Much is said in AA meetings that cannot be reconciled with the program as outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Some are outright myths, some are misinterpretations of what is in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The following is a list of such catch-phrases, quips, opinions and “catchy” slogans often heard in AA meetings.
Each is challenged or clarified by direct quotes from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous basic text (4th Edition).

 

Misinterpreted: “Just don’t drink and go to meetings.” (as a suggested solution/treatment)
  • Page 15, paragraph 3: “We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek.”
  • Page 17, paragraph 2: “Unlike the feelings of the ship’s passengers, however, our joy in escape from disaster does not subside as we go our individual ways. The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined.”
  • Page 34, paragraph 2: “Many of us felt 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.”
  • Page 34, paragraph 3: “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.”
  • Page 59, paragraph 3: “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery: …”
Misinterpreted: “Meeting makers make it” (as a suggested solution/treatment)
  • Page xvi, paragraph 2: “Though he could not accept all the tenets of the Oxford Groups, he was convinced of the need for moral inventory, confession of personality defects, restitution to those harmed, helpfulness to others, and the necessity of belief in and dependence upon God.”
  • Page xxi, paragraph 1:”Yet it is our great hope that all those who have as yet found no answer may begin to find one in the pages of this book and will presently join us on the high road to a new freedom.”
  • Page 58 Paragraph 2: “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it–then you are ready to take certain steps.”
  • Page 58 Paragraph 3: “We 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.”
  • Page 59, paragraph 3: “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery”
Misinterpreted: “We just learn to live life on life’s terms.”
  • Page xiii, paragraph 1: “And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all.”
  • Page 62, paragraph 3: “Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.”
  • Page 63:”We had a new Employer, Being all powerful. He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well.
  • Page 77, paragraph 1: “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.”
  • Page 84, paragraph 3:”We vigorously commenced this way of living, as we cleaned up the past”
  • Page 133, paragraph 2: “We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is most powerful health restorative.”
  • Page 164, paragraph 1: “God will determine that, so you must remember your real reliance is always upon Him.”
Misinterpreted: “Just do the next right thing.”
  • Page 86, paragraph 4: “We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision.”
  • Page 87, paragraph 1: “Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas.”
Myth: “Remember when” or “Remember your last drunk”
  • Page 24, Paragraph 2: “We are unable, at 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.”
  • Page 42, paragraph 1: “I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots.”
  • Page 43, paragraph 4: “Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.”
Myth: “I haven’t had a drink today, so I’m a complete success today.” or “If all I do is stay sober today, then it’s been a good day.”
  • Page 19, paragraph 1: “The elimination of drinking is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs.”
  • Page 51, paragraph top: “Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory. They show how the change came over them.”
  • Page 82, paragraph 3: “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.”
  • Page 82, paragraph 4: “We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough.”
  • Page 122, paragraph 3: “Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from a highly strained abnormal condition.”
Myth: “This is a selfish program.”
  • Page xxv, Doctor’s Opinion: “The unselfishness of these men as we have com e to know them, the absence of profit motive, the community spirit, is indeed inspiring to one “who has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field.”
  • Page 14-15: “For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.”
  • Page 20, paragraph 1: “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”
  • Page 62, paragraph 2: “Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.”
  • Page 62, paragraph 3:”So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of us, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!”
  • Page 97, paragraph 2:”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. “
  • Page 98, paragraph 1: “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.”
  • Page 128, paragraph top: “Giving rather than getting, will become the guiding principle.”
  • Page 159, paragraph 2: “It was transcended by the happiness they found in giving themselves for others.”
Myth: “Don’t drink, even if your ass falls off.”
  • Page xxvii, last paragraph: When sober and untreated… “They (alcoholics) 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…”
  • Page 24, paragraph 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.”
  • Page 34, paragraph 2: “Many of us felt 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.”
Misinterpreted: “We are all just an arms length away from a drink.”
  • Page 84, paragraph 4: “And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected.”
  • Page 85, paragraph 1: “We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.”
  • Page 85, paragraph 2: “We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.”
Myth: “I choose not to drink today” or “I have a choice to not drink today.”
  • Page xxvii, last paragraph: When sober and untreated… “They (alcoholics) 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.”
  • Page 24 Paragraph 2: “The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.”
  • Page 30, paragraph 3: “We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals – usually brief – were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.”
  • Page 34, paragraph 2: “Many of us felt 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.”
  • Page 85, Paragraph 1: “We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.”
Myth “Play the tape all the way through” or “Think through the drink.”
  • Page 24, Paragraph 2: “We are unable, at 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.”
  • Page 24, paragraph 3: “The almost certain consequences that follow taking even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to deter us. If these thoughts do 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.”
  • Page 39, paragraph 1: “But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop on the basis of self-knowledge.”
  • Page 42, paragraph 1: “…will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots.”
Misinterpreted: “The gift of sobriety.”
  • Page 14, Paragraph 2: “Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant the destruction of self-centeredness.”
  • Page 88, paragraph 3: “There is action and more action. ‘Faith without works is dead.’”
  • Page 102, paragraph 3: “Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should never hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed.”
Myth: “I will always be recovering, never recovered.”
  • Title Page: “ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism”
  • Foreword to the First Edition: “We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
  • Foreword to the First Edition: “To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.”
  • Page xxv, paragraph 4: “This man and over one hundred appear to have recovered.”
  • Page 20, paragraph 2: “Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body.”
  • Page 29, paragraph 2: “Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.”
  • Page 132, paragraph 3: “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
  • Page 133, paragraph 2: “We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health.”
  • Page 146, paragraph 2: “An alcoholic who has recovered, but holds a relatively unimportant job, can talk to a man with a better position.”
Misinterpreted: “I don’t have an alcohol problem, I have a living problem” or “Hi, my name is ‘Bill’ and my problem is ‘Bill’.”
  • page xxvi, paragraph 2: “…we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”
  • Page xxvi, paragraph 3: “The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us. …It explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account.”
  • Page xxvii, paragraph 8: “Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor… before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit.”
  • Page xxviii, paragraph 2: “…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.”
  • Page xxix, paragraph 1: “After they (alcoholics) have succumbed to the desire (to drink) again… the phenomenon of craving develops, (and) they pass through the well-known stages of a spree…”.”
  • Page xxix, paragraph 5: “They (alcoholics) took a drink… and then the phenomenon of craving at once became paramount to all other interests. These men were not drinking to escape; they were drinking to overcome a craving beyond their mental control.”
  • Page xxx, paragraph 6: “All these (men), and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon… may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity.” (i.e. alcoholics)
Myth: “I’m powerless over people, places and things.”
  • Page 50, paragraph 4: “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.”
  • Page 55, paragraph 3: “For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself.”
  • Page 59, Step 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.”
  • Page 63, paragraph 1: “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.”
  • Page 82, paragraph 4: “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.”
  • Page 85, paragraph 2: “How can I best serve Thee – Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will.”
  • Page 89, paragraph 2: “You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail.”
  • Page 104, paragraph 5: from To Wives (spouses/parents) of alcoholics… “have had long rendezvous with hurt pride, frustration, self-pity, misunderstanding and fear. These are not pleasant companions. We have been driven to maudlin sympathy, to bitter resentment. Some of us veered from extreme to extreme, ever hoping that one day our loved ones would be themselves once more.
  • Page 105, paragraph 5: from To Wives (spouses/parents) of alcoholics… “There was never financial security. Positions were always in jeopardy or gone. An armored car could not have brought the pay envelopes home. The checking account melted like snow in June.”
  • Page 106, paragraph 4: from To Wives (spouses/parents) of alcoholics… “They (alcoholics) struck the children, kicked out door panels, smashed treasured crockery, and ripped the keys out of pianos.”
  • Page 106, paragraph 6: from To Wives (spouses/parents) of alcoholics… “The alarming physical and mental symptoms, the deepening pall of remorse, depression and inferiority that settled down on our loved ones– these things terrified and distracted us. As animals on a treadmill, we have patiently and wearily climbed, falling back in exhaustion after each futile effort to reach solid ground.”
  • Page 107, paragraph 3: from To Wives (spouses/parents) of alcoholics… “How could men who loved their wives and children be so unthinking, so callous, so cruel? …It was so baffling, so heartbreaking.”
  • Page 108, paragraph 4: from To Wives (spouses/parents) of alcoholics… “Is it right to let him ruin your life and the lives of your children? Especially when he has before him a way to stop his drinking and abuse if he really wants to pay the price.”
  • Page 118, paragraph 1: “If your husband is trying to live on a spiritual basis, he will also be doing everything in his power to avoid disagreement or contention.”
  • Page 122, paragraph 3: “Years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make any wife or child neurotic.”
  • Page 127, paragraph 3: “Since the home has suffered more than anything else, it is well that a man exert himself there.”
  • Page 130, paragraph 2: “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.”
  • Page 132, paragraph 3: “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
  • Page 158, paragraph 5: “He has helped other men recover, and is a power in the church from which he was long absent.”
  • Page 163, paragraph 2: “You forget that you have just now tapped a source of power much greater than yourself.”
  • Page 567, bottom paragraph: “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.”
Misinterpreted: “You’re in the right place.” (We cannot diagnose alcoholism. The Big Book differentiates between the social drinker, problem drinker, heavy drinker, and a real alcoholic)
  • Page 20-21: “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.”
  • Page 31, paragraph 2: “If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him.”
  • Page 31-32: “We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.”
  • Page 92, paragraph 2: “If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, …”
  • Page 95, paragraph 4: “If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience.”
  • Page 108, last paragraph : “One: Your husband may be only a heavy drinker.”

Types of non-alcoholic drinkers defined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

  1. Social drinker — Page xxvii, paragraph 2: “…the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker.”
  2. Hard drinker — Page 20, paragraph 7: “Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. …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.”
  3. ‘Problem’ drinker — Page 109, paragraph 2: “Two: Your husband is showing lack of control. … 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. …We think this person is in danger. These are the earmarks of a real alcoholic.”
Myth: “If an alcoholic wants to get sober, nothing you say can make him drink.”
  • Page 103, paragraph 2: “A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives could have been saved, had it not been for such stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand likes to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it.”
Myth: “We must change playmates, playgrounds, and playthings.”
  • Page 100-101: “Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so. We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything!”
Misinterpreted: “I’m feeling pretty crappy. I need a meeting.”
  • Page 15, paragraph 2: “I was not too well at the time, and was plagued with waves of self-pity and resentment. This sometimes nearly drove me back to drink, but I soon found that when all other measures failed, working with another alcoholic would save the day. Many times I have gone to my old hospital in despair. On talking to a man there, I would be amazingly lifted up and set on my feet. It is a design for living that works in rough going.”
  • Page 15, paragraph 3: “We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek.”
Myth: Myth: “I’m a people-pleaser. I need to learn to take care of myself’,” or “I’m sick, now it’s time for me to focus on me.”
  • Page 14-15: “For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.”
  • Page 20, paragraph 1: “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”
  • Page 61, paragraph 2: “Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind?”
  • Page 62, paragraph 2: “Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.”
  • Page 62, paragraph 3:”So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of us, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!”
  • Page 97, paragraph 2:”Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery.”
Misinterpreted: “Your Higher Power can be whatever you want it to be; a door knob, a Dr. Pepper can, a light bulb… Just about any old thing.”
  • Page 59, Step 2: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” A door knob?
  • Page 45: Paragraph2: “Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a Power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves.” A Dr. Pepper can?
  • Page 25: Paragraph 3: “The great fact is this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences* which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way that is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us that we could never do by ourselves.” A light bulb?
Misinterpreted: “It’s my opinion that…” or “I don’t know anything about the Big Book, but this is the way I do it…”
  • Page 19, paragraph 1: “We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to the task our combined experience and knowledge. This should suggest a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.”
  • Page 20, paragraph 2: “It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done.”
  • Page 162, last paragraph: “Thus we grow. And so can you, though you be but one man with this book in your hand. We believe and hope it contains all you need to begin.
Myth: “Don’t drink, no matter what.”
  • Page xxvii, last paragraph: When sober and untreated… “They (alcoholics) 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.”
  • Page 24, paragraph 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.”
  • Page 34, paragraph 2: “Many of us felt 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.”
  • Page 31, paragraph 4: “We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.”
Myth: “We need to give up planning, it doesn’t work.”
  • Page 86, paragraphs 3-4: “On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives. In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.”
Myth: “You don’t need a shrink. You have an alcoholic personality. All you will ever need is in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.”
  • Page 133, 2nd paragraph: “But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward.”
Myth: “AA is the only way to stay sober.”
  • Page 31, paragraph 2: “If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him.”
  • Page 95, paragraph 4: “If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us.”
  • Page 164, paragraph 3: “Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little.”
Myth: “My sponsor told me that, if in making an amends I would be harmed, I could consider myself as one of the ‘others’ in Step Nine.”
  • Page 79, paragraph 2 “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 might be.”
  • Page 103, paragraph 3: “After all, our problems were of our own making.”
  • Page 123, paragraph 1:” We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets.”
  • oth·er /ˈəT͟Hər/ adjective & pronoun, others, pronoun
    1. used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about.
    2. further; additional.
Misinterpreted: “I need to forgive myself first” or “You need to be good to yourself” or “I need to be good to myself right now.”
  • Page 14-15: “For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.”
  • Page 20, paragraph 1: “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”
  • Page 61, paragraph 2: “Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind?”
  • Page 74, paragraph 2 “The rule is we must be hard on ourself, but always considerate of others.”
Misinterpreted: “Take what you want and leave the rest.”
  • Page 17, paragraph 3: “The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. 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 this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.”
  • See also below: scroll down for “There are no ‘musts’ in this program.”
Myth: “Don’t make any major decisions for the first year.”
  • Page 59, paragraph 4, Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
  • Page 60, paragraph 4: ”(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. Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him.”
  • Page 76, paragraph 2: “When ready, we say something like this: My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen. We have then completed Step Seven.”
Misinterpreted: “Stay out of relationships for the first year.”
  • Page 69, paragraph 1: “We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone’s sex conduct.”
  • Page 69, paragraph 3: “In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come if we want it.”
  • Page 69, paragraph 4: “God alone can judge our sex situation.”
  • Page 69-70: “Counsel with other persons is often desirable, but we let God be the final judge.”
  • Page 70, Paragraph 2: “We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing.”
Myth: “Alcohol was my drug of choice.”
  • Page 24, paragraph 2: “The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.”
Myth: “This program is caught, not taught” or “Keep coming back, eventually it will rub off on you”
  • Page xiii Paragraph 1:”To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.”
  • Page 18, paragraph 4: “But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with the 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.”
  • Page 64, Paragraph 1: “Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by rigorous action.
  • Page 70, paragraph 1: “Having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
  • Page 94, paragraph 1: “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 of your own recovery.”
  • Page 100, paragraph 1: “Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen.”
Misinterpreted: “Ninety Meetings in Ninety Days.”
  • Page 15, paragraph 2: “We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek.”
  • Page 19, paragraph 2: “None of us makes a sole vocation of this work, nor do we think its effectiveness would be increased if we did.”
  • Page 59, paragraph 3: “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:… “
  • Page 99, last paragraph: “Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God.”
Myth: “Take your time to work the steps” or “You only need to work one step a year.”
  • Page 13, paragraph 5: “My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems.”
  • Page 63, paragraph3: “Next we launched on a course of vigorous action.”
  • Page 74, paragraph 3: “If that is so, this step may be postponed, only, however, if we hold ourselves in complete readiness to go through with it at the first opportunity.”
  • Page 75, paragraph 3: “Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for AN HOUR, carefully reviewing what we have done.”
  • Page 96, paragraph 2:”Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says her is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps of the program of recovery.”
  • Page 569, paragraph 3: “What often takes place in a few months can hardly be brought about by himself alone.”
Myth: “Make sure to put something good about yourself in your 4th Step inventory.”
  • Page 64, paragraph 3: “First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure.”
  • Page 67, paragraph 3: “The inventory was ours, not the other man’s. When we saw our faults we listed them.”
  • Page 71, paragraph 1: “If you have already made a decision, and an inventory of your grosser handicaps, you have made a good beginning.”
Myth: “You need to stay in those feelings and really feel them.”
  • Page 27, paragraph 4: “Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.”
  • Page 48, paragraph 1: “Though some of us resisted, we found no great difficulty in casting aside such feelings.”
  • Page 52, paragraph 3: “We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression…”
  • Page 68, paragraph 2: “For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit.”
  • Page 84, paragraph 2: “When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.”
  • Page 125, paragraph 1: “So we think that unless some good and useful purpose is to be served, past occurrences should not be discussed.”
  • 12 & 12, Step 12, page 123: “These distinguished men had the nerve to say that most of the alcoholics under investigation were still childish, emotionally sensitive, and grandiose.”
Myth: “There are no ‘musts’ in this program.”
  • Page xvi, paragraph 2: “He suddenly realized that in order to save himself he must carry his message to another alcoholic.”
  • Page xxv, paragraph 4: “As part of his rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others.”
  • Page xxviii, paragraph 3: “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.
  • Page 14, paragraph 2: “I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all.”
  • Page 29, paragraph 3: “Yes, I am one of them too; I must have this thing.”
  • Page 33, paragraph 2: “If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.”
  • Page 43, paragraph 4: “His defense must come from a Higher Power.”
  • Page 44, paragraph 3: “…we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life – or else.”
  • Page 62, paragraph 3: “Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!”
  • Page 66, paragraph 4: “We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how?”
  • Page 69, paragraph 4: “Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we must be willing to grow toward it.”
  • Page 69, paragraph 4: “We must be willing to make amends where we have done harm…”
  • Page 73, paragraph 5: “We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world.”
  • Page 74, paragraph 1: “Those of us belonging to a religious denomination which requires confession must, and of course, will want to go to the properly appointed authority whose duty it is to receive it.”
  • Page 74, paragraph 2: “The rule is we must be hard on ourself, but always considerate of others.”
  • Page 75, paragraph 1: “But we must not use this as a mere excuse to postpone.”
  • Page 78, paragraph 3: “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.”
  • Page 79, paragraph 2: “We must not shrink at anything.”
  • Page 80, paragraph 1: “If we have obtained permission, have consulted with others, asked God to help and the drastic step is indicated we must not shrink.”
  • Page 82, paragraph 3: “Certainly he must keep sober, for there will be no home if he doesn’t.”
  • Page 83, paragraph 1: “Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead. We must take the lead.”
  • Page 83, paragraph 2: “We must remember that ten or twenty years of drunkenness would make a skeptic out of anyone.”
  • Page 85, paragraph 3: “But we must go further and that means more action.”
  • Page 85, paragraph 2: “Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.”
  • Page 85, paragraph 2: “These are thoughts which must go with us constantly.”
  • Page 86, paragraph 2: “But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others.”
  • Page 89, paragraph 2: “To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss.”
  • Page 93, paragraph 3: “To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action.”
  • Page 95, paragraph 3: “…he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on.”
  • Page 95, paragraph 3: “If he is to find God, the desire must come from within.”
  • Page 99, paragraph 1: “…it must be done if any results are to be expected.”
  • Page 99, paragraph 2: “But we must try to repair the damage immediately lest we pay the penalty by a spree.”
  • Page 99, paragraph 3: “…it must be on a better basis, since the former did not work.”
  • Page 100, paragraph 1: “Both you and the new man must both walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress.
  • Page 120, paragraph 2: “…he must redouble his spiritual activities if he expects to survive.”
  • Page 130, paragraph 2: “…that is where our work must be done.”
  • Page 143, paragraph 2: “…he should understand that he must undergo a change of heart”
  • Page 144, paragraph 3: “The man must decide for himself.”
  • Page 144, paragraph 3: “But Remember… “When the man is presented with this volume it is best that no one tell him he must abide by its suggestions.”
  • Page 146, paragraph 4: “For he knows he must be honest if he would live at all.”
  • Page 152, paragraph 2: “I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I?”
  • Page 156, paragraph 3: “Both saw that they must keep spiritually active.”
  • Page 159, paragraph 3: “Though they knew they must help other alcoholics if they would remain sober, that motive became secondary.”
  • Page 164, paragraph 1: ““God will determine that, so you must remember your real reliance is always upon Him.”