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The 12 Steps Serenity Prayer Responsibility Pledge
The 12 Traditions 3rd Step Prayer  Singleness Of Purpose
The 12 Concepts 7th Step Prayer Open/Closed Meetings

xFor Anyone New Coming to A.A.
For Anyone Referring People to A.A.

This information is both for people who may have a drinking problem and for those in contact with people who have, or are suspected of having, a problem. Most of the information is available in more detail in literature published by A.A. World Services, Inc. A list of recommended pamphlets and Guidelines is given on the other side of this sheet. This tells what to expect from Alcoholics Anonymous. It describes what A.A. is, what A.A. does, and what A.A. does not do.

WHAT IS A.A.?

Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, nondenominational, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.

WHAT DOES A.A. DO?

1. A.A. members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem; they give person-to-person service or “sponsorship” to the alcoholic coming to A.A. from any source.

2. The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol.

3. This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings. 

a. Open speaker meetings—open to alcoholics and nonalcoholics. (Attendance at an open A.A. meeting is the best way to learn what A.A. is, what it does, and what it does not do.) At speaker meetings, A.A. members “tell their stories.” They describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to A.A., and how their lives have changed as a result of A.A.

b. Open discussion meetings—one member speaks briefly about his or her drinking experience, and then leads a discussion on A.A. recovery or any drinking-related problem anyone brings up. Closed meetings are for A.A.s or anyone who may have a drinking problem.)

c. Closed discussion meetings—conducted just as open discussions are, but for alcoholics or prospective A.A.s only.

d. Step meetings (usually closed)—discussion of one of the Twelve Steps.

e. A.A. members also take meetings into correctional and treatment facilities.

f. A.A. members may be asked to conduct the informational meetings about A.A. as a part of A.S.A.P. (Alcohol Safety Action Project) and D.W.I. (Driving While Intoxicated) programs. These meetings about A.A. are not regular A.A. group meetings.

MEMBERS FROM COURT PROGRAMS AND TREATMENT FACILITIES

In the last years, A.A. groups have welcomed many new members from court programs and treatment facilities. Some have come to A.A. voluntarily; others, under a degree of pressure. In our pamphlet “How A.A. Members Cooperate,” the following appears:

We cannot discriminate against any prospective A.A. member, even if he or she comes to us under pressure from a court, an employer, or any other agency.

Although the strength of our program lies in the voluntary nature of membership in A.A., many of us first attended meetings because we were forced to, either by someone else or by inner discomfort. But continual exposure to A.A. educated us to the true nature of the illness.... Who made the referral to A.A. is not what A.A. is interested in. It is the problem drinker who is our concern.... We cannot predict who will recover, nor have we the authority to decide how recovery should be sought by any other alcoholic.

PROOF OF ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS

Sometimes, courts ask for proof of attendance at A.A. meetings.

Some groups, with the consent of the prospective member, have the A.A. group secretary sign or initial a slip that has been furnished by the court together with a self-addressed court envelope. The referred person supplies identification and mails the slip back to the court as proof of attendance.

Other groups cooperate in different ways. There is no set procedure. The nature and extent of any group’s involvement in this process is entirely up to the individual group.

This proof of attendance at meetings is not part of A.A.’s procedure. Each group is autonomous and has the right to choose whether or not to sign court slips. In some areas the attendees report on themselves, at the request of the referring agency, and thus alleviate breaking A.A. members’ anonymity.

SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE AND PROBLEMS OTHER THAN ALCOHOL

Alcoholism and drug addiction are often referred to as “substance abuse” or “chemical dependency.” Alcoholics and nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to A.A. and encouraged to attend A.A. meetings. Anyone may attend open A.A. meetings. But only those with a drinking problem may attend closed meetings or become A.A. members. People with problems other than alcoholism are eligible for A.A. membership only if they have a drinking problem.

Dr. Vincent Dole, a pioneer in methadone treatment for heroin addicts and for several years a trustee on the General Service Board of A.A., made the following statement: “The source of strength in A.A. is its single-mindedness. The mission of A.A. is to help alcoholics. A.A. limits what it is demanding of itself and its associates, and its success lies in its limited target. To believe that the process that is successful in one line guarantees success for another would be a very serious mistake.” Consequently, we welcome the opportunity to share A.A. experience with those who would like to develop Twelve Step/Twelve Tradition programs for the nonalcoholic addict by using A.A. methods.

WHAT A.A. DOES NOT DO

A.A. does not:  

1. Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover 

2. Solicit members 

3. Engage in or sponsor research 

4. Keep attendance records or case histories 

5. Join “councils” of social agencies 

6. Follow up or try to control its members 

7. Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses 

8. Provide drying-out or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment 

9. Offer religious services 

10. Engage in education about alcohol 

11. Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or any other welfare or social services 

12. Provide domestic or vocational counseling 

13. Accept any money for its services, or any contributions from non-A.A. sources 

14. Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials, social agencies, employers, etc.

CONCLUSION

The primary purpose of A.A. is to carry our message of recovery to the alcoholic seeking help. Almost every alcoholism treatment tries to help the alcoholic maintain sobriety. Regardless of the road we follow, we all head for the same destination, recovery of the alcoholic person. Together, we can do what none of us could accomplish alone. We can serve as a source of personal experience and be an ongoing support system for recovering alcoholics.

RECOMMENDED MATERIAL AVAILABLE FROM A.A. WORLD SERVICES, INC.

Pamphlets:
”A Member’s-Eye View of Alcoholics Anonymous”
“How A.A. Members Cooperate”
“If You Are a Professional, A.A. Wants to Work With You”
“Problems Other Than Alcohol”
“Understanding Anonymity”
“Let’s Be Friendly With Our Friends”
“Is A.A. For You?”
“A.A. in Treatment Facilities”
“Is There An Alcoholic in the Workplace?”
“A.A. as a Resource for the Health Care Professional”

Guidelines:
For A.A. Members Employed in the Alcoholism Field
Cooperation With the Professional Community
Public Information
Cooperating With Court, A.S.A.P., and Similar Programs

Catalog:
Conference-approved Literature and Other Service Material
A.A. Literature and Audiovisual Material For Special Needs

Videos:
Alcoholics Anonymous—An Inside View
Young People and A.A.
Hope: Alcoholics Anonymous
A.A.—Rap with Us
It Sure Beats Sitting in a Cell
Your A.A. General Service Office, The Grapevine and the General Service Structure
Carrying the Message Behind These Walls
Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous (American Sign Language)
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (American Sign Language)

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The 12 Steps

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
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.
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The 12 Traditions

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
3. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
6. An AA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
9. AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.
11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

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The 12 Concepts

The 12 Concepts for World Service provide the framework within which AA as a world-wide organization functions.  For a detailed explanation on how they operate, obtain a copy of the AA book, The A.A. Service Manual combined with Twelve Concepts for World Service by Bill W., 2000-2001 edition.
1. Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the 
collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.
2. The General Service Conference of A.A. has become, for nearly every practical purpose,  
the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole Society
in its world affairs.
3. To insure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A.--the Conference, 
the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs,
committees, 
and executive-- with a traditional "Right of Decision"
4. At all responsible levels, we ought to maintain a traditional "Right of Participation," allowing 
a voting representation in reasonable proportion to
the responsibility that each must discharge.
5. Throughout our structure, a traditional "Right of Appeal" ought to prevail,  
so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive care
ful consideration.
6. The Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility in 
most world service matters should be exercised by the trustee members of
the Conference 
acting as the General Service Board.
7.  The Charter and Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments,  
empowering the trustees to manage and conduct world service affairs.  The
Conference Charter is 
not a legal document; it relies upon tradition and the
A.A. purse for final effectiveness.
8.  The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and finance. 
They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising 
this through their ability to elect all
the directors of these entities.
9.  Good service leadership at all levels is indispensable for our future functioning and safety. 
Primary world service leadership, once exercised by the
founders, 
must necessarily be assumed by the trustees.
10. Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority,  
with the scope of such authority well defined.
11. The trustees should always have the best possible committees, corporate service directors, executives, 
staffs, and consultants. Composition, qualifications, induction procedures, and rights and duties 
will always be matters of serious concern.
12.  The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, and that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.

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God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change... Courage to change the things I can & Wisdom to know the difference...

A Brief History of the Serenity Prayer

There is no shortage of theories as to who wrote the Serenity Prayer. Records from Alcoholics Anonymous show that Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, of the Union Theological Seminary, NYC, composed it in 1932 as the ending to a longer prayer. In 1934, Dr. Howard Robbins, the doctor’s friend & neighbor, requested permission to use that portion of the longer prayer in a compilation he was building at the time. It was published that year in Dr. Robbins’ book of prayers.

In 1939, it came to the attention of an early A.A. member who liked it so much, he brought it to Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill & the staff read the prayer & felt that it particularly suited the needs of AA. Cards were printed & passed around. Thus the simple little prayer became an integral part of the AA movement.

Another popular theory states that Reinhold Niebuhr actually accredited Friedrich Oetinger, an 18th century theologian, for writing the Serenity Prayer. This theory suggests that in 1947, Niebuhr read the prayer in an obituary notice in the New York Tribune & was so taken by it that he shared it with Bill Wilson.
Page 67 of the out-of-print booklet, "Between Dawn & Dark," by Frederick Ward Kates — published by the Upper Room in 1957 — reads:

Almighty God, our heavenly father, give us serenity to accept what cannot be changed, courage to change what should be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other. Amen        
Fourteenth Century

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The Third Step Prayer

"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!"

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The Seventh Step Prayer
 

"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."

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The Responsibility Pledge

I am responsible..
When anyone, anywhere,
reaches out for help, I want
the hand of A.A. always to be there.
And for that: I am responsible.

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Our Singleness Of Purpose 


Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose- that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
 
Tradition 5, The Twelve Traditions Long Form

 

SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE AND 
PROBLEMS OTHER THAN ALCOHOL

Alcoholism and drug addiction are often referred to as “substance abuse” or “chemical dependency.” Alcoholics and nonalcoholics are, therefore, sometimes introduced to A.A. and encouraged to attend A.A. meetings. Anyone may attend open A.A. meetings. But only those with a drinking problem may attend closed meetings or become A.A. members. People with problems other than alcoholism are eligible for A.A. membership only if they have a drinking problem.

Dr. Vincent Dole, a pioneer in methadone treatment for heroin addicts and for several years a trustee on the General Service Board of A.A., made the following statement: “The source of strength in A.A. is its single-mindedness. The mission of A.A. is to help alcoholics. A.A. limits what it is demanding of itself and its associates, and its success lies in its limited target. To believe that the process that is successful in one line guarantees success for another would be a very serious mistake.” Consequently, we welcome the opportunity to share A.A. experience with those who would like to develop Twelve Step/Twelve Tradition programs for the nonalcoholic addict by using A.A. methods.

Information on Alcoholics Anonymous. AA World Services

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Open & Closed Meeting Definitions

 

The purpose of all AA group meetings, as the Preamble states, is for AA members to "share experience strength and hope with each other that they might solve their common problem and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety." Toward this end, AA groups have both open and closed meetings.

Closed Meetings are for AA members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and "have a desire to stop drinking."

Open Meetings are available to anyone interested in Alcoholics Anonymous' program of recovery from alcoholism. 

At both types of meetings, the AA chairperson may request that participants confine their discussion to matters pertaining to recovery from alcoholism.

Whether open or closed, AA group meetings are conducted by AA members, who determine the format of their meeting.

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