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The 12 Steps Unmasked

There are many people who are told by family and friends that they should seek help for their drinking or drug problem, or their addiction to sex or gambling, who reply that they "have tried everything" and "nothing seems to work."

G.K. Chesterton once said that disbelief in Christianity comes not from the fact that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, but the fact that it has been found difficult and never tried. It may be more likely that the individual who says "A.A.'s 12 Steps didn't help" never really worked through the steps. By turning the 12 Steps into questions, we can see if the person who says they never worked really ever tried them:

1. Did you admit that you are powerless over alcohol [or whatever sin is the issue] -- that your life had become unmanageable?

2. Did you come to believe that a Power greater than yourself could restore you to sanity?

3. Did you make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understood Him?

4. Did you make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself?

5. Did you admit to God, to yourself, and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs?

6. Did you become entirely ready to have God remove all your defects of character?

7. Did you humbly ask Him to remove your shortcomings?

8. Did you make a list of all persons you had harmed, and did you become willing to make amends to them all?

9. Did you in fact make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others?

10. Do you continue to take personal inventory and when you are wrong promptly admit it?

11. Do you seek through prayer and meditation to improve your conscious contact with God as you understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for you and the power to carry that out?

12. Have you had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, and are you trying to carry this message to [others like you], and to practice these principles in all your affairs?

"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." -- The Big Blue Book, p. 58


Links to Steps
| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |



In certain quarters it is not popular to say that you "ought" to do something, or you "should" be a certain way, or you "must" take certain steps in your life.

There are two reasons why you "MUST."

First, your life will never be filled with joy if you don't. Your life will be meaningless and frustrating. For some, you will die before the end of the year if you don't listen to those have gone before you and now say "you must."

Second, and much more important, God says you "must." God is your Creator. He owns you. He has the right to boss you around. You have a duty to obey.

But that brings us back to the first reason. God is a loving God. A sensible parent who tells a child to "stay out of the street!" doesn't do so just to feel powerful. If you don't follow God's "musts" you will be hit by a car. If you continue to be your own god, you will continue to fail in life.

If you cannot accept the loving "musts" that millions have accepted in order to succeed, you will never be able to remain virtuous under tyrannical "musts" -- which is the mark of a truly great man.

The Explicit "Musts" Found In
Alcoholics Anonymous
3rd. Edition

[ PLEASE NOTE: These are intended for further study and should not be
taken out of context; e.g. #45-51,78,79 etc. ]


1)      page xxiii:
As part of his rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing on them that they must do likewise with still others.

4)      page xxvi:
In nearly all cases, their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives.

5)      page xxvii:
I must stop, but I cannot!


9)      page 10:
I could almost hear the sound of the preacher's voice as I sat, on still Sundays, way over there on the hillside; there was that proffered temperance pledge I never signed; my grandfather's good natured contempt of some church folk and their doings; his insistence that the spheres really had their own music; but his denial of the preacher's right to tell him how he must listen; his fearlessness as he spoke of these things just before he died; these recollections welled up from the past.

10)     page 14:
I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all.


13)     page 33:
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.

14)     page 43:
His defense must come from a Higher Power.


15)     page 44:
But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis
of life -- or else.

16)     page 62:
Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness.

17)     page 62:
We must, or it kills us!

18)     page 66:
We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how?

19)     page 69:
Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we must be willing to grow toward it.

20)     page 69:
We must be willing to make amends where we have done harm, provided that we do not bring about still more harm in so doing.


21)     page 73:
We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world.

23)     page 74:
The rule is we must be hard on ourself, but always considerate of others.

24)     page 75:
But we must not use this as a mere excuse to postpone.

25)     page 78:
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.

26)     page 79:
We must not shrink at anything.

27)     page 80:
If we obtained permission, have consulted with others, asked God to help and the drastic step is indicated we must not shrink.

29)     page 82:
Certainly he must keep sober, for there will be no home if he doesn't.

30)     page 83:
We must take the lead.

32)     page 85:
Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities.

33)     page 85:
These are the thoughts which must go with us constantly.

34)     page 85:
But we must go further and that means more action.

35)     page 86:
But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others.


36)     page 89:
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.

37)     page 90:
The family must decide these things.

38)     page 93:
To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action.

39)     page 95:
After doing that, he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on.

40)     page 95:
If he is to find God, the desire must come from within him.

41)     page 99:
In many homes this is a difficult thing to do, but it must be done if any results are to be expected.

42)     page 99:
But we must try to repair the damage immediately lest we pay the penalty by a spree.

43)     page 99:
If their old relationship is to be resumed it must be on a better basis, since the former did not work.

44)     page 100:
Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress.

       Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said
45)     page 100:
we must not go where liquor is served; [continued]
46)     page 101:
we must not have it in our homes; [continued]
47)     page 101:
we must shun our friends who drink; [continued]
48)     page 101:
we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; [continued]
49)     page 101:
we must not go into bars; [continued]
50)     page 101:
our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses;[continued]
51)     page 101:
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.

          page 103:
After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!


53)     page 113:
Wait until repeated stumbling convinces him he must act, for the more you hurry him the longer his recovery will be delayed.

54)     page 114:
But sometimes you must start life anew.

55)     page 115:
But you must be on guard not to embarrass or harm your husband.

56)     page 115:
You will no longer be self-conscious or feel that you must apologize as though your husband were a weak character.

57)     page 117:
Often you must carry the burden of avoiding them or keeping them under control.

58)     page 118:
Yet you must not expect too much.

59)     page 120:
Your husband will see at once that he must redouble his spiritual activities
if he expects to survive.


60)     page 127:
The family must realize that dad, though marvelously improved, is still convalescing.

61)     page 127:
But he must see the danger of over-concentration on financial success.

62)     page 127:
We know there are difficult wives and families, but the man who is getting over alcoholism must remember he did much to make them so.

63)     page 130:
That is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done.

64)     page 135:
The others must be convinced of his new status beyond the shadow of a doubt.


65)     page 141:
State that you know about his drinking, and that it must stop.

66)     page 143:
Though you are providing him with the best possible medical attention, he
should understand that he must undergo a change of heart.

67)     page 144:
When a man is presented with this volume it is best that no one tell him he
must abide by its suggestions.

68)     page 144:
The man must decide for himself.

69)     page 146:
For he knows he must be honest if he would live at all.


70)     page 152:
"...I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I?..."

71)     page 153:
They will approach still other sick ones and fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous may spring up in each city and hamlet, havens for those who must find a way out.

73)     page 156:
Both saw that they must keep spiritually active.

74)     page 159:
Though they knew they must help other alcoholics if they would remain sober, that motive became secondary.

75)     page 164:
God will determine that, so you must remember that your real reliance is always upon Him.


76)     page 563:
We alcoholics see that we must work together and hang together, else most of us will finally die alone.


77)     page 565:
A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die.


79)     page 569:
Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming "God-consciousness" followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook.


80)     page 571:
"...I think our profession must take appreciative cognizance of this great therapeutic weapon.

81)     page 571:
Any therapeutic or philosophic procedure which can prove a recovery rate of 50% to 60% must merit our consideration."

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