Step 3 Part 2: ABCs of AA

What Bill Wilson originally penned and what ended up coming off the presses as the textbook for AA does differ, slightly. Sometimes editing changes are insignificant; sometimes they change the tone and blur the passion, if not the intent, of the author.

You may have read the following sentence before if you’ve studied the history of the Big Book, but it’s no longer in the pages of our text. It not only gives us a clue to Bill’s forceful personality but also sums up his convictions concerning the principles of AA. I laughed out loud when I heard it.

If you aren’t convinced of these vital issues, you ought to reread the book to this point or else throw it away!

Amen! I would have loved to have met the guy.

What he meant by vital issues is on page 60 following the 12 Steps:

  • a. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives
  • b. That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism
  • c. That God could and would if He were sought

Bill’s suggestion of re-reading the book up to this point for those who are not convinced of the ABCs, is not a blustery attempt at humor. The statistics of alcoholism are on the rise and the demographics have broadened dramatically since the first publication of the text in 1939.

We alcoholics are fighting for our lives, or else in a gesture of defeat, we’re drinking ourselves into an early grave. There’s no riding the fence for an alcoholic. To drink is to give up; to drink is to die or slowly become brain-damaged and disabled first, and then die a tragic alcoholic death. I’ve met a lot of sober alcoholics that quit drinking for the sole reason that they didn’t want to die like that.*

Of course, there’s another option. We can just put the cork in the jug and live an emotionally crippled life without the numbing effects of alcohol but with the craziness of alcoholic thinking. We can choose to be a dry drunk, going on emotional binges and isolating ourselves while we nurse our grudges and focus on maintaining our pride, refusing to change. This is not recovery.

On the other hand, to believe that the ABCs are true means that we can look forward to learning new ways-changing our lives, walking forward with hope and help, and into new solutions for living.

It’s a choice. We can choose to remain victims of alcohol by volunteering for the role of victim and continuing to drink, or we can discover a better way of living by assessing the reality of our situation and taking the 12 Steps to recover.

It’s not quite as easy as my quick summary sounds, but it’s not real complicated, either. It’s simple…very simple. It’s not easy.

It all starts with the ABCs. Elementary. It’s so foundational that a recovery without using the ABCs is not the recovery Bill had in mind. I don’t know about you but my definition of recovery is his. I couldn’t have my recovery without these. It would be like writing a post without being able to use the letters A or B or C. For me, it wouldn’t work. Without them, I would have given up. Many do.

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Alcoholics Anonymous, p 60