9 – Daily Readings September

The September Daily Readings from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

September 1 – PM          Page 63, How It Works, Chapter 5

When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed.  We had a new Employer.  Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well.  Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs.  More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.  As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter.  We were reborn.

September 1 – AM          Page 77, Into Action, Chapter 6

We don’t use this as an excuse for shying away from the subject of God.  When it will serve any good purpose, we are willing to announce our convictions with tact and common sense.  The question of how to approach the man we hated will arise.  It may be he has  done us more harm than we have done him and, though we may have acquired a better attitude toward him, we are still not too keen about admitting our faults.  Nevertheless, with a person we dislike, we take the bit in our teeth.  It is harder to go to an enemy than to a friend, but we find it much more beneficial to us.  We go to him in a helpful and forgiving spirit, confessing our former ill feeling and expressing our regret.

September 2 – PM          Page 108-109, To Wives, Chapter 8

The problem with which you struggle usually falls within one of four categories:
One:  Your husband may be only a heavy drinker.  His drinking may be constant or it may be heavy only on certain occasions.  Perhaps he spends too much money for liquor.  It may be slowing him up mentally and physically, but he does not see it.  Sometimes he is a source of embarrassment to you and his friends.  He is positive he can handle his liquor, that it does him no harm, that drinking is necessary in his business.  He would probably be insulted if he were called an alcoholic.  This world is full of people like him.  Some will moderate or stop altogether, and some will not.  Of those who keep on, a good number will become true alcoholics after a while.

September 2 – 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.

September 3 – PM          Page 127, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

The head of the house ought to remember that he is mainly to blame for what befell his home.  He can scarcely square the account in his lifetime.  But he must see the danger of over-concentration on financial success.  Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first.  For us, material well-being always followed spiritual progress; it never preceded.
Since the home has suffered more than anything else, it is well that a man exert himself there.  He is not likely to get far in any direction if he fails to show unselfishness and love under his own roof.  We know there are difficult wives and families, but the man who is getting over alcoholism must remember he did much to make them so.

September 3 – AM          Page 155-156, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

Being intrigued, however, he invited our friend to his home.  Some time later, and just as he thought he was getting control of his liquor situation, he went on a roaring bender.  For him, this was the spree that ended all sprees.  He saw that he would have to face his problems squarely that God might give him mastery.
One morning he took the bull by the horns and set out to tell those he feared what his trouble had been.  He found himself surprisingly well received, and learned that many knew of his drinking.  Stepping into his car, he made the rounds of people he had hurt.  He trembled as he went about, for this might mean ruin, particularly to a person in his line of business.
At midnight he came home exhausted, but very happy.  He has not had a drink since. As we shall see, he now means a great deal to his community, and the major liabilities of thirty years of hard drinking have been repaired in four.

September 4 – PM          Page 568, Spiritual Experience, Appendix II

Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience.  Our more religious members call it “God-consciousness.”
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.  He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.
We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program.  Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery.  But these are indispensable.

September 4 – AM          Page 114, To Wives, Chapter 8

You may have the reverse situation on your hands.  Perhaps you have a husband who is at large, but who should be committed.  Some men cannot or will not get over alcoholism.  When they become too dangerous, we think the kind thing is to lock them up, but of course a good doctor should always be consulted.  The wives and children of such men suffer horribly, but not more than the men themselves.
But sometimes you must start life anew.  We know women who have done it.  If such women adopt a spiritual way of life their road will be smoother.

September 5 – PM          Page 20, There Is A Solution, Chapter 2

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 ignorance and misunderstanding.  We see that these expressions refer to people whose reactions are very different from ours.

September 5 – AM          Page 48-49, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

The prosaic steel girder is a mass of electrons whirling around each other at incredible speed.  These tiny bodies are governed by precise laws, and these laws hold true throughout the material world.  Science tells us so.  We have no reason to doubt it.  When, however, the perfectly logical assumption is suggested that underneath the material world and life as we see it, there is an All Powerful, Guiding, Creative Intelligence, right there our perverse streak comes to the surface and we laboriously set out to convince ourselves it isn’t so.  We read wordy books and indulge in windy arguments, thinking we believe this universe needs no God to explain it.  Were our contentions true, it would follow that life originated out of nothing, means nothing, and proceeds nowhere.
Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God’s ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all.  Rather vain of us, wasn’t it?

September 6 – PM          Page 63, How It Works, Chapter 5

We were now at Step Three.  Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: “God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.  Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.  Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.  May I do Thy will always!”  We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.

September 6 – AM          Page 177, Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, Part I

I will not take space to relate all my hospital or sanitarium experiences.
During all this time we became more or less ostracized by our friends.  We could not be invited out because I would surely get tight and my wife dared not invite people in for the same reason.  My phobia for sleeplessness demanded that I get drunk every night, but in order to get more liquor for the next night, I had to stay sober during the day, at least up to four o’clock.  This routine went on with few interruptions for seventeen years.  It was really a horrible nightmare, this earning money, getting liquor, smuggling it home, getting drunk, morning jitters, taking large doses of sedatives to make it possible for me to earn more money, and so on ad nauseam.  I used to promise my wife, my friends, and my children that I would drink no more—promises which seldom kept me sober even through the day, though I was very sincere when I made them.

September 7 – PM          Page 77-78, Into Action, Chapter 6

Under no condition do we criticize such a person or argue.  Simply we tell him that we will never get over drinking until we have done our utmost to straighten out the past.  We are there to sweep off our side of the street, realizing that nothing worth while can be accomplished until we do so, never trying to tell him what he should do.  His faults are not discussed.  We stick to our own.  If our manner is calm, frank, and open, we will be gratified with the result.

September 7 – AM          Page 7, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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 incredible 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 hospital.  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.

September 8 – PM          Page 109, To Wives, Chapter 8

Two:  Your husband is showing lack of control, for he is unable to stay on the water wagon even when he wants to.  He often gets entirely out of hand when drinking.  He admits this is true, but is positive that he will do better.  He has begun to try, with or without your cooperation, various means of moderating or staying dry.  Maybe he is beginning to lose his friends.  His business may suffer somewhat.  He is worried at times, and is becoming aware that he cannot drink like other people.  He sometimes drinks in the morning and through the day also, to hold his nervousness in check.  He is remorseful after serious drinking bouts and tells you  he wants to stop.  But when he gets over the spree, he begins to think once more how he can drink moderately next time.  We think this person is in danger.  These are the earmarks of a real alcoholic.  Perhaps he can still tend to business fairly well.  He has by no means ruined everything.  As we say among ourselves, “He wants to want to stop.”

September 8 – AM          Page 94, Working With Others, Chapter 7

Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him.  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.  Make it plain he is under no obligation to you, that you hope only that he will try to help other alcoholics when he escapes his own difficulties.  Suggest how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own.  Make it clear that he is not under pressure, that he needn’t see you again if he doesn’t want to.  You should not be offended if he wants to call it off, for he has helped you more than you have helped him.  If your talk has been sane, quiet and full of human understanding, you have perhaps made a friend.  Maybe you have disturbed him about the question of alcoholism.  This is all to the good.  The more hopeless he feels, the better.  He will be more likely to follow your suggestions.

September 9 – PM          Page 127-128, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

As each member of a resentful family begins to see his shortcomings and admits them to the others, he lays a basis for helpful discussion.  These family talks will be constructive if they can be carried on without heated argument, self-pity, self-justification or resentful criticism.  Little by little, mother and children will see they ask too much, and father will see he gives too little.  Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle.

September 9 – AM          Page 33-34, More About Alcoholism, Chapter 3

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!*

* True when this book was first published.  But a 1996 U.S. / Canada membership survey showed about one-fifth of A.A.’s were 30 and under.

September 10 – PM          Page 567-568, Spiritual Experience, Appendix II

In the first few chapters a number of sudden revolutionary changes are described.  Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless 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.
Among our rapidly growing membership of thousands of alcoholics such transformations, though frequent, are by no means the rule.  Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the “educational variety” because they develop slowly over a period of time.  Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself.  He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone.  What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline.  With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.

September 10 – AM          Page 157-158, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

He interrupted:  “I used to be strong for the church, but that won’t fix it.  I’ve prayed to God on hangover mornings and sworn that I’d never touch another drop but by nine o’clock I’d be boiled as an owl.”
Next day found the prospect more receptive.  He had been thinking it over.  “Maybe you’re right,” he said.  “God ought to be able to do anything.”  Then he added, “He sure didn’t do much for me when I was trying to fight this booze racket alone.”

September 11 – PM          Page 49-50, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion.  We have learned that whatever the human frailties of various faiths may be, those faiths have given purpose and direction to millions.  People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about.  Actually, we used to have no reasonable conception whatever.  We used to amuse ourselves by cynically dissecting spiritual beliefs and practices when we might have observed that many spiritually-minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought ourselves.
Instead, we looked at the human defects of these people, and sometimes used their shortcomings as a basis of wholesale condemnation.  We talked of intolerance, while we were intolerant ourselves.  We missed the reality and the beauty of the forest because we were diverted by the ugliness of some of its trees.  We never gave the spiritual side of life a fair hearing.

September 11 – AM          Page xiii, Foreword to First Edition (1939)

It is important that we remain anonymous because we are too few, at present to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which may result from this publication.  Being mostly business or professional folk, we could not well carry on our occupations in such an event.  We would like it understood that our alcoholic work is an avocation.
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.”
Very earnestly we ask the press also, to observe this request, for otherwise we shall be greatly handicapped.

September 12 – PM          Page 78, Into Action, Chapter 6

In nine cases out of ten the unexpected happens.  Sometimes the man we are calling upon admits his own fault, so feuds of years’ standing melt away in an hour.  Rarely do we fail to make satisfactory progress.  Our former enemies sometimes praise what we are doing and wish us well.  Occasionally, they will offer assistance.  It should not matter, however, if someone does throw us out of his office.  We have made our demonstration, done our part.  It’s water over the dam.

September 12 – AM          Page 7-8, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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 procession 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.

September 13 – PM          Page 63, How It Works, Chapter 5

We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend, or spiritual adviser.  But it is better to meet God alone than with one who might misunderstand.  The wording was, of course, quite optional so long as we expressed the idea, voicing it without reservation.  This was only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once.

September 13 – AM          Page xvii-xviii, Foreword to Second Edition (1955)

With the appearance of the new book a great deal began to happen.  Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, the noted clergyman, reviewed it with approval.  In the fall of 1939 Fulton Oursler, then editor of Liberty, printed a piece in his magazine, called “Alcoholics and God.”  This brought a rush of 800 frantic inquiries into the little New York office which meanwhile had been established.  Each inquiry was painstakingly answered; pamphlets and books were sent out.  Businessmen, traveling out of existing groups, were referred to these prospective newcomers.  New groups started up and it was found, to the astonishment of everyone, that A.A.’s message could be transmitted in the mail as well as by word of mouth.  By the end of 1939 it was estimated that 800 alcoholics were on their way to recovery.

September 14 – PM          Page xxvii-xxviii, The Doctor’s Opinion

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 death.
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.

September 14 – AM          Page 94, Working With Others, Chapter 7

Your candidate may give reasons why he need not follow all of the program.  He may rebel at the thought of a drastic housecleaning which requires discussion with other people.  Do not contradict such views.  Tell him you once felt as he does, but you doubt whether you would have made much progress had you not taken action.  On your first visit tell him about the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  If he shows interest, lend him your copy of this book.

September 15 – PM          Page 128, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

Assume on the other hand that father has, at the outset, a stirring spiritual experience.  Overnight, as it were, he is a different man.  He becomes a religious enthusiast.  He is unable to focus on anything else.  As soon as his sobriety begins to be taken as a matter of course, the family may look at their strange new dad with apprehension, then with irritation.  There is talk about spiritual matters morning, noon and night.  He may demand that the family find God in a hurry, or exhibit amazing indifference to them and say he is above worldly considerations.  He may tell mother, who has been religious all her life, that she doesn’t know what it’s all about, and that she had better get his brand of spirituality while there is yet time.

September 15 – AM          Page 109-110, To Wives, Chapter 8

Three:  This husband has gone much further than husband number two.  Though once like number two he became worse.  His friends have slipped away, his home is a near-wreck and he cannot hold a position.  Maybe the doctor has been called in, and the weary round of sanitariums and hospitals has begun.  He admits he cannot drink like other people, but does not see why.  He clings to the notion that he will yet find a way to do so.  He may have come to the point where he desperately wants to stop but cannot.  His case presents additional questions which we shall try to answer for you.  You can be quite hopeful of a situation like this.

September 16 – PM          Page 157, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

Hopelessness was written large on the man’s face as he replied, “Oh, but that’s no use.  Nothing would fix me.  I’m a goner.  The last three times, I got drunk on the way home from here.  I’m afraid to go out the door.  I can’t understand it.”
For an hour, the two friends told him about their drinking experiences.  Over and over, he would say:  “That’s me.  That’s me.  I drink like that.”
The man in the bed was told of the acute poisoning from which he suffered, how it deteriorates the body of an alcoholic and warps his mind.  There was much talk about the mental state preceding the first drink.
“Yes, that’s me,” said the sick man, “the very image.  You fellows know your stuff all right, but I don’t see what good it’ll do.  You fellows are somebody.  I was once, but I’m a nobody now.  From what you tell me, I know more than ever I can’t stop.”  At this both the visitors burst into a laugh.  Said the future Fellow Anonymous:  “Damn little to laugh about that I can see.”
The two friends spoke of their spiritual experience and told him about the course of action they carried out.

September 16 – AM          Page 34, More About Alcoholism, Chapter 3

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.

September 17 – PM          Page 177-178, Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, Part I

For the benefit of those experimentally inclined, I should mention the so-called beer experiment.  When beer first came back, I thought that I was safe.  I could drink all I wanted of that.  It was harmless; nobody ever got drunk on beer.  So I filled the cellar full, with the permission of my good wife.  It was not long before I was drinking at least a case and a half a day.  I put on thirty pounds of weight in about two months, looked like a pig, and was uncomfortable from shortness of breath.  It then occurred to me that after one was all smelled up with beer nobody could tell what had been drunk, so I began to fortify my beer with straight alcohol.  Of course, the result was very bad, and that ended the beer experiment.

September 17 – AM          Page 18, There Is A Solution, Chapter 2

We hope this volume will inform and comfort those who are, or who may be affected.  There are many.
Highly competent psychiatrists who have dealt with us have found it sometimes impossible 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-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours.  Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.

September 18 – PM           Page 50, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

In our personal stories you will find a wide variation in the way each teller approaches and conceives of the Power which is greater than himself.  Whether we agree with a particular approach or conception seems to make little difference.  Experience has taught us that these are matters about which, for our purpose, we need not be worried.  They are questions for each individual to settle for himself.
On one proposition, however, these men and women are strikingly agreed.  Every one of them has gained access to, and believes in, a Power greater than himself.  This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible.  As a celebrated American statesman put it, “Let’s look at the record.”

September 18 – AM          Page 8, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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 miserable end.  How dark it is before the dawn!  In reality that was the beginning of my last debauch.  I was soon to be catapulted into what I like to call the fourth dimension of existence.  I was to know happiness, peace, and usefulness, in a way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes.

September 19 – PM          Page 78, Into Action, Chapter 6

Most alcoholics owe money.  We do not dodge our creditors.  Telling them what we are trying to do, we make no bones about our drinking; they usually know it anyway, whether we think so or not.  Nor are we afraid of disclosing our alcoholism on the theory it may cause financial harm.  Approached in this way, the most ruthless creditor will sometimes surprise us.  Arranging the best deal we can we let these people know we are sorry.  Our drinking has made us slow to pay.  We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them.

September 19 – AM          Page 128-129, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

When father takes this tack, the family may react unfavorably.  They may be jealous of a God who has stolen dad’s affections.  While grateful that he drinks no more, they may not like the idea that God has accomplished the miracle where they failed.  They often forget father was beyond human aid.  They may not see why their love and devotion did not straighten him out.  Dad is not so spiritual after all, they say.  If he means to right his past wrongs, why all this concern for everyone in the world but his family?  What about his talk that God will take care of them?  They suspect father is a bit balmy!
He is not so unbalanced as they might think.  Many of us have experienced dad’s elation.  We have indulged in spiritual intoxication.  Like a gaunt prospector, belt drawn in over the last ounce of food, our pick struck gold.  Joy at our release from a lifetime of frustration knew no bounds.  Father feels he has struck something better than gold.  For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself.  He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product.

September 20 – PM          Page 63-64, How It Works, Chapter 5

Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted.  Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us.  Our liquor was but a symptom.  So we had to get down to causes and conditions.

September 20 – AM          Page 95, Working With Others, Chapter 7

Unless your friend wants to talk further about himself, do not wear out your welcome.  Give him a chance to think it over.  If you do stay, let him steer the conversation in any direction he likes.  Sometimes a new man is anxious to proceed at once, and you may be tempted to let him do so.  This is sometimes a mistake.  If he has trouble later, he is likely to say you rushed him.  You will be most successful with alcoholics if you do not exhibit any passion for crusade or reform.  Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop; simply lay out the kit of spiritual tools for his inspection.  Show him how they worked with you.  Offer him friendship and fellowship.  Tell him that if he wants to get well you will do anything to help.

September 21 – PM          Page xxviii, The Doctor’s Opinion

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.

September 21 – AM          Page 15-16, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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 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 so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek.  At these informal  gatherings one may often see from 50 to 200 persons.  We are growing in numbers and power.*

*In 1996, A.A. is composed of over 95,000 groups.

September 22 – PM          Page 163, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

We know of an A.A. member who was living in a large community.  He had lived there but a few weeks when he found that the place probably contained more alcoholics per square mile than any city in the country.  This was only a few days ago at this writing.  (1939) The authorities were much concerned.  He got in touch with a prominent psychiatrist who had undertaken certain responsibilities for the mental health of the community.  The doctor proved to be able and exceedingly anxious to adopt any workable method of handling the situation.  So he inquired, what did our friend have on the ball?
Our friend proceeded to tell him.  And with such good effect that the doctor agreed to a test among his patients and certain other alcoholics from a clinic which he attends.  Arrangements were also made with the chief psychiatrist of a large public hospital to select still others from the stream of misery which flows through that institution.

September 22 – AM          Page 50-51, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

Here are thousands of men and women, worldly indeed.  They flatly declare that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward that Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking.  In the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them.  This happened soon after they wholeheartedly met a few simple requirements.  Once confused and baffled by the seeming futility of existence, they show the underlying reasons why they were making heavy going of life.  Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory.  They show how the change came over them.  When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.

September 23 – PM          Page 22-23, There Is A Solution, Chapter 2

Why does he behave like this?  If hundreds of experiences 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 questions.  Opinions vary considerably as to why the alcoholic reacts differently 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.

September 23 – AM          Page 78-79, Into Action, Chapter 6

Perhaps we have committed a criminal offense which might land us in jail if it were known to the authorities.  We may be short in our accounts and unable to make good.  We have already admitted this in confidence to another person, but we are sure we would be imprisoned or lose our job if it were known.  Maybe it’s only a petty offense such as padding the expense account.  Most of us have done that sort of thing.  Maybe we are divorced, and have remarried but haven’t kept up the alimony to number one.  She is indignant about it, and has a warrant out for our arrest.  That’s a common form of trouble too.

September 24 – PM          Page 34, More About Alcoholism, Chapter 3

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 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 alcoholism as we know it—this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish.

September 24 – AM          Page 110, To Wives, Chapter 8

Four:  You may have a husband of whom you completely despair.  He has been placed in one institution after another.  He is violent, or appears definitely insane when drunk.  Sometimes he drinks on the way home from the hospital.  Perhaps he has had delirium tremens.  Doctors may shake their heads and advise you to have him committed.  Maybe you have already been obliged to put him away.  This picture may not be as dark as it looks.  Many of our husbands were just as far gone.  Yet they got well.

September 25 – PM          Page 8-9, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

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 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.

September 25 – AM          Page 129, The Family Afterward, Chapter 9

If the family cooperates, dad will soon see that he is suffering from a distortion of values.  He will perceive that his spiritual growth is lopsided, that for an average man like himself, a spiritual life which does not include his family obligations may not be so perfect after all.  If the family will appreciate that dad’s current behavior is but a phase of his development, all will be well.  In the midst of an understanding and sympathetic family, these vagaries of dad’s spiritual infancy will quickly disappear.
The opposite may happen should the family condemn and criticize.  Dad may feel that for years his drinking has placed him on the wrong side of every argument, but that now he has become a superior person with God on his side.  If the family persists in criticism, this fallacy may take a still greater hold on father.  Instead of treating the family as he should, he may retreat further into himself and feel he has spiritual justification for so doing.

September 26 – PM          Page 156-157, A Vision For You, Chapter 11

But life was not easy for the two friends.  Plenty of difficulties presented themselves. Both saw that they must keep spiritually active.  One day they called up the head nurse of a local hospital.  They explained their need and inquired if she had a first class alcoholic prospect.
She replied, “Yes, we’ve got a corker.  He’s just beaten up a couple of nurses.  Goes off his head completely when he’s drinking.  But he’s a grand chap when he’s sober, though he’s been in here eight times in the last six months.  Understand he was once a well-known lawyer in town, but just now we’ve got him strapped down tight.”*
Here was a prospect all right but, by the description, none too promising.  The use of spiritual principles in such cases was not so well understood as it is now.  But one of the friends said, “Put him in a private room.  We’ll be down.”
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?  I was always in a ward before.”
Said one of the visitors, “We’re giving you a treatment for alcoholism.”

* This refers to Bill’s and Dr. Bob’s first visit to A.A. Number Three.  See the Pioneer Section.  This resulted in A.A.’s first group, at Akron, Ohio, in 1935.

September 26 – AM          Page 174-175, Doctor Bob’s Nightmare, Part I

When those two years were up, I opened an office downtown.  I had some money, all the time in the world, and considerable stomach trouble.  I soon discovered that a couple of drinks would alleviate my gastric distress, at least for a few hours at a time, so it was not at all difficult for me to return to my former excessive indulgence.
By this time I was beginning to pay very dearly physically and, in hope of relief, voluntarily incarcerated myself at least a dozen times in one of the local sanitariums.  I was between Scylla and Charybdis now, because if I did not drink my stomach tortured me, and if I did, my nerves did the same thing.  After three years of this, I wound up in the local hospital where they attempted to help me, but I would get my friends to smuggle me a quart, or I would steal the alcohol about the building, so that I got rapidly worse.

September 27 – PM          Page 91, Working With Others, Chapter 7

When your man is better, the doctor might suggest a visit from you.  Though you have talked with the family, leave them out of the first discussion.  Under these conditions your prospect will see he is under no pressure.  He will feel he can deal with you without being nagged by his family.  Call on him while he is still jittery.  He may be more receptive when depressed.

September 27 – AM          Page 79, Into Action, Chapter 6

Although these reparations take innumerable forms, there are some general principles which we find guiding.  Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be.  We may lose our position or reputation or face jail, but we are willing.  We have to be.  We must not shrink at anything.
Usually, however, other people are involved.  Therefore, we are not to be the hasty and foolish martyr who would needlessly sacrifice others to save himself from the alcoholic pit.  A man we know had remarried.  Because of resentment and drinking, he had not paid alimony to his first wife.  She was furious.  She went to court and got an order for his arrest.  He had commenced our way of life, had secured a position, and was getting his head above water.  It would have been impressive heroics if he had walked up to the Judge and said, “Here I am.”
We thought he ought to be willing to do that if necessary, but if he were in jail he could provide nothing for either family.  We suggested he write his first wife admitting his faults and asking forgiveness.  He did, and also sent a small amount of money.  He told her what he would try to do in the future.  He said he was perfectly willing to go to jail if she insisted.  Of course she did not, and the whole situation has long since been adjusted.

September 28 – PM          Page 64, How It Works, Chapter 5

Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory.  This was Step Four.  A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke.  Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-finding and a fact-facing process.  It is an effort to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade.  One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret.  If the owner of the business is to be successful, he cannot fool himself about values.
We did exactly the same thing with our lives.  We took stock honestly.  First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure.  Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations.

September 28 – AM          Page 23, There is a Solution, Chapter 2

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 alcoholic’s drinking bout creates.  They sound like the philosophy of the man who, having a headache, beats himself 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.

September 29 – PM          Page 44-45, We Agnostics, Chapter 4

If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago.  But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried.  We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn’t there.  Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly.

September 29 – AM          Page 9, Bill’s Story, Chapter 1

The door opened and he stood there, fresh-skinned and glowing.  There was something about his eyes.  He was inexplicably 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.

September 30 – PM          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.

September 30 – AM           Page 80, Into Action, Chapter 6

Before taking drastic action which might implicate other people we secure their consent.  If we have obtained permission, have consulted with others, asked God to help and the drastic step is indicated we must not shrink.
This brings to mind a story about one of our friends.  While drinking, he accepted a sum of money from a bitterly-hated business rival, giving him no receipt for it.  He subsequently denied having received the money and used the incident as a basis for discrediting the man.  He thus used his own wrong-doing as a means of destroying the reputation of another.  In fact, his rival was ruined.
He felt that he had done a wrong he could not possibly make right.  If he opened that old affair, he was afraid it would destroy the reputation of his partner, disgrace his family and take away his means of livelihood.  What right had he to involve those dependent upon him?  How could he possibly make a public statement exonerating his rival?
After consulting with his wife and partner he came to the conclusion that it was better to take those risks than to stand before his Creator guilty of such ruinous slander.  He saw that he had to place the outcome in God’s hands or he would soon start drinking again, and all would be lost anyhow.  He attended church for the first time in many years.  After the sermon, he quietly got up and made an explanation.  His action met widespread approval, and today he is one of the most trusted citizens of his town.  This all happened years ago.

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