by Clarence S., January 1972
Started 1st group in Cleveland, OH, May 18, 1939

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a “booze cure” or a psychological means of controlling one’s excessive or obsessive drinking. A.A. is a program, a life-changing program, and, in a great part, we owe our inception as a fellowship to our origin in the Oxford Group movement during the mid 1930’s.

The Oxford Group was designed as a Life Changing program – and we in A.A. have for our own uses and affiliation, modified their program, chiefly by designing our twelve step program in a manner that the alcoholic who feels he needs and wants a change from what they are experiencing, can comfortably accept and apply the program and thereby change their life.

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To do so, requires certain attitudes, willingness, and acts on our parts.

We have simplified the program, in the feeling that any alcoholic with an alcohol problem can live a life free of the obsession to drink.

Our program of the twelve steps is really accepted in four distinct phases, as follows:

1) Need (admission)

2) Surrender (submission)

3) Restitution

4) Construction and Maintenance

Phase #1 – Is covered in Step 1 – “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable” – this step points out phase 1 – or our own need – there is a need for a change!

Phase #2 – Includes the 2nd through the 7th steps which constitutes the phase of submission.

Step#2 – “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Since we could not manage our own lives, of ourselves, we found ourselves to be powerless over alcohol; we were encouraged by the power of example of someone or some others to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. In this step, we have the “proof of the pudding” before we are asked to eat it!! Others tell us of their experiences and share their deepest feelings with us and those members are alcoholics such as we are, and there they stand, sober, clean-eyed, useful, confident and with a certain radiance we envy and really want for ourselves. So, we WANT to believe it!

Of course, some persons could conceivably be a bit more startled at first by the reference to “being restored to sanity,” but most of us finally conclude that in hearing of some of the experiences our new friends had during their drinking careers were anything but the actions of a rational person, and when we reflect upon our own actions and deeds prior to our own introduction to A.A., it is not difficult to recognize that we too, were pretty well out in left field also! In fact, most of us are happy in the feeling that we were not really responsible for many of our past unpleasant and embarrassing situations and frankly, this step does much to relieve our feelings of guilt and self-condemnation.

Step #3 – “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God…”
Now here is the step which separates the men from the boys (or the women from the girls) – this is the step which tells the story as to whether we are going to be in A.A., or around A.A. Yes, we can attend meetings, visit the clubs, attend the social functions, but, unless we really take step #3, we are continuing to make up our own program. Since our entire program is based upon dependence upon God and our lives are to be directed by Him!

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