10 – Daily Readings October

The October Daily Readings from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous


October  1 – PM          Page 111, To Wives, Chapter 8

The first principle of success is that you should never be angry.  Even though your husband becomes unbearable and you have to leave him temporarily, you should, if you can, go without rancor.  Patience and good temper are most necessary.
Our next thought is that you should never tell him what he must do about his drinking.  If he gets the idea that you are a nag or a killjoy, your chance of accomplishing anything useful may be zero.  He will use that as an excuse to drink more.  He will tell you he is misunderstood.  This may lead to lonely evenings for you.  He may seek someone else to console him—not always another man.

October 1 – AM          Page 96, Working With Others, Chapter 7

Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once.  Search out another alcoholic and try again.  You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer.  We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you.  If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself.  To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy.  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.
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 of the program of recovery.  Having had the experience yourself, you can give him much practical advice.  Let him know you are available if he wishes to make a decision and tell his story, but do not insist upon it if he prefers to consult someone else.


October  2 – PM          Page 23-24, There Is A Solution, Chapter 2

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 alcoholic, the happy day may not arrive.  He has lost control.  At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, 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.

October 2 – AM          Page xxviii, The Doctor’s Opinion

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 tragedies, 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 encouraged this movement.  We feel, after many years of experience, that we have found nothing which has contributed more to the rehabilitation of these men than the altruistic movement now growing up among them.


October 3 – PM          Page 34-35, More About Alcoholism, Chapter 3

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 mystified when he walks directly into a saloon.  Why does he?  Of what is he thinking?

October 3 – AM          Page 129-130, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

Though the family does not fully agree with dad’s spiritual activities, they should let him have his head.  Even if he displays a certain amount of neglect and irresponsibility towards the family, it is well to let him go as far as he likes in helping other alcoholics.  During those first days of convalescence, this will do more to insure his sobriety than anything else.  Though some of his manifestations are alarming and disagreeable, we think dad will be on a firmer foundation than the man who is placing business or professional success ahead of spiritual development.  He will be less likely to drink again, and anything is preferable to that.
Those of us who have spent much time in the world of spiritual make-believe have eventually seen the childishness of it.  This dream world has been replaced by a great sense of purpose, accompanied by a growing consciousness of the power of God in our lives.  We have come to believe He would like us to keep our heads in the clouds with Him, but that our feet ought to be firmly planted on earth.  That is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done.  These are the realities for us.  We have found nothing incompatible between a powerful spiritual experience and a life of sane and happy usefulness.
One more suggestion:  Whether the family has spiritual convictions or not, they may do well to examine the principles by which the alcoholic member is trying to live.  They can hardly fail to approve these simple principles, though the head of the house still fails somewhat in practicing them.  Nothing will help the man who is off on a spiritual tangent so much as the wife who adopts a sane spiritual program, making a better practical use of it.


October 4 – PM          Page 51, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

This world of ours has made more material progress in the last century than in all the millenniums which went before.  Almost everyone knows the reason.  Students of ancient history tell us that the intellect of men in those days was equal to the best of today.  Yet in ancient times material progress was painfully slow.  The spirit of modern scientific inquiry, research and invention was almost unknown.  In the realm of the material, men’s minds were fettered by superstition, tradition, and all sorts of fixed ideas.  Some of the contemporaries of Columbus thought a round earth preposterous.  Others came near putting Galileo to death for his astronomical heresies.
We asked ourselves this:  Are not some of us just as biased and unreasonable about the realm of the spirit as were the ancients about the realm of the material?

October 4 – AM          Page 9-10, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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 grandfather’s good natured contempt 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 again.


October 5 – PM          Page 87-88, Into Action, Chapter 6

As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.  We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.”  We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions.  We become much more efficient.  We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.

October 5 – AM          Page 65, How It Works, Chapter 5

On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries.  Was it our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations, which had been interfered with?
We were usually as definite as this example:
I’m resentful at:           The Cause                                 Affects my:
Mr. Brown                    His attention to my                    Sex relations.
wife.                                         Self-esteem (fear)
Told my wife of my                    Sex relations.
mistress.                                   Self-esteem (fear)
Brown may get my                     Security.
job at the office.                         Self-esteem (fear)

Mrs. Jones                   She’s a nut—she                         Personal relation-
snubbed me.  She                      ship.  Self-esteem
committed her husband              (fear)
for drinking.  He’s my
friend.  She’s a gossip.

My employer                Unreasonable—Unjust                Self-esteem (fear)
—Overbearing—                        Security.
Threatens to fire me
for drinking and padding
my expense account.

My wife                       Misunderstands and nags.            Pride—Personal
Likes Brown.  Wants                    sex relations—
house put in her name.               Security (fear)


October 6 – PM          Page 158, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

On the third day the lawyer gave his life to the care and direction of his Creator, and said he was perfectly willing to do anything necessary.  His wife came, scarcely daring to be hopeful, though she thought she saw something different about her husband already.  He had begun to have a spiritual experience.
That afternoon he put on his clothes and walked from the hospital a free man.  He entered a political campaign, making speeches, frequenting men’s gathering places of all sorts, often staying up all night.  He lost the race by only a narrow margin.  But he had found God—and in finding God had found himself.
That was in June, 1935.  He never drank again.  He too, has become a respected and useful member of his community.  He has helped other men recover, and is a power in the church from which he was long absent.

October 6 – AM          Page 96-97, Working With Others, Chapter 7

He may be broke and homeless.  If he is, you might try to help him about getting a job, or give him a little financial assistance.  But you should not deprive your family or creditors of money they should have.  Perhaps you will want to take the man into your home for a few days.  But be sure you use discretion.  Be certain he will be welcomed by your family, and that he is not trying to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter.  Permit that and you only harm him.  You will be making it possible for him to be insincere. You may be aiding in his destruction rather than his recovery.


October 7 – PM          Page 20-21, There Is A Solution, Chapter 2

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.

October 7 – AM          Page 111, To Wives, Chapter 8

Be determined that your husband’s drinking is not going to spoil your relations  with your children or your friends.  They need your companionship and your help.  It is possible to have a full and useful life, though your husband continues to drink.  We know women who are unafraid, even happy under these conditions.  Do not set your heart on reforming your husband.  You may be unable to do so, no matter how hard you try.
We know these suggestions are sometimes difficult to follow, but you will save many a heartbreak if you can succeed in observing them.  Your husband may come to appreciate your reasonableness and patience.  This may lay the groundwork for a friendly talk about his alcoholic problem.  Try to have him bring up the subject himself.  Be sure you are not critical during such a discussion.  Attempt instead, to put yourself in his place.  Let him see that you want to be helpful rather than critical.


October 8 – PM          Page 178, Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, Part I

About the time of the beer experiment I was thrown in with a crowd of people who attracted me because of their seeming poise, health, and happiness.  They spoke with great freedom from embarrassment, which I could never do, and they seemed very much at ease on all occasions and appeared very healthy.  More than these attributes, they seemed to be happy.  I was self conscious and ill at ease most of the time, my health was at the breaking point, and I was thoroughly miserable.  I sensed they had something I did not have, from which I might readily profit.  I learned that it was something of a spiritual nature, which did not appeal to me very much, but I thought it could do no harm.  I gave the matter much time and study for the next two and a half years, but still got tight every night nevertheless.  I read everything I could find, and talked to everyone who I thought knew anything about it.

October 8 – AM          Pages 35-36,  More About Alcoholism, Chapter 3

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 re-assembled, 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 alcoholic 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.


October 9 – PM          Page 81-82, Into Action, Chapter 6

Our design for living is not a one-way street.  It is as good for the wife as for the husband.  If we can forget, so can she.  It is better, however, that one does not needlessly name a person upon whom she can vent jealousy.
Perhaps there are some cases where the utmost frankness is demanded.  No outsider can appraise such an intimate situation.  It may be that both will decide that the way of good sense and loving kindness is to let by-gones be by-gones.  Each might pray about it, having the other one’s happiness uppermost in mind.  Keep it always in sight that we are dealing with that most terrible human emotion—jealousy.  Good generalship may decide that the problem be attacked on the flank rather than risk a face-to-face combat.

October 9 – AM           Page 65-66, How It Works, Chapter 5

We went back through our lives.  Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty.  When we were finished we considered it carefully.  The first thing apparent was that this world and its people were often quite wrong.  To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got.  The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore.  Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves.  But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got.  As in war, the victor only seemed to win.  Our moments of triumph were short-lived.


October 10 – PM          Page 130-131, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

There will be other profound changes in the household.  Liquor incapacitated father for so many years that mother became head of the house.  She met these responsibilities gallantly.  By force of circumstances, she was often obliged to treat father as a sick or wayward child.  Even when he wanted to assert himself he could not, for his drinking placed him constantly in the wrong.  Mother made all the plans and gave the directions.  When sober, father usually obeyed.  Thus mother, through no fault of her own, became accustomed to wearing the family trousers.  Father, coming suddenly to life again, often begins to assert himself.  This means trouble, unless the family watches for these tendencies in each other and comes to a friendly agreement about them.

October 10 – AM          Page 6-7, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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 madness were on me.  Again I swayed dizzily before an open window, or the medicine cabinet where there was poison, cursing 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.  Somehow 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 kindness 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 mentally.


October 11 – PM          Page xi-xii, Preface

The second edition added the appendices, the Twelve Traditions, and the directions for getting in touch with A.A.  But the chief change was in the section of personal stories, which was expanded to reflect the Fellowship’s growth.  “Bill’s Story,”  “Doctor Bob’s Nightmare,” and one other personal history from the first edition were retained intact; three were edited and one of these was retitled; new versions of two stories were written, with new titles; thirty completely new stories were added; and the story section was divided into three parts, under the same headings that are used now.
In this third edition, Part I (“Pioneers of A.A.”) stands unchanged.  Nine of the stories in Part II (“They Stopped in Time”) are carried over from the second edition; eight new stories have been added.  In Part III (“They Lost Nearly All”), eight stories have been retained; five are new.

October 11 – AM          Page 141, To Employers, Chapter 10

This is not to say that all alcoholics are honest and upright when not drinking.  Of course that isn’t so, and such people often may impose on you.  Seeing your attempt to understand and help, some men will try to take advantage of your kindness.  If you are sure your man does not want to stop, he may as well be discharged, the sooner the better.  You are not doing him a favor by keeping him on.  Firing such an individual may prove a blessing to him.  It may be just the jolt he needs.  I know, in my own particular case, that nothing my company could have done would have stopped me for, so long as I was able to hold my position, I could not possibly realize how serious my situation was.  Had they fired me first, and had they then taken steps to see that I was presented with the solution contained in this book, I might have returned to them six months later, a well man.


October 12 – PM          Page 97, Working With Others, Chapter 7

Never avoid these responsibilities, but be sure you are doing the right thing if you assume them.  Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery.  A kindly act once in a while isn’t enough.  You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be.  It may mean the loss of many nights’ sleep, great interference with your pleasures, interruptions to your business.  It may mean sharing your money and your home, counseling frantic wives and relatives, innumerable trips  to police courts, sanitariums, hospitals, jails and asylums. Your telephone may jangle at any time of the day or night.  Your wife may sometimes say she is neglected.  A drunk may smash the furniture in your home, or burn a mattress.  You may have to fight with him if he is violent.  Sometimes you will have to call a doctor and administer sedatives under his direction.  Another time you may have to send for the police or an ambulance.  Occasionally you will have to meet such conditions.

October 12 – AM          Page 24, There Is A Solution, Chapter 2

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.  Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.  We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.  We are without defense against the first drink.


October 13 – PM          Page 158-159, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

So, you see, there were three alcoholics in that town, who now  felt they had to give to others what they had found, or be sunk.  After several failures to find others, a fourth turned up.  He came through an acquaintance who had heard the good news.  He proved to be a devil-may-care young fellow whose parents could not make out whether he wanted to stop drinking or not.  They were deeply religious people, much shocked by their son’s refusal to have anything to do with the church.  He suffered horribly from his sprees, but it seemed as if nothing could be done for him.  He consented, however, to go to the hospital, where he occupied the very room recently vacated by the lawyer.
He had three visitors.  After a bit, he said, “The way you fellows put this spiritual stuff makes sense.  I’m ready to do business.  I guess the old folks were right after all.”  So one more was added to the Fellowship.

October 13 – AM          Page 82, Into Action, Chapter 6

If we have no such complication, there is plenty we should do at home.  Sometimes we hear an alcoholic say that the only thing he needs to do is to keep sober.  Certainly he must keep sober, for there will be no home if he doesn’t.  But he is yet a long way from making good to the wife or parents whom for years he has so shockingly treated.  Passing all understanding is the patience mothers and wives have had with alcoholics.  Had this not been so, many of us would have no homes today, would perhaps be dead.


October 14 – PM          Page 51-52, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

Even in the present century, American newspapers were afraid to print an account of the Wright brothers’ first successful flight at Kitty Hawk.  Had not all efforts at flight failed before?  Did not Professor Langley’s flying machine go to the bottom of the Potomac River?  Was it not true that the best mathematical minds had proved man could never fly?  Had not people said God had reserved this privilege to the birds?  Only thirty years later the conquest of the air was almost an old story and airplane travel was in full swing.
But in most fields our generation has witnessed complete liberation of our thinking.  Show any longshoreman a Sunday supplement describing a proposal to explore the moon by means of a rocket and he will say, “I bet they do it—maybe not so long either.”  Is not our age characterized by the ease with which we discard old ideas for new, by the complete readiness with which we throw away the theory or gadget which does not work for something new which does?

October 14 – AM          Page xviii-xix, Foreword to Second Edition (1955)

In the spring of 1940, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave a dinner for many of his friends to which he invited A.A. members to tell their stories.  News of this got on the world wires; inquiries poured in again and many people went to the bookstores to get the book “Alcoholics Anonymous.”  By March 1941 the membership had shot up to 2,000.  Then Jack Alexander wrote a feature article in the Saturday Evening Post and placed such a compelling picture of A.A. before the general public that alcoholics in need of help really deluged us.  By the close of 1941, A.A. numbered 8,000 members.  The mushrooming process was in full swing.  A.A. had become a national institution.
Our Society then entered a fearsome and exciting adolescent period.  The test that it faced was this:  Could these large numbers of erstwhile erratic alcoholics successfully meet and work together?  Would there be quarrels over membership, leadership and money?  Would there be strivings for power and prestige?  Would there be schisms which would split A.A. apart?  Soon A.A. was beset by these very problems on every side and in every group.  But out of this frightening and at first disrupting experience the conviction grew that A.A.’s had to hang together or die separately.  We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene.


October 15 – PM          Page 114, To Wives, Chapter 8

There are exceptions.  Some men have been so impaired by alcohol that they cannot stop.  Sometimes there are cases where alcoholism is complicated by other disorders.  A good doctor or psychiatrist can tell you whether these complications are serious.  In any event, try to have your husband read this book.  His reaction may be one of enthusiasm.  If he is already committed to an institution, but can convince you and your doctor that he means business, give him a chance to try our method, unless the doctor thinks his mental condition too abnormal or dangerous.  We make this recommendation with some confidence.  For years we have been working with alcoholics committed to institutions.  Since this book was first published, A.A. has released thousands of alcoholics from asylums and hospitals of every kind.  The majority have never returned.  The power of God goes deep!

October 15 – AM          Page 66, How It Works, Chapter 5

It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness.  To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while.  But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave.  We found that it is fatal.  For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit.  The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again.  And with us, to drink is to die.
If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.  The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us.  They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison.
We turned back to the list, for it held the key to the future.  We were prepared to look at it from an entirely different angle.  We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us.  In that state, the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill.  How could we escape?  We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how?  We could not wish them away any more than alcohol.


October 16 – PM          Page 10, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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 chemists, 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.

October 16 – AM          Page 36-37, More About Alcoholism, Chapter 3

“Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were 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 into the milk.  I vaguely sensed I was not being any too smart, but felt reassured as I was taking the whiskey 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.  Yet all reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that 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?


October 17 – PM          Page 131, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

Drinking isolates most homes from the outside world.  Father may have laid aside for years all normal activities—clubs, civic duties, sports.  When he renews interest in such things, a feeling of jealousy may arise.  The family may feel they hold a mortgage on dad, so big that no equity should be left for outsiders.  Instead of developing new channels of activity for themselves, mother and children demand that he stay home and make up the deficiency.
At the very beginning, the couple ought to frankly face the fact that each will have to yield here and there if the family is going to play an effective part in the new life.  Father will necessarily spend much time with other alcoholics, but this activity should be balanced.  New acquaintances who know nothing of alcoholism might be made and thoughtful consideration given their needs.  The problems of the community might engage attention.  Though the family has no religious connections, they may wish to make contact with or take membership in a religious body.

October 17 – AM          Page 178-179, Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, Part I

My wife became deeply interested and it was her interest that sustained mine, though I at no time sensed that it might be an answer to my liquor problem.  How my wife kept her faith and courage during all those years, I’ll never know, but she did.  If she had not, I know I would have been dead a long time ago.  For some reason, we alcoholics seem to have the gift of picking out the world’s finest women.  Why they should be subjected to the tortures we inflict upon them, I cannot explain.
About this time a lady called up my wife one Saturday afternoon, saying she wanted me to come over that evening to meet a friend of hers who might help me.  It was the day before Mother’s Day and I had come home plastered, carrying a big potted plant which I set down on the table and forthwith went upstairs and passed out.  The next day she called again.  Wishing to be polite, though I felt very badly, I said, “Let’s make the call,” and extracted from my wife a promise that we would not stay over fifteen minutes.


October 18 – PM          Page 97, Working With Others, Chapter 7

We seldom allow an alcoholic to live in our homes for long at a time.  It is not good for him, and it sometimes creates serious complications in a family.
Though an alcoholic does not respond, there is no reason why you should neglect his family.  You should continue to be friendly to them.  The family should be offered your way of life.  Should they accept and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better chance that the head of the family will recover.  And even though he continues to drink, the family will find life more bearable.

October 18 – AM          Page 82, Into Action, Chapter 6

The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others.  Hearts are broken.  Sweet relationships are dead.  Affections have been uprooted.  Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil.  We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough.  He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined.  To his wife, he remarked, “Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma.  Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’?”


October 19 – PM          Page 159, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

All this time our friend of the hotel lobby incident remained in that town.  He was there three months.  He now returned home, leaving behind his first acquaintance, the lawyer and the devil-may-care chap.  These men had found something brand new in life. Though they knew they must help other alcoholics if they would remain sober, that motive became secondary.  It was transcended by the happiness they found in giving themselves for others.  They shared their homes, their slender resources, and gladly devoted their spare hours to fellow-sufferers.  They were willing, by day or night, to place a new man in the hospital and visit him afterward.  They grew in numbers.  They experienced a few distressing failures, but in those cases they made an effort to bring the man’s family into a spiritual way of living, thus relieving much worry and suffering.

October 19 – AM          Page 24, There Is A Solution, Chapter 2

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.


October 20 – PM          Page 68, How It Works, Chapter 5

We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator.  We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness.  Paradoxically, it is the way of strength.  The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage.  All men of faith have courage.  They trust their God.  We never apologize for God.  Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do.  We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be.  At once, we commence to outgrow fear.

October 20 – AM          Page 39-40, More About Alcoholism, Chapter 3

Fred is partner in a well know 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 everyone.  If ever there 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 alcoholic, 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.


October 21 – PM          Page 52, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

We had to ask ourselves why we shouldn’t apply to our human problems this same readiness to change our point of view.  We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people—was not a basic solution of these bedevilments more important than whether we should see newsreels of lunar flight?  Of course it was.
When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God.  Our ideas did not work.  But the God idea did.

October 21 – AM          Page xxviii-xxix, The Doctor’s Opinion

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, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules.


October 22 – PM          Page 14, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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.

October 22 – AM          Page 97-98, Working With Others, Chapter 7

For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is needed or wanted.  The men who cry for money and shelter before conquering alcohol, are on the wrong track.  Yet we do go to great extremes to provide each other with these very things, when such action is warranted.  This may seem inconsistent, but we think it is not.
It is not the matter of giving that is in question, but when and how to give.  That often makes the difference between failure and success.  The minute we put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God.  He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for.  Nonsense.  Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth:  Job or no job—wife or no wife—we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.
Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone.  The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house.


October 23 – PM          Page 83, Into Action, Chapter 6

Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead.  We must take the lead.  A remorseful mumbling that we are sorry won’t fill the bill at all.  We ought to sit down with the family and frankly analyze the past as we now see it, being very careful not to criticize them.  Their defects may be glaring, but the chances are that our own actions are partly responsible.  So we clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love.

October 23 – AM          Page 179-180, Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, Part I

We entered her house at exactly five o’clock and it was eleven fifteen when we left.  I had a couple of shorter talks with this man afterward, and stopped drinking abruptly.  This dry spell lasted for about three weeks; then I went to Atlantic City to attend several days’ meeting of a national society of which I was a member.  I drank all the scotch they had on the train and bought several quarts on my way to the hotel.  This was on Sunday.  I got tight that night, stayed sober Monday till after the dinner and then proceeded to get tight again.  I drank all I dared in the bar, and then went to my room to finish the job.  Tuesday I started in the morning, getting well organized by noon.  I did not want to disgrace myself so I then checked out.  I bought some more liquor on the way to the depot.  I had to wait some time for the train.  I remember nothing from then on until I woke up at a friend’s house, in a town near home.  These good people notified my wife, who sent my newly made friend over to get me.  He came and got me home and to bed, gave me a few drinks that night, and one bottle of beer the next morning.
That was June 10, 1935, and that was my last drink.  As I write nearly four years have passed.


October 24 – PM          Page 568, Spiritual Experience, Appendix II

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
—HERBERT  SPENCER

October 24 – AM          Page 115-116, To Wives, Chapter 8

The same principle applies in dealing with the children.  Unless they actually need protection from their father, it is best not to take sides in any argument he has with them while drinking.  Use your energies to promote a better understanding all around.  Then that terrible tension which grips the home of every problem drinker will be lessened.
Frequently, you have felt obliged to tell your husband’s employer and his friends that he was sick, when as a matter of fact he was tight.  Avoid answering these inquiries as much as you can.  Whenever possible, let your husband explain.  Your desire to protect him should not cause you to lie to people when they have a right to know where he is and what he is doing.  Discuss this with him when he is sober and in good spirits.  Ask him what you should do if he places you in such a position again.  But be careful not to be resentful about the last time he did so.
There is another paralyzing fear.  You may be afraid your husband will lose his position; you are thinking of the disgrace and hard times which will befall you and the children.  This experience may come to you.  Or you may already have had it several times.  Should it happen again, regard it in a different light.  Maybe it will prove a blessing!  It may convince your husband he wants to stop drinking forever.  And now you know that he can stop if he will!  Time after time, this apparent calamity has been a boon to us, for it opened up a path which led to the discovery of God.


October 25 – PM          Page 70-71, How It Works, Chapter 5

If we have been thorough about our personal inventory, we have written down a lot.  We have listed and analyzed our resentments.  We have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality.  We have commenced to see their terrible destructiveness.  We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on them as sick people.  We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can.
In this book you read again and again that faith did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  We hope you are convinced now that God can remove whatever self-will has blocked you off from Him.  If you have already made a decision, and an inventory of your grosser handicaps, you have made a good beginning.  That being so you have swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about yourself.

October 25 – AM          Page xix, Foreward To Second Edition (1955)

As we discovered the principles by which the individual alcoholic could live, so we had to evolve principles by which the A.A. groups and A.A. as a whole could survive and function effectively.  It was thought that no alcoholic man or woman could be excluded from our Society; that our leaders might serve but never govern; that each group was to be autonomous and there was to be no professional class of therapy.  There were to be no fees or dues; our expenses were to be met by our own voluntary contributions.  There was to be the least possible organization, even in our service centers.  Our public relations were to be based upon attraction rather than promotion.  It was decided that all members ought to be anonymous at the level of press, radio, TV and films.  And in no circumstances should we give endorsements, make alliances, or enter public controversies.
This was the substance of A.A.’s Twelve Traditions, which are stated in full on page 564 of this book.  Though none of these principles had the force of rules or laws, they had become so widely accepted by 1950 that they were confirmed by our first International Conference held at Cleveland.  Today the remarkable unity of A.A. is one of the greatest assets that our Society has.


October 26 – PM          Page 131-132, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

Alcoholics who have derided religious people will be helped by such contacts.  Being possessed of a spiritual experience, the alcoholic will find he has much in common with these people, though he may differ with them on many matters.  If he does not argue about religion, he will make new friends and is sure to find new avenues of usefulness and pleasure.  He and his family can be a bright spot in such congregations.  He may bring new hope and new courage to many a priest, minister, or rabbi, who gives his all to minister to our troubled world.  We intend the foregoing as a helpful suggestion only.  So far as we are concerned, there is nothing obligatory about it.  As non-denominational people, we cannot make up others’ minds for them.  Each individual should consult his own conscience.

October 26 – AM          Page 159-160, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

A year and six months later these three had succeeded with seven more.  Seeing much of each other, scarce an evening passed that someone’s home did not shelter a little gathering of men and women, happy in their release, and constantly thinking how they might present their discovery to some newcomer.  In addition to these casual get-togethers, it became customary to set apart one night a week for a meeting to be attended by anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life.  Aside from fellowship and sociability, the prime object was to provide a time and place where new people might bring their problems.


October 27 – PM          Page 24-25, There Is A Solution, Chapter 2

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 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 have been thousands more convincing demonstrations.  So many want to stop but cannot.

October 27 – AM          Page 83, Into Action, Chapter 6

The spiritual life is not a theory.  We have to live it.  Unless one’s family expresses a desire to live upon spiritual principles we think we ought not to urge them.  We should not talk incessantly to them about spiritual matters.  They will change in time.  Our behavior will convince them more than our words.  We must remember that ten or twenty years of drunkenness would make a skeptic out of anyone.


October 28 – PM          Page 52-53, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

The Wright brothers’ almost childish faith that they could build a machine which would fly was the mainspring of their accomplishment.  Without that, nothing could have happened.  We agnostics and atheists were sticking to the idea that self-sufficiency would solve our problems.  When others showed us that “God-sufficiency” worked with them, we began to feel like those who had insisted the Wrights would never fly.

October 28 – AM          Page 70, How It Works, Chapter 5

Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble?  Does this mean we are going to get drunk?  Some people tell us so.  But this is only a half-truth.  It depends on us and on our motives.  If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson.  If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink.  We are not theorizing.  These are facts out of our experience.
To sum up about sex:  We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing.  If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others.  We think of their needs and work for them.  This takes us out of ourselves.  It quiets the imperious urge, when to yield would mean heartache.


October 29 – PM          Page 160, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

Outsiders became interested.  One man and his wife placed their large home at the disposal of this strangely assorted crowd.  This couple has since become so fascinated that they have dedicated their home to the work.  Many a distracted wife has visited this house to find loving and understanding companionship among women who knew her problem, to hear from the lips of their husbands what had happened to them, to be advised how her own wayward mate might be hospitalized and approached when next he stumbled.

October 29 – AM           Page 37, More About Alcoholism, Chapter 3

You may think this an extreme case.  To us it is not far-fetched, for this kind of thinking has been characteristic of every single one of us.  We have sometimes reflected more than Jim did upon the consequences.  But there was always the curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably 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 justification 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.


October 30 – PM          Page 83, Into Action, Chapter 6

There may be some wrongs we can never fully right.  We don’t worry about them if we can honestly say to ourselves that we would right them if we could.  Some people cannot be seen—we send them an honest letter.  And there may be a valid reason for postponement in some cases.  But we don’t delay if it can be avoided.  We should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping.  As God’s people we stand on our feet; we don’t crawl before anyone.

October 30 – AM          Page 53, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

Logic is great stuff.  We liked it.  We still like it.  It is not by chance we were given the power to reason, to examine the evidence of our senses, and to draw conclusions.  That is one of man’s magnificent attributes.  We agnostically inclined would not feel satisfied with a proposal which does not lend itself to reasonable approach and interpretation.  Hence we are at pains to tell why we think our present faith is reasonable, why we think it more sane and logical to believe than not to believe, why we say our former thinking was soft and mushy when we threw up our hands in doubt and said, “We don’t know.”


October 31 – PM          Page 98-99, Working With Others, Chapter 7

Now, the domestic problem:  There may be divorce, separation, or just strained relations.  When your prospect has made such reparation as he can to his family, and has thoroughly explained to them the new principles by which he is living, he should proceed to put those principles into action at home.  That is, if he is lucky enough to have a home.  Though his family be at fault in many respects, he should not be concerned about that.  He should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration.  Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague.  In many homes this is a difficult thing to do, but it must be done if any results are to be expected.  If persisted in for a few months, the effect on a man’s family is sure to be great.  The most incompatible people discover they have a basis upon which they can meet.  Little by little the family may see their own defects and admit them.  These can then be discussed in an atmosphere of helpfulness and friendliness.

October 31 – AM          Page 11, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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.

Reprinted from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.