in ‘no effective mental defense against the first drink’ (page 43) long ago. (pages 44-45)

Chapter 5: How It Works

Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves… There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. (page 58)
NoNameYet comment: The idea of giving oneself over to the ages-old, man-made, ego-driven idea of not drinking one-day-at-a-time and the idea of completely giving oneself over to taking the Twelve Steps to have our problem solved for us are not the same thing! Trying to stay sober one-day-at-a-time is dependent upon human power where the Steps are about trying to grow away – not stay away – from drinking one-day-at-a-time…and we do that by growing along spiritual lines for the remainders of our lives in order for “no effective mental defense” to be and remain completely removed.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery… (page 59)

Chapter 6: Into Action

…the Fifth Step in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter. (page 72)

Unwilling to be honest… Small wonder many in the medical profession have a low opinion of alcoholics and their chance for recovery! (page 73)

Chapter 7: Working With Others

To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss…
Perhaps you are not acquainted with any drinkers who want to recover. (page 89)
NoNameYet comment: ‘desire to stop drinking’, ‘want to recover’ and ‘wish to recover’ (Tradition Three) all mean the same.

If he says yes (he wants to quit for good and if he would go to any extreme to do so), then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered…one of a fellowship who, as part of (maintaining and sharing) their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you. (page 90)

…insist that if he is severely afflicted, there may be little chance he can recover by himself. (page 92)

It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him. (page 94)
NoNameYet comment: Thinking of “strenuous work, one alcoholic with another” as “vital to permanent recovery” occasionally leads some of us to the erroneous conclusion that “strenuous work, one alcoholic with another” is more like “how it works” (as some kind of ‘service work’ effectively replacing Steps One through Nine) than part of Step Twelve taking us back to the beginning for the sake of the suffer where we find “You can help when no one else can – You can secure their confidence when others fail” (page 89) actually making the difference…and here is more of that overall perspective:

…if your prospect does not respond at once…[not] desperate enough…leave such a person alone [as] he may soon become convinced he cannot recover [on human power. Do not spend ‘too much time’ there and thus] deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy (same as ‘recover‘). One of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half-dozen prospects. He often says that if he had continued to work on them, he might have deprived many others, who have since recovered, of their chance. (page 96)

Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps…the program of recovery. (page 96)

Permit [a man to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter] and you only harm him… You may be aiding in his destruction rather than his recovery. (pages 96-97)

Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. (page 97)

Should [the family] accept and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better chance that the head of the family will recover. (page 97)

…no undue haste for the couple to get together. The man should be sure of his recovery
Let no alcoholic say he cannot recover unless he has his family back…his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. (pages 99-100)

Chapter 8: To Wives

He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. But don’t remind him of this after he has been drinking…for the more you hurry him the longer his recovery may be delayed. (page 113)

…spectacular and powerful recoveries. (page 113)

The slightest sign of fear or intolerance may lessen your husband’s chance of recovery. (page 120)

Chapter 9: The Family Afterward

Our women folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering (as in ‘becoming recovered‘). (page 122)

At the beginning of recovery a man will take, as a rule, one of two directions. (page 125)

He is striving to recover fortune and reputation and feels he is doing very well. (page 126)

Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first. (page 127)

We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. (page 132)

A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling… We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. (page 133)

Whether the family goes on a spiritual basis or not, the alcoholic member has to if he would recover. (page 135)

Chapter 10: To Employers

…accepted the principles and procedure that had helped us. He is undoubtedly on the road to recovery. (page 139)

After satisfying yourself that your man wants to recover and that he will go to any extreme to do so, you may suggest a definite course of action. (page 142)

To get over drinking will require a transformation of thought and attitude. We all had to place recovery above everything, for without recovery we would have lost both home and business.
Can you have every confidence in his ability to recover? (page 143)
NoNameYet note: “Those who do not recover are people who cannot (they seem mentally incapable of) or will not (become intellectually willing to) completely give themselves to this simple program…constitutionally (mentally or intellectually) incapable of being honest with themselves.” (page 58)

Naturally this sort of thing decreased the man’s chance of recovery. (page 145)

An alcoholic who has recovered, but holds a relatively unimportant job, can talk to a man with a better position. (page 146)

If he is [drunk], and is still trying to recover, he will tell you about it even if it means the loss of his job. (page 146)

If he is conscientiously following the program of recovery he can go anywhere your business may call him. (page 147)

The right kind of man, the kind who recovers, will not want [a disproportionate amount of time and attention]. (page 149)

Chapter 11: A Vision For You

The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery proves that! (page 153)

He has helped other men recover, and is a power in the church from which he was long absent. (page 158)

Understanding our work, [the doctor] can [suggest our approach to a patient] with an eye to selecting those who are willing and able to recover on a spiritual basis. (page 162)

When a few men in this city have found themselves, and have discovered the joy of helping others to face life again, there will be no stopping until everyone in that town has had his opportunity to recover – if he can and will. (pages 163-164)

Appendix I: The A.A. Tradition

Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity. (Tradition One)

…we may refuse none who wish to recover. (Tradition Three)

Appendix II: Spiritual Experience

…the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms.

…many alcoholics have [incorrectly] concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God-consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook…
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…
Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery.

Introduction to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

…collective experience within the Fellowship on how A.A. members recover, and how our society functions.

…because the book (“Alcoholics Anonymous”) has helped so many alcoholics find recovery, there exists strong sentiment within the Fellowship against any change to it.

Foreword to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of more than one hundred thousand alcoholic men and women who are banded together to solve their common problems and to help fellow sufferers in recovery from that age-old, baffling malady, alcoholism.

This book…presents an explicit view of the principles by which A.A. members recover and by which their Society functions.

…after a large amount of failure in getting alcoholics to recover, three successful groups emerged…[yet] it was hard to find two-score of sure recoveries in all three groups (collectively).

…in April 1939…the recoveries numbered about one hundred…[new] book was called “Alcoholics Anonymous”…the spiritual ideas of the Society were codified…the application…was made clear. The remainder of the book…described their drinking experiences and recoveries.

…in 1939…the recovered alcoholics carried their message…

Proof that alcoholics could recover had been made.

Step One in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

…a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on their own resources.

Step Twelve in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

…if these are facts of life for the many alcoholics who have recovered in A.A., they can become the facts of life for many more.

Tradition One in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Our Twelve Steps to recovery are suggestions…

The A.A. member has to conform to the principles of recovery. His life actually depends upon obedience to spiritual principles.

…most individuals cannot recover unless there is a group.

[Just as] we had once struggled and prayed for individual recovery, just so earnestly did we commence to quest for the principles through which A.A. itself might survive.

Tradition Three in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

How could we know thousands of these sometimes frightening people were to make astonishing recoveries and become our greatest workers and intimate friends?

Tradition Five in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

The unique ability of each A.A. to identify himself with, and bring recovery to the newcomer in no way depends upon his learning, eloquence, or on any special individual skills… These legacies of suffering and of recovery are easily passed among alcoholics, one to the other.

Finally, he saw that I wasn’t attempting to change his religious views, that I wanted him to find the grace in his own religion that would aid his recovery.

Tradition Eight in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Almost no recovery from alcoholism has ever been brought about by the world’s best professionals, whether medical or religious.

Tradition Nine in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Unless each A.A. member follows to the best of his ability our suggested Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant.

Tradition Ten in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Since recovery from alcoholism is life itself to us, it is imperative that we preserve in full strength our means of survival.

Tradition Twelve in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Enthusiastic over the spectacular recovery of a brother alcoholic, we’d sometimes discuss those intimate and harrowing aspects of his case meant for his sponsor’s ear alone.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, by permission of AAWS


The words “fellow“, “fellows“, “fellowship” and “fellowships” can each be used in various ways, and our comprehensions or understandings of their nuances – shades of difference or delicate gradations – can often be quite dependent upon context. For example:

“‘I know I must get along without liquor…  Have you a sufficient substitute?’
“Yes…a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous…” (“Alcoholics Anonymous“, page 152)

How can a group of people be a substitute for the effect of a few drinks?! But in looking more closely, it is the spiritual fellowship shared within an autonomous A.A. fellowship – not the group itself – that has just been mentioned as our “sufficient substitute” for alcohol…and now the details of that common-for-all benefit as “fellows”, both male and female, within that fellowship are freely shared next from within our text:

“There you will find release from care, boredom and worry.
“Your imagination will be fired.  Life will mean something at last.
“The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead…”

…and now ponder these following two versions, one brief and one expanded, of that paragraph’s next sentence:

1. “Thus we find (the A.A. group), and so will you.”

2. “Thus we find (the fellowship we share within our A.A. fellowships), and so will you…
“…in your own community…make lifelong friends…new and wonderful ties…escape disaster together…commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey…give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life…learn the full meaning of ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.'” (pages 152-153)

“Some day we hope that every alcoholic who journeys will find
a Fellowship of (Anonymous Alcoholics) at his destination.” (page 162)

fellow, fellows, fellowship, fellowships

Preface to Third Edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous
The second edition…the chief change was in the section of personal stories, which was expanded to reflect the Fellowship’s growth.
NoNameYet note: As there mentioned, “the Fellowship” is really more like an overall, ad-hoc “society” of recovered alcoholics actually recognizable or identifiable only by their respective memberships within our autonomous A.A. fellowship groups as “organism”, not organization.

Foreword to First Edition
When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as “a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Foreword to Second Edition
Figures given in this foreword describe the Fellowship as it was in 1954.

Our earliest printing voiced the hope “that every alcoholic who journeys will find the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous at his destination.”
NoNameYet note: As dependent upon context, that is not true. Please see the excerpt below from page 162.

We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene.

Foreword to Third Edition
In spite of the great increase in the size and the span of this Fellowship, at its core it remains simple and personal.

The Doctor’s Opinion
“…present his (Bill W.’s) conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others…has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families.”
William D. Silkworth, M.D.

Chapter 1: Bill’s Story
Disappointed but curious, I wondered what had got into the fellow. (page 9)

“We commenced to make many fast friends and a fellowship has grown up among us of which it is a wonderful thing to feel a part…”
We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek. (page 15)

Chapter 2: There Is A Solution
…there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. (page 17)

“That fellow can’t handle his liquor.” (page 20)

Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control…
He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. (page 20)

He is the fellow who goes to bed so intoxicated he ought to sleep the clock around. (page 21)

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. (page 25)

Chapter 3: More About Alcoholism
Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. (page 30)

“We admit we have some of these symptoms, but we have not gone to the extremes you fellows did, nor are we likely to, for we understand ourselves so well after what you have told us that such things cannot happen again.” (page 38)

Let him tell you about it: “I was much impressed with what you fellows said about alcoholism, and I frankly did not believe it would be possible for me to drink again..
“I rather appreciated your ideas about the subtle insanity which precedes the first drink, but I was confident it could not happen to me after what I had learned…
“I reasoned I was not so far advanced as most of you fellows, that I had been usually successful in licking my other personal problems, and that I would therefore be successful where you men failed.” (page 40)

Chapter 4: We Agnostics
About half of our original fellowship were of exactly that type. (page 44)

Many times we talk to a new man and watch his hope rise as we discuss his alcoholic problems and explain our fellowship (as a “sufficient substitute”). (page 45)

Chapter 5: How It Works
Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. (page 62)

Chapter 6: Into Action
More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life…presents his stage character…the one he likes his fellows to see. (page 73)

“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…”
Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. (page 76)

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. (page 84)

Chapter 7: Working With Others
To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. (page 89)

You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as part of their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you. (page 90)

On your first visit tell him about the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 94)

Offer him friendship and fellowship. (page 95)

One of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half dozen prospects. (page 96)

Chapter 9: The Family Afterward
…on earth…is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done. (page 130)

Most (fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds) give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. (page 133)

Chapter 10: To Employers
…the vice president of a large industrial concern…remarked: “I’m mighty glad you fellows got over your drinking.” (page 148)

Chapter 11: A Vision For You
It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous
Thus we find the Fellowship, and so will you…
High and low, rich and poor, these are future fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 152)

They will approach still other sick ones and fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous may spring up in each city and hamlet, havens for those who must find a way out…
Perhaps the best way of treating you to a glimpse of your future will be to describe the growth of the fellowship among us. (page 153)

Two days later, a future fellow of Alcoholics Anonymous stared glassily at the strangers beside his bed…
“Who are you fellows, and why this private room?…
“You fellows know your stuff all right, but I don’t see what good it’ll do. You fellows are somebody…”
Said the future Fellow Anonymous: “Damn little to laugh about that I can see.” (page 157)

…a devil-may-care young fellow whose parents could not make out whether he wanted to stop drinking or not. (page 158)

“The way you fellows put this spiritual stuff makes sense…” So one more was added to the Fellowship.
They shared their homes, their slender resources, and gladly devoted their spare hours to fellow-sufferers. (page 159)

Aside from fellowship and sociability, the prime object (for setting apart one night a week for a meeting to be attended by anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life) was to provide a time and place where new people might bring their problems. (pages 159-160)

A community thirty miles away has fifteen fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. Being a large place, we think that some day its Fellowship will number many hundreds. (page 161)

Some day we hope that every alcoholic who journeys will find a Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous at his destination. (page 162)

So our fellow worker will soon have friends galore. Some of them may sink and perhaps never get up, but if our experience is a criterion, more than half of those approached will become fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 163)

God…will show you how to create the fellowship you crave.
Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows… We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. (page 164)

Introduction to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
“Bill W., who along with Dr. Bob S. founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, wrote (‘Alcoholics Anonymous’) to share 18 years of collective experience within the Fellowship on how A.A. members recover, and how our society functions.”
“In recent years some members and friends of A.A. have asked if it would be wise to update the language, idioms, and historical references in the book to present a more contemporary image for the Fellowship. However, because the book has helped so many alcoholics find recovery, there exists strong sentiment within the Fellowship against any change to it. In fact, the 2002 General Service Conference discussed this issue and it was unanimously recommended that: ‘The text in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, written by Bill W., remain as is, recognizing the Fellowship’s feelings that Bill’s writing be retained as originally published.'”

“We hope that the collective spiritual experience of the A.A. pioneers captured in these pages continues to help alcoholics and friends of A.A. understand the principles of our program.”

Foreword to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of more than one hundred thousand alcoholic men and women who are banded together to solve their common problems and to help fellow sufferers in recovery from that age-old, baffling malady, alcoholism.”

“A.A.’s Twelve Traditions apply to the life of the Fellowship itself.”

“How can a set of traditional principles, having no legal force at all, hold the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous in unity and effectiveness? The second section of this volume, though designed for A.A.’s membership, will give such inquirers an inside view of A.A. never before possible.”

“…a well-known surgeon and a New York broker. Both were severe cases of alcoholism and were destined to become co-founders of the A.A. Fellowship.”

“The basic principles of A.A., as they are known today, were borrowed mainly from the fields of religion and medicine, though some ideas upon which success finally depended were the result of noting the behavior and needs of the Fellowship itself.”

“The book was called ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’, and from it the Fellowship took its name.”

“The book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ became the basic text of the Fellowship, and it still is.”

Borrowed A.A. “Big Book” Helps Turn The Tide For A Dying Loner

“If he shows interest, lend him your copy of this book…”
“…though you be but one man with this book in your hand
…it contains all you will need to begin.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous“, pages 94, 162-163)

Joe’s Story

By the time I was 31 and throughout that summer of 1981, I was a dying loner who had a desire to stop drinking and smoking dope forever…but I could not.  I had never heard anything about “the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it − this utter inability to leave it alone…” (page 34), but I was experiencing it.  No matter how hard or how often I had tried,  cried, prayed or whatever else, I just could not “put the plug in the jug” and leave it there.  If you have ever tried to stop drinking forever and have failed, and especially if you have repeatedly failed at one-day-at-a-time abstinence like I did, I hope this story of permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism might interest you.  I needed something far greater than anything human to overcome my inability to stop drinking and stay stopped, and there is where the anonymous alcoholics who wrote “Alcoholics Anonymous” freely show the way onto an uncanny path and its plan for recovery that can completely-and-permanently eliminate ever again having to take a drink.

I have always been a loner, and I believe I was born that way.  From as far back as I can remember, I have never truly felt (at least not for very long) like I actually “belong” anywhere − not even within my own family − and few things ever said or done by anyone have ever permanently convinced me otherwise beyond the level of intellect.  In fact, some of the attentions afforded me and even some sincere efforts people have made to welcome me into their lives have resulted in an even-greater sense of insecurity when I did not know how to respond or to at least act in return.  Clinically, that is called “a lack of social or emotional intelligence”.  In A.A. parlance, we can help keep things simple by just speaking of our “grave emotional or mental disorders” (page 58) in the overall sense.  But no matter what words any of us might choose, the Steps can still bring anyone having “the capacity to be honest” (page 58) into spiritual sanity within “the Fellowship of the Spirit” (page 164) so we no longer have to find ourselves drinking for escape or for relief of the symptoms or consequences of our being or feeling so different from so many people.

Along that kind of line, one “social goof” of my past that comes to mind these 50-some years later took place at a neighbor’s birthday party when I was a young boy.  I was thrilled to have been invited, thinking something like, “Well, maybe today is the day the tide turns for me and I fit in well and everyone accepts me.”  All seemed fine for a time at that party that day, and especially since I only had to act like “just one among the many” while everyone but the birthday boy stood watching and chattering a bit as he opened his gifts…but then it was like my fate was sealed as my eyes lit up along with his at the sight of his shiny new baseball bat.  To my surprise, he quickly agreed when I asked whether I might be the one to carry his new bat out for him when we all went out to play.  My actual thought was to be the first to arrive at the field so I could take a few swings on my own, and I wanted to do that because I was never any good at hitting a pitched ball and sometimes not even chosen to play at all.  Well, that new bat was soon ruined by my using it to propel the several rocks I was picking up before someone noticed what I was doing and told my neighbor friend who immediately took his freshly-dented bat away and told me to go home.

A few years later in my early ‘teens and while out on the school playground, I was elated when a popular girl invited me to join in during some recess basketball.  But then when I fell just a moment later and split the seat of my pants from stem to stern, I next had to “scoot-scurry away” from public view and look for some kind of makeshift cover for my exposed underwear.  So overall, and no matter who had ever been however nice, and no matter how hard I had ever tried to get free of stomach butterflies and remain that way, being the misunderstood misfit, social oddball or four-eyed weirdo has always seemed my unique lot in life.  Even some of the people I used to think were naturally or even justifiably unlikable − bullies were the worst, of course − often at least appeared to me as being more content and secure in life than I had ever felt.

The challenges of adulthood and their farther-reaching consequences were just as unmanageable for me as those of my childhood, and with my nose pressed to one side of the glass or the other is how life was for me on the inside as well as out in my natural state for many years until just a few seconds after my first drink of alcohol at age twenty-four.  Like I have heard a few A.A. long-timers share, “Alcohol took me from the pit of nothingness and almost made me feel like a somebody while keeping me alive just long enough to get here with you.”  Once discovered, alcohol quickly became my “bottled magic” for filling my internal holes and my “magic candle” for lighting my boiler’s fire…and I became obsessed with the pursuit of some “maintenance drinking” − to “control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker” (page 30) − to try to sustain its pleasurable effects.  Some folks conditioned for “intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution” (which is “not helpful to anyone” (page 103)) might want to skip over these next few words, but here is what ethyl alcohol used to do for me:

Whenever I took a couple of drinks…
1. I was amazed before I was half-way through.
2. I suddenly knew freedom and a new happiness.
3. I no longer regretted anything past nor tried to shut the door on it.
4. I could comprehend the word “serenity” and know a little peace.
5. I believed my experience could benefit others.
6. My feelings of uselessness and self-pity would disappear.
7. I would lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in my fellows.
8. Self-seeking would slip away.
9. My entire perspective, attitude and outlook upon life would change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity would leave me.
11. I would intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle me.
12. I realized alcohol could do for me what I had never been able to do for myself.

So, and while completely unaware of “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” (12 & 12, Step One), I drank it.

Along with trying to maintain my new-found, alcohol-induced sense of ease and comfort, I also wished to only ever drink safely, of course.  I had never known any troubled drinkers personally, but I did know about one of my dad’s uncles dying from “consumption” in his forties, and I also knew of the sufferings of the family of a man I had heard was a mean drunk.  From certain scenes in old movies, however, my biggest concern was that I never find myself homeless at the end of a dark alley somewhere with nothing but a bottle of cheap wine in a paper sack.  So, and while trying to learn to drink at all − pouring warm malt liquor over ice in a glass was a bad idea, I discovered − my drinking began with my hoping and trying to be certain I would only ever drink with complete control.  Years later I learned normal drinkers almost never even think about that.  Being normal, they just drink as much or as little as they wish each time they drink at all, then stop and return to whatever else they do until the next time they have a few.

Having two drinks per day for the effect − two beers per evening with at least an hour in-between − without feeling any need, urge, craving or compulsion to reach for more was no problem for me for about the first two years of my drinking.  I definitely thought about my upcoming drinks each day, and my anticipation of what they would do for me was usually sufficient for keeping my butterflies manageable and my life-hopes steady or even growing throughout the day.  I secured a prestigious job I had been wanting for a long time, and that led to my being invited to join a softball team where I became the first off the bench in my favorite position as a catcher.  A life-long acquaintance offered me a land contract for a nice house with plenty of room for my young family, and I was even able to obtain a loan for a new car.  I had always been told I had great aptitude and potential in life, but I never would have suspected that by adding alcohol I had begun employing an invisible “alloy of drink and speculation…that one day would turn in its flight like a boomerang and all but cut me to ribbons” (page 2).

I had my first blackout − alcohol-induced amnesia, as I call that − during my third year of drinking.  I had not completely forgotten my two-drinks-per-day limit, and I did still occasionally manage to keep it to try to convince myself I still had full control over my drinking.  However, my overall experience with being able to drink more than two and still make it to work the next day seemed to suggest my “limit” could safely be changed to “as long as I can still function tomorrow”.  I vaguely remember my smoking pot for the first time during the evening of that first blackout, but none of whatever else someone later said I had done at that neighborhood Euchre party could be found anywhere within my conscious memory.  Little did I know my waking up and looking for evidence of things I could never recall would eventually become my norm.

As unexpectedly as a lightning bolt on a clear summer day, my entire life and the confidence and security I had added via my “alloy of drink and speculation” went sour at the beginning of my twenty-eighth year of breathing…and my drinking had nothing to do with that.  My prestigious job in its fast-paced market had become so challenging that I actually wanted out of it, yet my fear of looking and feeling like a failure beyond anything alcohol could have covered had been keeping me strapped to it.  There was no lightning in any of that, of course, but then my hearing of a personal offense I would never have expected from my boss or from anyone at all made my sky fall.  To retaliate without risking personal harm, I drove out to work that evening while knowing no one would be there and I set fire to the building.  A kind judge later viewed my arson as “a crime of passion” and was as lenient as he could lawfully be throughout his handlings of my case, a plea bargain, my sentencing, incarceration, probation and ultimate release.  My own initial thought of a defense through all of that was to plead “temporary insanity”, and I had visited a nearby mental heath center in an attempt to investigate that as a possibility.  Following a therapist’s (a Master of Social Work) assessment, I was told the folks at that facility could not help me in court.  However, someone there did suggest I might return for some personal counseling…and thus was the stage set for my eventual hearing of an answer as to why I could not stop drinking.

Prison life without alcohol would have been impossible for me without the Thorazine prescribed by one of the psychiatrists at the mental health center I had been visiting, but it took a prison psychiatrist’s order to make it available while I was in that institution.  There was one occasion when a fellow inmate displayed a small bottle of my favorite whiskey, but he was offering to share it with others also − that fellow must have been a normal drinker − and I knew better than to light a fire without having any additional fuel at hand for stoking it.  After being transferred to a work release center not long after the beginning of my incarceration, I again had easy access to alcohol and pot…and then one of the guards at that place suggested I stop taking the Thorazine because of its adverse, long-term effects.  Walking into that facility drunk at the end of a work day never brought any trouble for me, and I might always only wonder whether that guard understood.  In my own experience, locking an alcoholic up only worsens his or her “sufferingly sober” misery while also interrupting the experience needed so he or she might eventually develop a desire to stop altogether.

Following my release from State custody, my young family was broken and I was alone.  So, a friend who had helped me secure the work-release job offered me a place to sleep in his basement.  Having a business of his own, my kind friend also hired me as his part-time helper for the completion of a project he had been commissioned to do for someone else…and then upon the completion of that work, its owner hired me as his Plant Manager.  “Success”, at least in the material sense, and a bit of prestige again seemed present on my horizon.  However, the ever-increasing pain of my loneliness cried out for ever-increasing amounts of alcohol to cover it, and it did not take long for me to decide a fresh start in a new place − a “geographical cure”, as I know that today − might be best.  As written in the parking lot of a bar while awaiting a no-show companion I had hoped might accompany me…

“To Florida I am going, that’s south,
“With a bottle and a joint in my mouth.
“And I’ll ne’er be back o’er that south’n-bound track
“Until I finish this poem…
“And I have no intention of doing that.”

I knew it was wrong to altogether abandon my two young daughters, but my social ignorance kept me from being part of their lives that were now beyond the care and direction I had never been able to provide for them even while my young family was still together.  Rather than ever being a nurturing father, I was far more of a child, myself.  So as I drove out of that empty parking lot that day, and with tears streaming, I also prayed something like this:

“Father, I know what I am doing is wrong, but I do not know what else to do.  If you can, and if you will, please keep me alive until whatever is ahead has ended and someone can teach me how to live.”

— note: This is my current edit point as I write, but you can continue reading my bits and pieces, if you wish…

Near the end of September in 1981, I found myself sitting at a bar nursing a beer during the early-morning hours after yet another highly-dreaded “last call” at the end of a wet week.  The bar was closing, the bottle in my old truck was empty and I was broke…but the liquor stores would not be opening back up that day anyway.  As I sat there pondering myself and my life, I knew I was at the edge of some kind of long, dark tunnel dropping down into nothingness…and I also knew there was nothing I could do about that.  I had given life my best shot and had failed.  I still had a few moral convictions, a job, a place to live and some old ideas about how life should be, of course, but I also knew I was headed toward an early grave.

“I…had a desire to stop drinking and smoking dope forever…”

“I…definitely had a desire to stop…but I could not.”

I had heard about a man who had asked someone to let me know he was “sober”.

Freeman had once been my therapist, and I decided to go see him even though I had never known him as a drinker.  Wanting to be sure I would be sober when I saw him, and while knowing I could not stop drinking long enough to do that, I got up from that bar-stool and walked into a nearby police station while smoking a joint.  “Lock me up and do not let me out until I get help”, I said, then handed them my bag of pot and added, “Here’s my ticket.”  Those officers obliged me, of course, and they even let me finish that joint while fingerprinting me!  When I later asked them about that, one of them said, “We had no idea what kind of person or situation we might have had on our hands, and we just wanted to get you into a cell quietly without any unnecessary problems or trouble.”  Me too…and then I spent the next couple of days sobering up on their dry doughnuts and bad coffee.

After court had opened at the beginning of the new week, a kind judge released me so I could make an appointment and go see Freeman, the man I had heard was sober.  I could not keep myself from drinking for the duration, but I did manage to not be completely drunk when I walked into his office a few days later.  After a bit of chat to catch up after having not seen each other in quite a while, our fellow had just one question for me:

“Joe, do you have a desire to stop drinking?”
“I have to.”
“That is not what I asked.  Do you have a desire to stop drinking?”
“I’ve got to!  I can’t go on this way!”
“That is not what I am asking you, Joe.  Do you have a desire to stop drinking?”

I surely did, but I was afraid to say so.  I knew I could not, and I was horrified by the thought he might say something like “Don’t drink” if I answered him.  But since he was obviously not going to change his question and I was looking for help, I said these three things together very quickly so he would not have time to interrupt me with anything even close to something as impossible for me as “Don’t drink”:

“Yes, I want to, but I can’t.  Why not?”
“Because you are alcoholic”, he answered.

I was shocked and relieved at the same time.  I had never held a bottle of cheap wine in a paper sack, so I was shocked at hearing him call me “alcoholic”.  But at the same time, I was grateful somebody finally seemed to have some kind of label for whatever was wrong inside me.

“What should I do about that?”, I asked.
“Go to A.A., read the A.A. ‘Big Book’ and get an A.A. sponsor to help you follow its A.A. directions.”

He might not have actually said “A.A.” four times there, but that is the essence of what I heard in his answer and that is what works…and just in case you might be wondering: No, nothing even close to “Don’t drink” can be found anywhere within that book.  Rather, “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.” (“A.A.”, the book, page 85)

(2) My mother heard my cry and loaned me her copy of the A.A. “Big Book”.  She suggested I “read this book through” (as first hoped by Dr. Silkworth in “The Doctor’s Opinion”) so I could intelligently decide for myself about whether or not to accept its “combined experience and knowledge” (page 19) as my own “useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.”  That decision was difficult for me at that time while still fearing the possibility of yet another dead-end path, but “book in hand” right there in my misery is where my lifetime encounter with permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism began…

…and that is how I began learning the certainty of my long-suspected and very-real need for an “It never fails” (Dr. Bob) kind of solution such as could never have come from me, from you or from any other human being.  Apart from whatever Power there might actually be that really is far greater than even all of us together, most chronic alcoholics seem doomed to die one-debacle-at-a-time with few people ever understanding how or why that happens.  Truly, “So many want to stop but cannot” (page 25), and I used to be that kind of drinker.

I had been going to as many as fifteen meetings per week for several months during my first “sufferingly-sober” year in A.A. and while looking for someone who could help me understand and actually do the things shared in our Basic Text so I could recover from chronic alcoholism and never again end up drinking again…and then a friend who had been to a Charlie-and-Joe “Big Book Seminar” in an O.A. setting came to me with three tapes from that seminar and I spent the next three days in “tears of joy” — tears always come from something having been frustrated for a period of time, you know — while listening to those tapes over and over again as those two men explained things in ways I could never have figured out on my own.
… more to be added …

Basic Text comparisons to original manuscript

In June of 1938, and after having embraced a solution for chronic alcoholism, some alcoholics who had previously believed themselves hopeless now knew the reality of permanent recovery. We do know they had yet to begin using the word “permanent”, but their new-found knowledge of “hopeless” having been nothing greater than a misconstrued feeling is certainly evidenced here:

“We…have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous“, Foreword to First Edition)

Discovery of truths by learning to live within truth can set people free.
–  NoNameYet  –

Seizing each new opportunity to try to be helpful to still others, those same people had also begun saying this amongst themselves:

“If we keep on the [word-of-mouth] way we are going there is little doubt much good will result, but the surface of the problem would hardly be scratched…hundreds…dropping into oblivion…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…our combined experience and knowledge…a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.” (page 19)

As an aside here, please notice that precise order… 1: combined experience; 2: knowledge. These people had not “knowledged” their individual ways into various new manners of living, they had commonly lived their way – “a simple religious idea (Step Three) and a practical program of action (Steps Four through Nine)” (page 9) – into “a revolutionary change in their (now-common) way of living and thinking” (page 50).

By December of that year, those early A.A.s had a “working manuscript” for their book. They printed a number of multilith copies for review by members and select others…and all of that ultimately helped formulate the final text of “Alcoholics Anonymous”, the book, as we know it today.

From A.A. World Services in reference to these comparisons we offer: “…we would have no objection to the production of a few copies of such a work.” (February 23, 1987, letter on file)

With corrections where we had missed edits and made typos, here is our online copy of our 1993 comparison between the Third Edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous” – the A.A. “Big Book” – and its pre-publication multilith.

a line-by-line comparison between
Alcoholics Anonymous
and its pre-publication manuscript
dedicated to
those who trudge the Road of Happy Destiny
in memory of
those who first blazed the trail
with hope for
those who may yet seek our way


~ ~ ~ technical notes ~ ~ ~
Q: Why are line lengths different here than in the book?
A: Adding brackets, edits, removals and additions within
the text causes some lines to grow too long (too wide)
for display on a line otherwise printable on any page,
and the same is true for printable page lengths. The
page numbers you see here are the same as in the book,
but the lengths of these HTML "pages" vary greatly.
Much care has been taken to assure the accuracy of this
line-by-line comparison, and please let us know if you
might happen to notice any errors or typos on our part!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Dr. Bob's "prescription" for the real alcoholic
First Edition (Eighth Printing) Dust Jacket


A L C O H O L I C ' S
Published by:
Works Publishing Co.,
17 William St.,
Newark, N. J.

Here is a link to our entire comparison as a single web page:

Entire Line-by-Line Comparison

Here are links to our chapter-by-chapter comparisons:

Foreword to First Edition (comparison)
The Doctor’s Opinion (comparison)
Bill’s Story (comparison)
There is a Solution (comparison)
More About Alcoholism (comparison)
We Agnostics (comparison)
How It Works (comparison)
Into Action (comparison)
Working With Others (comparison)
To Wives (comparison)
The Family Afterward (comparison)
To Employers (comparison)
A Vision For You (comparison)
Appendix to First Edition

Here is a download link for the entire comparison:
note: Some format editing will be required prior to printing.

Foreword to First Edition (comparison)

Comparing “Foreword to First Edition” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text

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 >...
~ ~ ~

FOREWORD < TO FIRST EDITION > < This is the Foreword as it appeared in the > < first printing of the first edition in 1939 >
We, of < WE, OF > Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW THEY CAN RECOVER < precisely how we have recovered > is the main purpose of think this book. For them, we < hope > these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. hope We < think > this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not yet he < > comprehend that < the alcoholic > is a very sick person. new living And besides, we are sure that our < > way of < life > has its advantages for all. It is important that we remain anonymous because , we are too few, at present < > to handle the overwhelming will number of personal appeals which < may > result from this publication. Being mostly business or professional well folk < , > we could not < > carry on our occupations clearly in such an event. We would like it < > understood only, so that that our alcoholic work is an avocation < . > when < When > writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal A Member name, designating himself instead as "< a member > of Alcoholics Anonymous." Very earnestly we ask the press also, to observe this request, for otherwise we shall be greatly handicapped. We are not an organization in the conventional

(glimpse of the original ‘working manuscript’ for these two pages)

sense of the word.  There are no fees < or > dues             
whatsoever.  The only requirement for membership is an        
honest desire to stop drinking.  We are not allied with       
any particular faith, sect or denomination, nor do we         
oppose anyone.  We simply wish to be helpful to those         
who are afflicted.                                            

     We shall be interested to hear from those who are        
getting results from this book, particularly from those       
who have commenced work with other alcoholics.  We            
   shall try            contact                               
< should like > to < be helpful to > such cases.              

     Inquiry by scientific, medical, and religious societies  
will be welcomed.                                             

     (This multilith volume will be sent upon receipt         
     <                                                >       
 of $3.50, and the printed book will be mailed, at no         
<                                                    >        
 additional cost, as soon as published.)                      
<                                       >                     

                                  ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS < . >  

e-aa discussion of Foreword to First Edition

The Doctor’s Opinion (comparison)

Comparing “The Doctor’s Opinion” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text

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 >...
~ ~ ~

We of < WE OF > Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the reader will be interested in the medical estimate of the plan of recovery described in this book. Convincing testimony must surely come from medical men who have had experience with the sufferings of our members and have witnessed our return to health. A well-known doctor, chief physician at a nation- ally prominent hospital specializing in alcoholic and drug addiction, gave Alcoholics Anonymous this letter: To Whom It May Concern: I have specialized in the treatment of alcoholism for many years. About four years ago < In late 1934 > I attended a patient who, though he had been a competent businessman of good earning capa- city, was an alcoholic of a type I had come to regard as hopeless. In the course of his third treatment he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. As part of his rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others. This has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families. This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered. thirty these I personally know < scores > of < > cases who were of the type with whom other methods had failed completely. These facts appear to be of extreme medical importance; because of the extraordinary possibilities of rapid


  growth inherent in this group they < may > mark a new       
  epoch in the annals of alcoholism.  These men may well      
  have a remedy for thousands of such situations.             

     You may rely absolutely on anything they say about       

                            Very truly yours,        
                         (Signed) - - - - - - -      
                       < William D. Silkworth, > M.D.

     The physician who, at our request, gave us this letter,  
has been kind enough to enlarge upon his views in another     
statement which follows.  In this statement he confirms what  
 anyone         has                                           
<  we  > who < have > suffered alcoholic torture must be-     

lieve – that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal   
as his mind.  It < did > not satisfy us to be told that we    
< could not > control our drinking just because we were mal-  
adjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality,   
or were outright mental defectives.  These things were true   
to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some   
of us.  But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well.
In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out  
this physical factor is incomplete.                           

                                       a kind of              
     The doctor's theory that we have <   an    > allergy     

to alcohol interests us.  As laymen, our opinion as to its    
soundness may, of course, mean little.  But as < ex-problem > 
< drinkers >, we can say that his explanation makes good      
sense.  It explains many things for which we cannot other-    
wise account.                                                 

     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.  More often    
than not, it is imperative that a man's brain be cleared be-  
fore he is approached, as he has then a better                


chance of understanding and accepting what we have to offer.  

     The doctor writes:                                       

     The subject presented in this book seems to me to be     
  of paramount importance to those afflicted with alcoholic   

     I say this after many years' experience as Medical       
  Director of one of the oldest hospitals in the country      
  treating alcoholic and drug addiction.                      

     There was, therefore, a sense of real satisfaction when  
  I was asked to contribute a few words on a subject which    
  is covered in such masterly detail in these pages.          

     We doctors have realized for a long time that some form  
  of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, 
  but its application presented difficulties beyond our con-  
  ception.  What with our ultra-modern standards, our scien-  
  tific approach to everything, we are perhaps not well       
  equipped to apply the powers of good that lie outside our   
  synthetic knowledge.                                        

      About four                                              
     <   Many   > years ago one of the leading contributors   
  to this book came under our care in this hospital and       
  while here he acquired some ideas which he put into         
  practical application at once.                              

     Later, he requested the privilege of being allowed to    
  tell his story to other patients here and <       > with    
  some misgiving, we consented.  The cases we have followed   
  through have been most interesting; in fact, many of them   
  are amazing.  The unselfishness of these men as we have     
  come to know them, the entire absence of profit motive,     
  and their community spirit, is indeed inspiring to one      
  who has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field.   
  They believe in themselves, and still more in the Power     
  which pulls chronic alcoholics back from the gates of       

     Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his        


  physical craving for liquor, and this often requires        
  a definite hospital procedure, before psychological         
  measures can be of maximum benefit.                         

     We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that       
  the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is        
  a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of       
  craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the    
  average temperate drinker.  These allergic types can never  
  safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having      
  formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once       
  having lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon      
  things human, their problems pile up on them and become     
  astonishingly difficult to solve.                           

     Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices.  The message    
  which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must     
  have depth and weight.  In nearly all cases, their ideals   
  must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if     
  they are to re-create their lives.                          

     If any feel that as psychiatrists directing a hospital   
  for alcoholics we appear somewhat sentimental, let them     
  stand with us a while on the firing line, see the trage-    
  dies, the despairing wives, the little children; let the    
  solving of these problems become a part of their daily      
  work, and even of their sleeping moments, and the most      
  cynical will not wonder that we have accepted and encou-    
  raged this movement.  We feel, after many years of experi-  
  ence, that we have found nothing which has contributed      
  more to the rehabilitation of these men than the            
  < altruistic > movement now growing up among them.          

     Men and women drink essentially because they like the    
  effect produced by alcohol.  The sensation is so elusive    
  that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after   
  a time differentiate the true from the false.  To them,     
  their alcoholic life seems the only normal one.  They are   
  restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can       


  again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes  
  at once by taking a few drinks – drinks which they see      
  others taking with impunity.  After they have succumbed to  
  the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of      
  craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages   
  of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution     
  not to drink again.  This is repeated over and over, and    
  unless this person can experience an entire psychic change  
  there is very little hope of his recovery.                  

     On the other hand – and strange as this may seem         
  to those who do not understand – once a psychic change      
  has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who   
  had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them, sud-
  denly finds himself easily able to control his desire for   
  alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to   
  follow a few simple rules.                                  

     Men have cried out to me in sincere and despairing       
  appeal: "Doctor, I cannot go on like this!  I have          
  everything to live for!  I must stop, but I cannot!         
  You must help me!"                                          

     Faced with this problem, if a doctor is honest with      
  himself, he must sometimes feel his own inadequacy.         
  Although he gives all that is in him, it often is not       
  enough.  One feels that something more than human power     
  is needed to produce the essential psychic change.  Though  
  the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric      
  effort is <       > considerable, we physicians must        
  admit we have made little impression upon the problem       
  as a whole.  Many types do not respond to the ordinary      
  psychological approach.                                     

     I do not hold with those who believe that alcoholism is  
  entirely a < problem of > mental < control >.  I have had   
  many men who had, for example, worked a period of months    
  on some problem or business deal which was to be settled    
  on a certain date, favorably to them.  They took a drink    
  a day or so prior to the date, and then the phenomenon of   
  craving at once became paramount to all other interests so  


  that the important appointment was not met.  These men      
  were not drinking to escape; they were drinking to over-    
  come a craving beyond their mental control.                 

     There are many situations which arise out of the phe-    
  nomenon of craving which cause men to make the supreme      
  sacrifice rather than continue to fight.                    

     The classification of alcoholics seems most difficult,   
  and in much detail is outside the scope of this book.       
  There are, of course, the <              > psychopaths who  
  are emotionally unstable.  We are all familiar with this    
  type.  They are always "going on the wagon for keeps."      
  They are over-remorseful and make many resolutions, but     
  never a decision.                                           

      Then there are those who are never properly adjusted    
     <                                                    >   
   to life, who are the so-called neurotics.  The prognosis   
  <                                                        >  
   of this type is unfavorable.                               
  <                            >                              

     There is the type of man who is unwilling to admit       
  that he cannot take a drink.  He plans various ways of      
  drinking.  He changes his brand or environment.  There      
  is the type who always believes that after being entirely   
  free from alcohol for a period of time he can take a drink  
  without danger.  There is the manic-depressive type, who    
  is, perhaps, the least understood by his friends, and       
  about whom a whole chapter could be written.                

     Then there are types entirely normal in every respect    
  except in the effect alcohol has upon them.  They are       
  often able, intelligent, friendly people.                   

     All these, and many others, have one symptom in common:  
  they cannot start drinking without developing the phenome-  
  non of craving.  This phenomenon, as we have suggested,     
  may be the manifestation of an allergy which differenti-    

  ates these people, < and > sets them apart as a distinct    
  entity.  It has never been, by any treatment with which     
  we are familiar, permanently eradicated.  The only relief   
  we have to suggest is entire abstinence.                    

     This immediately precipitates us into a seething         
  caldron of debate.  Much has been written pro and con,      
  but among physicians, the general opinion seems to be       
  that most chronic alcoholics are doomed.                    


     What is the solution?  Perhaps I can best answer this    
               an experience of two years ago                 
  by relating <    one of my experiences     >.               

     About one year prior to this experience a man was        
  brought in to be treated for chronic alcoholism.  He had    
  but partially recovered from a gastric hemorrhage and       
  seemed to be a case of pathological mental deterioration.   
  He had lost everything worthwhile in life and was only      
  living, one might say, to drink.  He frankly admitted and   
  believed that for him there was no hope.  Following the     
  elimination of alcohol, there was found to be no permanent  
  brain injury.  He accepted the plan outlined in this book.  
  One year later he called to see me, and I experienced a     
  very strange sensation.  I knew the man by name, and        
  partly recognized his features, but there all resemblance   
  ended.  From a trembling, despairing, nervous wreck, had    
  emerged a man brimming over with self-reliance and con-     
  tentment.  I talked with him for some time, but was not     
  able to bring myself to feel that I had known him before.   
                                                More than     
  To me he was a stranger, and so he left me.  <    A    >    
   three years have now                                       
  <   long time has    > passed with no return to alcohol.    

     When I need a mental uplift, I often think of another    
  case brought in by a physician prominent in New York        
  <    >.  The patient had made his own diagnosis, and        
  deciding his situation hopeless, had hidden in a deserted   
  barn determined to die.  He was rescued by a searching      

  party, and, in desperate condition, < was > brought to      
  me.  Following his physical rehabilitation, he had a talk   
  with me in which he frankly stated he thought the treat-    
  ment a waste of effort, unless I could assure him, which    
  no one ever had, that in the future he would have the       
  "will power" to resist the impulse to drink.                

     His alcoholic problem was so complex, and his depres-    
  sion so great, that we felt his only hope would be through  
  what we then called "moral psychology," and we doubted if   
  even that would have any effect.                            


     However, he did become "sold" on the ideas contained     
                                             more than three  
  in this book.  He has not had a drink for < a great many  > 
  years.  I see him now and then and he is as fine a specimen 
  of manhood as one could wish to meet.                       

     I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book     
  through, and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may re-    
  main to pray.                                               

                             < William D. Silkworth, M.D. >

e-aa discussion of The Doctor’s Opinion

Bill’s Story (comparison)

Comparing “Bill’s Story” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text

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 1 < Chapter 1 > BILL'S STORY
War fever < WAR FEVER > ran high in the New England town to which we new, young officers from Plattsburg were assigned, and we were flattered when the first citizens took us to their homes, making us feel heroic. Here was love, applause, war; moments hilarious intervals sublime with < intervals hilarious >. I was part of life at last, and in the midst of the excitement I discovered liquor. I forgot the strong warnings and the prejudices of my people concerning drink. In time we sailed for "Over There." I was very lonely and again turned to alcohol. We landed in England. I visited Winchester Cathedral. Much moved, I wandered outside. My attention was caught by a doggerel on an old tombstone: "Here lies a Hampshire Grenadier Who caught his death Drinking cold small beer < . > A good soldier is ne'er forgot Whether he dieth by musket Or by pot." Ominous warning – which I failed to heed. Twenty-two, and a veteran of foreign wars, I went home at last. I fancied myself a leader, for had not the men of my battery given me a special token of appreciation? My talent for leadership, I imagined, would place me at the head of vast enterprises which I would manage with the utmost assurance.



     I took a night law course, and obtained employment as    
investigator for a surety company.  The drive for success was 
on.  I'd prove to the world I was important.  My work took me 
about Wall Street and little by little I became interested in 
the market.  Many people lost money – but some became very    
rich.  Why not I?  I studied economics and business as well   
as law.  Potential alcoholic that I was, I nearly failed my   
law course.  At one of the finals I was too drunk to think    
or write.  Though my drinking was not yet continuous, it dis- 
turbed my wife.  We had long talks when I would still her     
forebodings by telling her that men of genius conceived their 
best projects when drunk; that the most majestic constructions
of philosophic thought were so derived.                       

     By the time I had completed the course, I knew the law   
was not for me.  The inviting maelstrom of Wall Street had me 
in its grip.  Business and financial leaders were my heroes.  
Out of this alloy of drink and speculation, I commenced to    
forge the weapon that one day would turn in its flight like   
a boomerang and all but cut me to ribbons.  Living modestly,  
my wife and I saved $1,000.  It went into certain securities, 
then cheap and rather unpopular.  I rightly imagined that     
they would some day have a great rise.  I failed to persuade  
my broker friends to send me out looking over factories and   
managements, but my wife and I decided to go anyway.  I had   
developed a theory that most people lost money in stocks      
through ignorance of markets.  I discovered many more reasons 
later on.                                                     

     We gave up our positions and off we roared on a motor-   

cycle, the sidecar stuffed with tent, blankets, < a > change  
of clothes, and three huge volumes of a financial             



reference service.  Our friends thought a lunacy commission   
should be appointed.  Perhaps they were right.  I had had some
success at speculation, so we had a little money, but we once 
worked on a farm for a month to avoid drawing on our small    
capital.  That was the last honest manual labor on my part for
                         the the                              
many a day.  We covered <  the  > whole eastern United States 
in a year.  At the end of it, my reports to Wall Street pro-  
cured me a position there and the use of a large expense      
account.  The exercise of an option brought in more money,    
leaving us with a profit of several thousand dollars for that 

     For the next few years fortune threw money and applause  
my way.  I had arrived.  My judgment and ideas were followed  
by many to the tune of paper millions.  The great boom of the 
late twenties was seething and swelling.  Drink was taking an 
important and exhilarating part in my life.  There was loud   
talk in the jazz places uptown.  Everyone spent in thousands  
and chattered in millions.  Scoffers could scoff and be dam-  
ned.  I made a host of fair-weather friends.                  

     My drinking assumed more serious proportions, continuing 
all day and almost every night.  The remonstrances of my      
friends terminated in a row and I became a lone wolf.  There  
were many unhappy scenes in our sumptuous apartment.  There   
had been no real infidelity, for loyalty to my wife, helped   
at times by extreme drunkenness, kept me out of those scrapes.

     In 1929 I contracted golf fever.  We went at once to the 
country, my wife to applaud while I started out to overtake   
Walter Hagen.  Liquor caught up with me much faster than I    
came up behind Walter.  I began to be jittery in the morning. 
Golf permitted drinking                                       



every day and every night.  It was fun to carom around the    
exclusive course which had inspired such awe in me as a lad.  
I acquired the impeccable coat of tan one sees upon the well- 
to-do.  The local banker watched me whirl fat checks in and   
< out > of his till with amused skepticism.                   

     Abruptly in October 1929 hell broke loose on the New York
stock exchange.  After one of those days of inferno, I wobbled
from a hotel bar to a brokerage office.  It was eight o'clock 
– five hours after the market closed.  The ticker still clat- 
tered.  I was staring at an inch of tape which bore the in-   
scription < XYZ >-32.  It had been 52 that morning.  I was    
finished and so were many friends.  The papers reported men   
jumping to death from the towers of High Finance.  That dis-  
gusted me.  I would not jump.  I went back to the bar.  My    
friends had dropped several million since ten o'clock – so    
what?  Tomorrow was another day.  As I drank, the old fierce  
determination to win came back.                               

     Next morning I telephoned a friend in Montreal.  He had  
plenty of money left and thought I had better go to Canada.   
By the following spring we were living in our accustomed <  > 
style.  I felt like Napoleon returning from Elba.  No St.     
Helena for me!  But drinking caught up with me again and my   
generous friend had to let me go.  This time we stayed broke. 

     We went to live with my wife's parents.  I found a job;  
then lost it as the result of a brawl with a taxi driver.     
Mercifully, no one could guess that I was to have no real     
employment for five years, or hardly draw a sober breath.     
My wife began to work in a department store, coming home      
exhausted to find me drunk.                                   



I became an unwelcome hanger-on at brokerage places.          

     Liquor ceased to be a luxury; it became a necessity.     
"Bathtub" gin, two bottles a day, and often three, got to be  
routine.  Sometimes a small deal would net a few hundred dol- 
lars, and I would pay my bills at the bars and delicatessens. 
This went on endlessly, and I began to waken very early in the
morning shaking violently.  A tumbler full of gin followed by 
half a dozen bottles of beer would be required if I were to   
eat any breakfast.  Nevertheless, I still thought I could con-
trol the situation, and there were periods of sobriety which  
renewed my wife's hope.                                       

     Gradually things got worse.  The house was taken over    
by the mortgage holder, my mother-in-law died, my wife and    
father-in-law became ill.                                     

     Then I got a promising business opportunity.  Stocks were
at the low point of 1932, and I had somehow formed a group to 
buy.  I was to share generously in the profits.  Then I went  
on a prodigious bender, and that chance vanished.             

     I woke up.  This had to be stopped.  I saw I could not   
take so much as one drink.  I was through forever.  Before    
then, I had written lots of sweet promises, but my wife hap-  
pily observed that this time I meant business.  And so I did. 

     Shortly afterward I came home drunk.  There had been no  
fight.  Where had been my high resolve?  I simply didn't know.
It hadn't even come to mind.  Someone had pushed a drink my   
way, and I had taken it.  Was I crazy?  I began to wonder, for
such an appalling lack of perspective seemed near being just  

     Renewing my resolve, I tried again.  Some time           



passed, and confidence began to be replaced by cocksureness.  
I could laugh at the gin mills.  Now I had what it takes!     
One day I walked into a cafe to telephone.  In no time I was  
beating on the bar asking myself how it happened.  As the     
whisky rose to my head I told myself I would manage better    
next time, but I might as well get good and drunk then.  And  
I did.                                                        

     The remorse, horror and hopelessness of the next morning 
are unforgettable.  The courage to do battle was not there.   
My brain raced uncontrollably and there was a terrible sense  
of impending calamity.  I hardly dared cross the street, lest 
I collapse and be run down by an early morning truck, for it  
was scarcely daylight.  An all night place supplied me with   
a dozen glasses of ale.  My writhing nerves were stilled at   
last.  A morning paper told me the market had gone to hell    
again.  Well, so had I.  The market would recover, but I      
wouldn't.  That was a hard thought.  Should I kill myself?    
No – not now.  Then a mental fog settled down.  Gin would     
fix that.  So two bottles, and – oblivion.                    

     The mind and body are marvelous mechanisms, for mine     
endured this agony <   > two more years.  Sometimes I stole   
from my wife's slender purse when the morning terror and mad- 
ness were on me.  Again I swayed dizzily before an open win-  
dow, or the medicine cabinet < > where there was poison, cur- 
sing myself for a weakling.  There were flights from city to  
country and back, as my wife and I sought escape.  Then came  
the night when the physical and mental torture was so hellish 
I feared I would burst through my window, sash and all.  Some-
how I managed to drag my mattress to a lower floor, lest I    
suddenly leap.  A doctor came with                            



a heavy sedative.  Next day found me drinking both gin and    
sedative.  This combination soon landed me on the rocks.      
People feared for my sanity.  So did I.  I could eat little   
or nothing when drinking, and I was forty pounds under weight.

     My brother-in-law is a physician, and through his kind-  

ness < and that of my mother > I was placed in a nationally-  
known hospital for the mental and physical rehabilitation of  
alcoholics.  Under the so-called belladonna treatment my brain
cleared.  Hydrotherapy and mild exercise helped much.  Best of
all, I met a kind doctor who explained that though certainly  
selfish and foolish, I had been seriously ill, bodily and     

     It relieved me somewhat to learn that in alcoholics the  
will is amazingly weakened when it comes to combating liquor, 
though < it > often remains strong in other respects.  My in- 
credible behavior in the face of a desperate desire to stop   
was explained.  Understanding myself now, I fared forth in    
high hope.  For three or four months the goose hung high.  I  
went to town regularly and even made a little money.  Surely  
this was the answer – self-knowledge.                         

     But it was not, for the frightful day came when I drank  
once more.  The curve of my declining moral and bodily health 
fell off like a ski-jump.  After a time I returned to the hos-
pital.  This was the finish, the curtain, it seemed to me.  My
weary and despairing wife was informed that it would all end  
with heart failure during delirium tremens, or I would develop
a wet brain, perhaps within a year.  She would soon have to   
give me over to the undertaker < > or the asylum.             

     They did not need to tell me.  I knew, and almost        
welcomed the idea.  It was a devastating blow to my           



pride.  I, who had thought so well of myself and my abilities,
of my capacity to surmount obstacles, was cornered at last.   
Now I was to plunge into the dark, joining that endless pro-  
cession of sots who had gone on before.  I thought of my poor 
wife.  There had been much happiness after all.  What would   
I not give to make amends.  But that was over now.            

     No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found  
in that bitter morass of self-pity.  Quicksand stretched      
around me in all directions.  I had met my match.  I had been 
overwhelmed.  Alcohol was my master.                          

     Trembling, I stepped from the hospital a broken man.     
Fear sobered me for a bit.  Then came the insidious insanity  
of that first drink, and on Armistice Day 1934, I was off     
again.  Everyone became resigned to the certainty that I would
have to be shut up somewhere, or would stumble along to a mis-
erable end.  How dark it is before the dawn!  In reality that 
was the beginning of my last debauch.  I was soon to be cata- 
pulted into what I like to call the fourth dimension of exis- 
tence.  I was to know happiness, peace, and usefulness, in a  
way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes. 

     Near the end of that bleak November, I sat drinking in   
my kitchen.  With a certain satisfaction I reflected there was
enough gin concealed about the house to carry me through that 
night and the next day.  My wife was at work.  I wondered     
whether I dared hide a full bottle of gin near the head of our
bed.  I would need it before daylight.                        

     My musing was interrupted by the telephone.  The cheery  
voice of an old school friend asked if he might               


              He was sober.                                   
come over.  < He was sober. >  It was years since             
I could remember his coming to New York in that condition.    
I was amazed.  Rumor had it that he had been committed for    
alcoholic insanity.  I wondered how he had escaped. Of course 
he would have dinner, and then I could drink openly with him. 
Unmindful of his welfare, I thought only of recapturing the   
spirit of other days.  There was that time we had chartered   
an airplane to complete a jag!  His coming was an oasis in    
this < dreary > desert of futility.  The very thing – an      
oasis!  Drinkers are like that.                               

     The door opened and he stood there, fresh-skinned and    
glowing.  There was something about his eyes.  He was inex-   
plicably different.  What had happened?                       

     I pushed a drink across the table.  He refused it.       
Disappointed but curious, I wondered what had got into the    
fellow.  He wasn't himself.                                   

     "Come, what's all this about?" I queried.                

     He looked straight at me.  Simply, but smilingly, he     
said, "I've got religion."                                    

     I was aghast.  So that was it – last summer an alcoholic 
crackpot; now, I suspected, a little cracked about religion.  
He had that starry-eyed look.  Yes, the old boy was on fire   
all right.  But bless his heart, let him rant!  Besides, my   
gin would last longer than his preaching.                     

     But he did no ranting.  In a matter of fact way he told  
how two men had appeared in court, persuading the judge to    
suspend his commitment.  They had told of a simple religious  
idea and a practical program of action.  That was two months  
ago and the result was self-evident.  It worked!              

     He had come to pass his experience along to me – if      



I cared to have it.  I was shocked, but interested.  Certainly
I was interested.  I had to be, for I was hopeless.           

     He talked for hours.  Childhood memories rose before me. 
I could almost hear the sound of the preacher's voice as I    
sat, on still Sundays, way over there on the hillside; there  
was that proffered temperance pledge I never signed; my grand-
father's good natured comtempt of some church folk and their  
doings; his insistence that the spheres really had their      
music; but his denial of the preacher's right to tell him how 
he must listen; his fearlessness as he spoke of these things  
just before he died; these recollections welled up from the   
past.  They made me swallow hard.                             

     That war-time day in old Winchester Cathedral came back  

     I had always believed in a Power greater than myself.  I 
had often pondered these things.  I was not an atheist.  Few  
people really are, for that means blind faith in the strange  
proposition that this universe originated in a cipher < > and 
aimlessly rushes nowhere.  My intellectual heroes, the che-   
mists, the astronomers, even the evolutionists, suggested vast
laws and forces at work.  Despite contrary indications, I had 
little doubt that a mighty purpose and rhythm underlay all.   
How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and  
no intelligence?  I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the  
Universe, who knew neither time nor limitation.  But that was 
as far as I had gone.                                         

     With ministers, and the world's religions, I parted right
there.  When they talked of a God personal to me, who was     
love, superhuman strength and direction, I became irritated   
and my mind snapped shut against such a theory.               



     To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not   
too closely followed by those who claimed Him.  His moral     
teaching – most excellent.  For myself, I had adopted those   
parts which seemed convenient and not too difficult; the rest 
I disregarded.                                                

     The wars which had been fought, the burnings and chica-  
nery that religious dispute had facilitated, made me sick.    
I honestly doubted whether, on balance, the religions of      
mankind had done any good.  Judging from what I had seen in   
Europe and since, the power of God in human affairs was neg-  
ligible, the Brotherhood of Man a grim jest.  If there was a  
Devil, he seemed the Boss Universal, and he certainly had me. 

     But my friend sat before me, and he made the point-      
blank declaration that God had done for him what he could     
not do for himself.  His human will had failed.  Doctors      
had pronounced him incurable.  Society was about to lock      
him up.  Like myself, he had admitted complete defeat.  Then  
he had, in effect, been raised from the dead, suddenly taken  
from the scrap heap to a level of life better than the best   
he had ever known!                                            

     Had this power originated in him?  Obviously it had not. 
There had been no more power in him than there was in me at   
that minute; and this was none at all.                        

     That floored me.  It began to look as though religious   
people were right after all.  Here was something at work in   
a human heart which had done the impossible.  My ideas about  
miracles were drastically revised right then.  Never mind the 
musty past; here sat a miracle directly across the kitchen    
table.  He shouted great tidings.                             

     I saw that my friend was much more than inwardly         



reorganized.  He was on a different footing.  His roots       
grasped a new soil.                                           

These next four paragraphs do not appear in the original.

     Despite the living example of my friend there remained   
in me the vestiges of my old prejudice.  The word God still   
aroused a certain antipathy.  When the thought was expressed  
that there might be a God personal to me this feeling was in- 
tensified.  I didn't like the idea.  I could go for such con- 
ceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Spirit   
of Nature but I resisted the thought of a Czar of the Heavens,
however loving His sway might be.  I have since talked with   
scores of men who felt the same way.                          

     My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea.  He   
said, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"      

     That statement hit me hard.  It melted the icy intellec- 
tual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many   
years.  I stood in the sunlight at last.                      

     It was only a matter of being willing to believe in      
a Power greater than myself.  Nothing more was required of me 
to make my beginning.  I saw that growth could start from     
that point.  Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might
build what I saw in my friend.  Would I have it?  Of course   
I would!                                                      

The previous four paragraphs did not appear in the original.

     Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans
< > when we want Him enough.  At long last I saw, I felt,     
I believed.  Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. 
A new world came into view.                                   

     The real significance of my experience in the Cathedral  
burst upon me.  For a brief moment, I had needed and wanted   
God.  There had been a humble willingness to have Him with    
me – and He came.  But soon the sense of His presence had     
been blotted out by                                           



worldly clamors, mostly those within myself.  And so it had   
been ever since.  How blind I had been.                       

     At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last
time.  Treatment seemed wise, for I showed signs of delirium  
           I have not had a drink since.                      
tremens.  <                             >                     

     There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then under-   
stood Him, to do with me as He would.  I placed myself unre-  
servedly under His care and direction.  I admitted for the    
first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him     
I was lost.  I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing    
to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch.  

< I have not had a drink since. >                             

     My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with
my problems and deficiencies.  We made a list of people I had 
hurt or toward whom I felt resentment.  I expressed my entire 
willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong.
Never was I to be critical of them.  I was to right all such  
matters to the utmost of my ability.                          

     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.  Never was  
I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my useful-
ness to others.  Then only might I expect to receive.  But    
that would be in great measure.                               

     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 willing-
ness, honesty and humility                                    



to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the   
essential requirements.                                       

     Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid.  It meant  
destruction of self-centeredness.  I must turn in all things  
to the Father of Light who presides over us all.              

     These were revolutionary and drastic proposals, but the  
moment I fully accepted them, the effect was electric.  There 
was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity 
as I had never known.  There was utter confidence.  I felt    
lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top   
blew through and through.  God comes to most men gradually,   
but His impact on me was sudden and profound.                 

     For a moment I was alarmed, and called my friend, the    
doctor, to ask if I were still sane.  He listened in wonder   
as I talked.                                                  

     Finally he shook his head saying, "Something has hap-    
pened to you I don't understand.  But you had better hang on  
to it.  Anything is better than the way you were."  The good  
doctor now sees many men who have such experiences. He knows  

< that > they are real.                                       

     While I lay in the hospital the thought came that there  
were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to    
have what had been so freely given me.  Perhaps I could help  
some of them.  They in turn might work with others.           

     My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demon-
strating these principles in all my affairs.  Particularly    
was it imperative to work with others < > as he had worked    
with me.  Faith without works was dead, he said.  And how     
appallingly true for the alcoholic!  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.  If 
he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank,
he would surely die.  Then faith would be dead indeed.  With  
us it is just like that.                                      

     My wife and I abandoned ourselves with enthusiasm to the 
idea of helping other alcoholics to a solution of their prob- 
lems.  It was fortunate, for my old business associates re-   
mained skeptical for a year and a half, during which I found  
little work.  I was not too well at the time, and was plagued 
by waves of self-pity and resentment.  This sometimes nearly  
drove me back to drink < , but > I soon found that when all   
other measures failed, work with another alcoholic would      
save the day.  Many times I have gone to my old hospital in   
despair.  On talking to a man there, I would be amazingly     
lifted up and set on my feet.  It is a design for living that 
works in rough going.                                         

     We commenced to make many fast friends and a fellowship  
has grown up among us of which it is a wonderful thing to feel
a part.  The joy of living we really have, even under pressure
                               one hundred                    
and difficulty.  I have seen < hundreds of > families set     

their feet in the path that really goes somewhere; have       
< seen > the most impossible domestic situations righted;     
feuds and bitterness of all sorts wiped out.  I have seen     
men come out of asylums and resume a vital place in the lives 
of their families and communities.  Business and professional 
men have regained their standing.  There is scarcely any form 
of trouble and misery which has not been overcome among us.   
In one < western > city and its environs there are < one >    
< thousand > of us and our families.  We meet frequently      
 at our different homes,                                      
<                       > so that newcomers may find the      



they seek.  At these informal gatherings one may often see    
       40         80                                          
from < 50 > to < 200 > persons.  We are growing in numbers    
and power.                                                    

     An alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature.  Our   
struggles with them are variously strenuous, comic and tragic.
One poor chap committed suicide in my home.  He could not,    
or would not, see our way of life.                            

     There is, however, a vast < amount > of fun about it all.
I suppose some would be shocked at our seeming worldliness    
and levity.  But just underneath there is deadly earnestness. 
< Faith > has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through  
us, or we perish.                                             

     Most of us feel we need look no further for Utopia < >   
 nor even for Heaven                                          
<                   >.  We have it with us right here and now.
               that                        my                 
Each day < my friend's > simple talk in < our > kitchen multi-
plies itself in a widening circle of peace on earth and good  
will to men.                                                  

e-aa discussion of Bill’s Story

There is a Solution (comparison)

Comparing “There is a Solution” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text

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 SOLUTION
We, 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.



     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. >                                             

     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                                      


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    
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        



more useful to others.  Our very lives, as < ex-problem >     
<  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
the habit < badly > enough to gradually impair                



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           



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        
<            > 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  
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                            



stop.  The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly        
confirm < this >.                                             

     These observations would be academic and pointless if    

our friend never took the first drink < , > thereby setting   
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   
really < makes > sense in the light of the havoc an alcoho-   
                                          to you              
lic's drinking bout creates.  They sound <      > like the    
philosophy of the man who, having a headache, < beats > him-  
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.                                           

     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,  
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       



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      
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                                         



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    
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.               

     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      
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                                   



  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.      
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         



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    

     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.                                   



     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" > that really works.                                

     The distinguished American psychologist, William James,  
in his book < > "Varieties of Religious Experience," indicates
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       
< associations >, or his present choice.  Not all of us       
 have joined                                                  
<   join    > religious bodies, but most of us favor such     

     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 >           



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."     

e-aa discussion of There is a Solution

More About Alcoholism (comparison)

Comparing “More About Alcoholism” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text

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 3 < Chapter 3 > MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM
Most of us < MOST OF US > have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday liquor he will control and enjoy his < > drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. We learned that we had to fully concede to our inner- most selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, had or presently may be, < has > to be smashed. We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real ever recovered this alcoholic < ever recovers > control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such inter- vals – usually brief – were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incompre- hensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better. We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of



our kind like other men.  We have tried every imaginable      
remedy.  In some instances there has been brief recovery,     

followed always by < a > still worse relapse.  Physicians     
who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such       
thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic.         
Science may one day accomplish this, but it <         >       
hasn't done so yet.                                           

     Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics     
are not going to believe they are in that class.  By every    
form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try     
to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore         
  non-alcoholic               ,                               
< nonalcoholic >.  If anyone < > who is showing inability     
to control his drinking < > can do the right-about-face and   
drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him.  Heaven      
knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink     
like other people!                                            

     Here are some of the methods we have tried:              
< Drinking > beer only, limiting the number of drinks,        
never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning,          
drinking only at home, never having it in the house,          
never drinking during business hours, drinking only at        
parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only       
natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the        
job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off           
forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more         
physical exercise, reading inspirational books,               
 consulting psychologists,                                    
<                         > going to health farms and         
sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums –      
we could increase the list ad infinitum.                      

     We do not like to < pronounce > any individual as        
<  > alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself.        
Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled      
drinking.  Try to drink and stop abruptly.  Try it            



more than once.  It will not take long for you to decide, if  
you are honest with yourself about it.  It < may > be worth   
                                  thoroughly sold on the      
a bad case of jitters if you get <   a full knowledge   >     
 idea that you are a candidate for Alcoholics Anonymous!      
<                 of your condition.                    >     

     Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that    
early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped   
drinking.  But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have     
enough desire to stop while there is yet time.  We have       
heard of a few instances where people, who showed definite    

signs of alcoholism, were able to stop < for a long period >  
because of an overpowering desire to < do > so.  Here is one. 

     A man of thirty was doing a great deal of spree drinking.
He was very nervous in the morning after these bouts and      
quieted himself with more liquor.  He was ambitious to succeed
in business, but saw that he would get nowhere if he drank at 
all.  Once he started, he had no control whatever.  He made up
his mind that until he had been successful in business and had
retired, he would not touch another drop.  An exceptional man,
he remained bone dry for twenty-five years < > and retired at 
the age of fifty-five, after a successful and happy business  
career.  Then he fell victim to a belief which practically    
every alcoholic has – that his long period of sobriety and    
self-discipline had qualified him to drink as other men.  Out 
came his carpet slippers and a bottle.  In two months he was  
in a hospital, puzzled and humiliated.  He tried to regulate  
his drinking for a while, making several trips to the hospital
meantime.  Then, gathering all his forces, he attempted to    
stop < altogether > and found he could not.  Every means of   
solving his problem which                                     



money could buy was at his disposal.  Every attempt failed.   
Though a robust man at retirement, he went to pieces quickly  
< > and was dead within four years.                           

     This case contains a powerful lesson.  Most of us have   
believed that if we remained sober for a long stretch, we     
could thereafter drink normally.  But here is a man who at    
fifty-five years found he was just where he had left off      
at thirty.  We have seen the truth demonstrated again and     
again: "< Once > an alcoholic, always an alcoholic."          
Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in     
a short time as bad as ever.  If we are planning to stop      
drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor       
any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol. 

     Young people may be encouraged by this man's experience  
to think that they can stop, as he did, on their own will     
power.  We doubt if many of them can do it, because none      
will really want to stop, and hardly one of them, because of  
the peculiar mental twist already acquired, will find he can  
win out.  Several of our crowd, men of thirty <     > or      
less, had been drinking < only > a few years, but they found  
themselves as helpless as those who had been drinking twenty  

     To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have    
to drink a long time < > nor take the quantities some of      

us have.  This is particularly true of women.  Potential      
< female > alcoholics often turn into the real thing and      

are gone beyond recall in a few years.  Certain drinkers,     
who would be greatly insulted if called < alcoholics >, are   
astonished at their inability to stop.  We, who are familiar  
with the symptoms, see large numbers of potential alcoholics  
among young                                                   



people everywhere.  But try and get them to see it!           

     As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many    
years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power. 
If anyone questions whether he has entered this dangerous     
area, let him try leaving liquor alone for one year.  If he   
is a real alcoholic and very far advanced, there is scant     
chance of success.  In the early days of our drinking we      
occasionally remained sober for a year or more, becoming      
serious drinkers again later.  Though you may be able to      
stop for a considerable period, you may yet be a potential    
alcoholic.  We think few, to whom this book will appeal, can  
stay dry anything like a year.  Some will be drunk the day    
after making their resolutions; most of them within a few     

     For those who are unable to drink moderately the question
is how to stop altogether.  We are assuming, of course, that  
the reader desires to stop.  Whether such a person can quit   
         non-spiritual                 somewhat upon the      
upon a < nonspiritual > basis depends <                 >     
 strength of his character, and how much he really wants to   
<                                                          >  
 be done with it.  But even more will it depend               
<                                              > upon the ex- 
tent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether 
he will drink or not.  Many of us felt that we had plenty of  
character.  There was a tremendous urge to cease forever.  Yet
we found it impossible.  This is the baffling feature of alco-
holism as we know it – this utter inability to leave it alone,
no matter how great the necessity or the wish.                

     How then shall we help our readers determine, to their   
own satisfaction, whether they are one of us?  The experiment 
of quitting for a period of time will be helpful, but we      
think we can render an even greater service to alcoholic      
sufferers < > and perhaps to the medical                      



fraternity.  So we shall describe some of the mental states   
that precede a relapse into drinking, for obviously this is   
the crux of the problem.                                      

     What sort of thinking dominates an alcoholic who repeats 
time after time the desperate experiment of the first drink?  
Friends who have reasoned with him after a spree which has    
brought him to the point of divorce or bankruptcy < > are     
are mystified when he walks directly into a saloon.  Why      
does he?  Of what is he thinking?                             

     Our first example is a friend we shall call Jim.  This   
man has a charming wife and family.  He inherited a lucrative 
automobile agency.  He had a commendable World War record.    
He is a good salesman.  Everybody likes him.  He is an        
intelligent man, normal so far as we can see, except for      
a nervous disposition.  He did no drinking until he was       
thirty-five.  In a few years he became so violent when        
intoxicated that he had to be committed.  On leaving the      
asylum he came into contact with us.                          

     We told him what we knew of alcoholism and the answer we 
had found.  He made a beginning.  His family was reassembled, 
and he began to work as a salesman for the business he had    
lost through drinking.  All went well for a time, but he      
failed to enlarge his spiritual life.  To his consternation,  
he found himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession.
On each of these occasions we worked with him, reviewing      
carefully what had happened.  He agreed he was a real alco-   

holic and in < a > serious condition.  He knew he faced       

another trip to the asylum if he kept on.  Moreover, he       

would lose his family for whom he had < a > deep affection.   



     Yet he got drunk again.  We asked him to tell us         
exactly how it happened.  This is his story: "I came to work  
on Tuesday morning.  I remember I felt irritated that I had   
to be a salesman for a concern I once owned.  I had  a few    
words with the boss, but nothing serious.  Then I decided to  
drive into the country and see one of my prospects for a car. 
On the way I felt hungry so I stopped at a roadside place     
where they have a bar.  I had no intention of drinking.  I    
just thought I would get a sandwich.  I also had the notion   
that I might find a customer for a car at this place, which   
was familiar < > for I had been going to it for years.  I had 
eaten there many times during the months I was sober.  I sat  
down at a table and ordered a sandwich and a glass of milk.   
Still no thought of drinking.  I ordered another sandwich and 
decided to have another glass of milk.                        

       Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were    
     < Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were >  
  to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk, it couldn't hurt     
< to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk it couldn't hurt >    
  me on a full stomach.  I ordered a whiskey and poured it    
< me on a full stomach.  I ordered a whiskey and poured it >  
  into the milk.  I vaguely sensed I was not being any too    
< into the milk.  I vaguely sensed I was not being any too >  
  smart, but felt reassured, as I was taking the whiskey      
< smart, but felt reassured as I was taking the whiskey >     
  on a full stomach.                                          
< on a full stomach. >  The experiment went so well that      
I ordered another whiskey and poured it into more milk.       
That didn't seem to bother me so I tried another."            

     Thus started < one > more journey to the asylum for      
Jim.  Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family   
and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and       
physical suffering which drinking always caused him.          
  He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic.        
< He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. >      
  Yet all reasons for not drinking were                       
< Yet all reasons for not drinking were >                     


  easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that       
< easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that >     
  he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk!        
< he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk! >      

     Whatever the precise definition of the word may be,      
we call this plain insanity.  How can such a lack of          
proportion, of the ability to think straight, be called       
anything else?                                                

     You may think this an extreme case.  To us it is < not > 
  far fetched                                                 
< far-fetched >, for this kind of thinking has been character-
                              our group.  Some of us          
istic of every single one of < us.               We > have    
sometimes reflected more than Jim did < > upon the conse-     

quences.  But there was always the curious mental phenome-    
non < > that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevi-   
tably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first   
drink.  Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check.  The  
insane idea won out.  Next day we would ask ourselves, in all 
earnestness and sincerity, how it could have happened.        

     In some circumstances we have gone out deliberately to   
get drunk, feeling ourselves justified by nervousness, anger, 
worry, depression, jealousy or the like.  But even in this    
type of beginning we are obliged to admit that our justifi-   
cation for a spree was insanely insufficient in the light of  
what always happened.  We now see that when we began to drink 
deliberately, instead of casually, there was little serious   
or effective thought during the period of premeditation < >   
of what the terrific consequences might be.                   

     Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with      
respect to the first drink as that of an individual with      
a passion, say, for jay-walking.  He gets a thrill out of     
skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles.  He enjoys         

himself < for > a few years in spite of friendly warnings.    
Up to this point you would label him as a foolish             


chap < > having queer ideas of fun.  Luck then deserts him    
and he is slightly injured several times in succession.       
You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out.       
Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured       
skull.  Within a week after leaving the hospital < >          
a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm.  He tells you       
he has decided to stop jay-walking for good, but in a few     
weeks he breaks both legs.                                    

     On through the years this conduct continues, accom-      
panied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep     
off the streets altogether.  Finally, he can no longer        
work, his wife gets a divorce < and > he is held up to        
ridicule.  He tries every known means to get the jay-         
walking idea out of his head.  He shuts himself up in an      
asylum, hoping to mend his ways.  But the day he comes        
out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks          
his back.  Such a man would be crazy, wouldn't he?            

     You may think our illustration is too ridiculous.        
But is it?  We, who have been through the wringer, have       
to admit if we substituted alcoholism for jay-walking,        
the illustration would fit us exactly.  However intelligent   
we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been    
involved, we have been strangely insane.  It's strong         
language – but isn't it true?                                 

     Some of you are thinking: "Yes, what you tell us is      
true, but it doesn't fully apply.  We admit we have some      
of these symptoms, but we have not gone to the extremes       
you fellows did, nor are we likely to, for we understand      
ourselves so well after what you have told us that such       
things cannot happen again.  We have not lost everything      
in life through drinking and we                               



certainly do not intend to.  Thanks for the information."     

     That may be true of certain < nonalcoholic > people who, 
though drinking foolishly and heavily at the present time,    
are able to stop or moderate, because their brains and bodies 
               warped and degenerated                         
have not been <       damaged        > as ours were.  But     

the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception,  
          absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of  
will be < absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of >
< self-knowledge. >  This is a point we wish to emphasize     
and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers    
as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience.  Let  
us take another illustration.                                 

     Fred is partner in a well known accounting firm.  His    
income is good, he has a fine home, is happily married and    
the father of promising children of college age.  He < has >  
so attractive a personality that he makes friends with every- 
one.  If there ever was a successful business man, it is Fred.
To all appearance he is a stable, well balanced individual.   
Yet, he is alcoholic.  We first saw Fred about a year ago in  
a hospital where he had gone to recover from a bad case of    
jitters.  It was his first experience of this kind, and he    
was much ashamed of it.  Far from admitting he was an alco-   
holic, he told himself he came to the hospital to rest his    
nerves.  The doctor intimated strongly that he might be worse 
than he realized.  For a few days he was depressed about his  
condition.  He made up his mind to quit drinking altogether.  
It never occurred to him that perhaps he could not do so, in  
spite of his character and standing.  Fred would not believe  
himself an alcoholic, much less accept a spiritual remedy for 
his problem.  We told him                                     



< what we knew > about alcoholism.  He was interested and     
conceded that he had some of the symptoms, but he was a long  
way from admitting that he could do nothing about it himself. 
He was positive that this humiliating experience, plus the    
knowledge he had acquired, would keep him sober the rest of   
his life.  Self-knowledge would fix it.                       

     We heard no more of Fred for a while.  One day we were   
told that he was back in the hospital.  This time he was      
quite shaky.  He soon indicated he was anxious to see us.     

The story he told is most instructive < , > for here was a    
chap absolutely convinced he had to stop drinking, who had    
no excuse for drinking, who exhibited splendid judgment and   
determination in all his other concerns, yet was flat on his  
back nevertheless.                                            

     Let him tell you about it: "I was much impressed with    
what you fellows said about alcoholism, < and > I frankly     

did not believe it would be possible for me to drink again.   
I < rather > appreciated your ideas about the subtle insanity 
which precedes the first drink, but I was confident it could  
not happen to me after what I had learned.  I reasoned I was  
not so far advanced as most of you fellows, that I had been   
usually successful in licking my other personal <   > prob-   

lems, < and > that I would therefore be successful where you  
men failed.  I felt I had every right to be self-confident,   
that it would be only a matter of exercising my will power    
and keeping on guard.                                         

     "In this frame of mind, I went about my business and     
for a time all was well.  I had no trouble refusing drinks,   
and began to wonder if I had not been making too hard work    
of a simple matter.  One day I went to Washington to present  
some accounting evidence to                                   



a government bureau.  I had been out of town before during    
this particular dry spell, so there was nothing new about     
that.  Physically, I felt fine.  Neither did I have any       
pressing problems or worries.  My business came off well,     
I was pleased and knew my partners would be too.  It was      
the end of a perfect day, not a cloud on the horizon.         

     "I went to my hotel and leisurely dressed for dinner.    
  As I crossed the threshold of the dining room, the thought  
< As I crossed the threshold of the dining room, the thought >
  came to mind      it would be nice to have a couple         
< came to mind that it would be nice to have a couple >       
  cocktails with dinner.  That was all.  Nothing more.        
< cocktails with dinner.  That was all.  Nothing more. >      
I ordered a cocktail and my meal.  Then I ordered another     
cocktail.  After dinner I decided to take a walk.  When I     
returned to the hotel it struck me a highball would be fine   
before going to bed, so I stepped into the bar and had one.   
I remember having several more that night and plenty next     
morning.  I have a shadowy recollection of being              

in an airplane bound for New York, < and > of finding a       
friendly taxicab driver at the landing field instead of       
my wife.  The driver escorted me about for several days.      
I know little of where I went < > or what I said and did.     
Then came the hospital with <   > unbearable mental and       
physical suffering.                                           

     "As soon as I regained my ability to think, I went       
                                              Not only had    
carefully over that evening in Washington.  < Not only had >  
  I been off guard, I had made no fight whatever against      
< I been off guard, I had made no fight whatever against >    
  that first drink.  This time I had not thought of the       
< the  first drink.  This time I had not thought of the >     
  consequences at all.                                        
< consequences at all. >  I had commenced to drink as         
carelessly as though the cocktails were ginger ale.  I now    
remembered what my alcoholic friends had told me, how they    
< prophesied > that if I had an alcoholic mind, the time      
and place would come – I would drink                          



again.  They had said that though I did raise a defense,      
it would one day give way before some trivial reason for      
having a drink.  Well, just that did happen and more, for     
what I had learned of alcoholism did not occur to me at all.  
I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind.  I      
saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in      
those strange mental blank spots.  I had never been able      
to understand people who said that a problem had them hope-   
lessly defeated.  I knew then.  It was a crushing blow.       

     "Two of the members of Alcoholics Anonymous came to      
see me.  They grinned, which I didn't like so much, and       
then asked me if I thought myself alcoholic and if I were     
really licked this time.  I had to concede both propositions. 
They piled on me heaps of <       > evidence to the effect    
that an alcoholic mentality, such as I had exhibited in       
Washington, was a hopeless condition.  They cited cases       
out of their own experience by the dozen.  This process       
snuffed out the last flicker of conviction that I could       
do the job myself.                                            

     "Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program     
of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully.  
Though I had been only a nominal churchman, their proposals   
were not, intellectually, hard to swallow.  But the program   
of action, though entirely sensible, was pretty drastic.      
It meant I would have to throw several lifelong conceptions   
out of the window.  That was not easy.  But the moment I      
made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the     
curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved,     
as in fact it proved to be.                                   

     "Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual     
principles would solve all my problems.  I have since         



been brought into a way of living infinitely more satisfying  
and, I hope, more useful than the life I lived before.  My    
old manner of life was by no means a bad one, but I would     
not exchange its best moments for the worst I have now.       
I would not go back to it even if I could."                   

     Fred's story speaks for itself.  We hope it strikes home 
to thousands like him.  He had only felt the first nip of the 
wringer.  Most alcoholics have to be pretty badly mangled     
before they really commence to solve their problems.          

     < Many > doctors and psychiatrists agree with our        
conclusions.  One of these men, staff member of a world-      
renowned hospital, recently made this statement to some       
of us: "What you say about the general hopelessness of        
the average alcoholic's plight is, in my opinion, correct.    
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.  Had you offered yourselves as patients      
at this hospital, I would not have taken you, if I had been   
able to avoid it.  People like you are too heartbreaking.     
Though not a religious person, I have profound respect for    
the spiritual approach in such cases as yours.  For most      
cases, there is virtually no other solution."                 

     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.                                                 

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