How it Works from the “Big Book”  of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

How it Works

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.
Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely
give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are
constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are
such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born
that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a
manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less
than average.

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental
disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what
happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we
have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready
to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way.
But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you
to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried
to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go

Remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful! Without
help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power that One
is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we
asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of


  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become


  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us
    to sanity.


  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God
    as we understood Him.


  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact
    nature of our wrongs.


  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.


  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make
    amends to them all.


  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
    so would injure them or others.


  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly
    admitted it.


  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact
    with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of
    His will for us and the power to carry that out.


  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we
    tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these
    principles in all our affairs.

Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with
it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to
maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not
saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.
The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim
spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our
personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

  1. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

  2. That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
  3. That God could and would if He were sought.