AA -or- A.A.?

It might seem we are being a bit cheeky by asking “AA or A.A.?”, but we are not. There is a difference, and that difference has meant life-over-death for many. Let us have a look.

First, here is the question before us and our problem to be resolved:

“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 upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not. Many of us felt we had plenty of character. There was a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet we found it impossible. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it – this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish.” (“Alcoholics Anonymous“, page 34)

“…unable to drink moderately…
“…tremendous urge (desire) to cease forever…
“…utter inability to leave it alone no matter how great the necessity or the wish…”

Question: How to stop altogether?

In days past, and maybe even sometimes today, many of us have had a desire to drink safely. Some of us might shudder where others might tingle over this next thought, yet we have forgotten neither the taste nor the effect of a cold beer or hot toddy. But having lived that deadly nightmare of trying to drink safely and ultimately failing again, every time, we finally arrived at a point where we wanted to know how we could just stop altogether. And again…

“For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether…(and we share that while) assuming…the reader (has a desire) to stop.”

We are not saying you should stop, and neither are we demanding you have even a desire to stop. But if your drinking has grown beyond all control and you do have a desire to stop, and especially if that desire is “for good and all”, as Dr. Bob would say, we next share “the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it – (an) utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish…”

…and there is where today’s AA and the original A.A. begin sounding very different. Specifically:

“If you are an alcoholic who wants (who has a desire) to get over it, you may already be asking…”
Q: “What do I have to do?” –page 20
A: (Today’s AA) “Don’t drink, one-day-at-a-time, and go to meetings” (presumably for ‘support’ even though we were as powerless as anyone ever was and “no human power could have relieved our alcoholism”. –page 60)
A: (Original A.A.) “We shall tell you what we have done (to have the problem removed.” –page 85)

For the record here, we find no fault with people who can leave alcohol alone one-day-at-a-time, and whether with or without a bit of “support”. In fact, we occasionally tell people today’s AA can be a great place for trying a little (or even a lot) of something like that along a “support” kind of line. But for others like ourselves who simply could not and/or still cannot stop drinking, “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as (our as well as your) program of recovery:

“1. We admitted … powerless … unmanageable
“2. Came to believe (God could resolve that)
“3. Made a decision (to learn to live His way)
“4. … searching and fearless moral inventory
“5. Admitted … exact nature of our wrongs
“6. … ready to have (Him) remove (them)
“7. Humbly asked Him (to do so)
“8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed
“9. Made direct amends to such people
“10. Continued to take personal inventory
“11. Sought through prayer and meditation
“12. … tried to carry this message to (others) …” –page 60

How can you determine whether you might actually need that? Try this, if you wish, and even while also trying a bit of “support” such as from some of today’s AA:

“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 weeks.” –page 34

If you are like us and you survive, we hope to see you here again within a few weeks. Or, if you wish, you can take a look at Step One right here and now: We admitted we were powerless


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