If you go to enough meetings, you’ll hear it said that in AA, “there are no MUSTs in the program, only suggestions”. Well, like most half-truths in A.A., if you hear them long enough you begin to believe them.
But what does the Program have to say about this? It says in the Big Book on page 19, “We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to task our combined experience and knowledge. This should suggest a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.” Then, in “How It Works” it says, “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a Program of Recovery.”
So, it’s the WHOLE Program that is suggested. In other words, this is a suggested program, not a program of suggestions. Therefore, if we want to work the suggested program, then there are some things that we must do. The Big Book says so.
There may be another method you might use that you think brings about recovery from alcoholism, and if you so choose, have at it. The program in the book is not the only way.
You don’t have to take the A.A. Program,
But “if you want what we have AND are willing to go to any length to get it.” And if you DO want what we have, the Big Book is very clear that the Program has some very definite requirements. It says, “To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW WE HAVE RECOVERED is the main purpose of this book” (page xiii),
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What are your initial thoughts?
What must you do to stay sober?
Let’s talk about some of the MUSTs of the program outlined in the book:
Do we have to believe in the disease concept? What about surrender/acceptance?
6. …we who have suffered alcoholic torture MUST believe that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. (xxiv)
17. We learned that we had to FULLY CONCEDE to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, HAS TO BE smashed. (30)
18. 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. (33)
The book is emphatic that higher power is required, what about it?
8. 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. (xxvi)
9. I SIMPLY HAD TO believe in a Spirit of the Universe, who knew neither time nor limitation (10)
10. I MUST turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all.(14)
The book requires service work, what is your experience?
11. Particularly was it IMPERATIVE to work with others.(14)
13. Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, DEPEND upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs. (19)
14. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process REQUIRES for its successful consummation.(25)
37. The rule is we MUST be hard on ourself, but always considerate of others. (74)
The book talk alot about facing our character defects.
27. The first requirement is that we BE CONVINCED that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. (60)
28. Above everything, we alcoholics MUST be rid of this selfishness. We MUST, or it kills us! (62)
32. If we were to live, we HAD TO be free of anger. (66)
33. We saw that these resentments MUST be mastered. (66)
34. Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we MUST be willing to grow toward it. 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. (69)
35. We MUST be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world. (73)
We Have Calls
What would you say to the new guy?