About US

Group Conscience Governs

Summary and Table of Contents

This section details the workings of the HIW Group and how it has evolved over time. It is included here with hope that other How It Works groups may be formed, taking advantage of our experience.

Group Conscience Meetings: The How It Works groups began in December, 1990, as the result of a group conscience meeting. The internal processes, principles, and practices of the HIW group have evolved over time, but all changes have been voted upon at formal group conscience meetings. We found this format to be most effective in helping to keep the group and its meetings healthy.

Two Meetings a Day: In order to make the HIW approach to sobriety available in the most effective manner possible, especially for the newcomer, meetings are held twice a day.

Fifth Step – Seeing the Priest: The How It Works group suggests newcomers complete the Fifth Step with an ordained priest or minister. The group conscience suggests this is the most effective way (1) to encourage the individual to be completely honest, (2) to waste no time after completion of the Fourth Step inventory, and (3) to ensure the confidentiality of the process.

Cake Night: At each daily meeting, HIW offers “twenty-four hour,” 30-, 60-, and 90-day chips in brief recognition of those initial periods of continuous sobriety. A separate “Cake Night” each month allows special attention to be directed at longer term “sobriety celebrants” without detracting from the regular meeting and its focus upon the topic of the Daily Reading.

Children, Animals, Cell Phones, and other Distractions/Disruptions are Inappropriate at Meetings: The HIW group wants common sense, common decency, and respect for others to guide the conduct of its meetings. It is in the spirit of mutual respect that members are asked to turn off their cell phones and are encouraged not to bring non-alcoholic children or pets to the meeting.

Meeting Discussion and Sharing is Done by Going Once Around the Room: Upon completion of the announcements and the daily reading, the meeting leader “passes” to another person. The sharing continues to move in an orderly direction from person to person around the room. Each member introduces himself and then is free to “share” or to “pass” as their turn arrives.

No Dues or Fees, but We Do Pass the Basket – We are Self-supporting through Our Own Contributions: Many of the practices and principles of the How It Works group are indirectly guided by the fact that we take seriously A.A.’s Seventh Tradition: “The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members.” Learning to take responsibility to support the clubroom through attendance, participation, and financially supporting it by putting money in the basket is important for spiritual growth.

Group Support Rather than Individual Sponsorship: When a newcomer becomes an active supporter of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, he taps into a source of power much greater than himself and the transition from a self-centered person “getting help” to a recovered person “giving help” is hastened.

Daily Reading Book: “If you are so proud of your supposed connection to the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, …why don’t you just read from the Big Book?” That simple question led to the HIW Daily Readings Book. After its adoption, the How It Works group began to grow in membership and it became more unified.

Big Book Study Meetings and the Step Sheets: A big attraction of the How It Works group is the promise made to the alcoholic that if he/she attends the annual How It Works group study of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A., the “Big Book”), attends HIW meetings on a daily basis, does the required twelve-step work, and becomes an active member of the group, he/she would find a solution to alcoholism. Rarely have we seen a person fail who thoroughly followed this path.

The AA Promises

  1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.

  2. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

  3. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

  4. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

  5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

  6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

  7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

  8. Self-seeking will slip away.

  9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

  10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

  11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

  12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

This page is available in Microsoft Word format here and in Adobe Acrobat format here.

Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84

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

Alcoholics Anonymous Appendix I

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

The How It Works Preamble

The “How It Works Group” of Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

There are no dues or fees to pay, we are self-supporting through our own contributions.

The tremendous fact for us is that we have discovered a common solution to alcoholism. 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 contained in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the sole purpose of our group is to carry this message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

If you are as seriously afflicted by alcoholism as we are, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and once we passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This we did because we honestly wanted to, and were willing to make the effort.

Our preamble is available in Microsoft Word format here and in Adobe Acrobat format here.

The How It Works Preamble is based on the original preamble from the A.A. Grapevine but has been modified for our own use. Reprinted with permission of The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.