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Post Info TOPIC: The Original 1930'S "HOW IT WORKS"

MIP Old Timer

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The Original 1930'S "HOW IT WORKS"


This is the original manuscript of How It Works.

 You'll find some of the wording very interesting. 


Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our directions. 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. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a way of life which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. 

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it -then you are ready to follow directions. 

At some of these you may balk. You may think you can find an easier, softer way. We doubt if you can. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. 

Remember that you are dealing with alcohol - cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for you. But there is One who has all power - That One is God. You must find Him now! 

Half measures will avail you nothing. You stand at the turning point. Throw yourself under His protection and care with complete abandon. 

Now we think you can take it! Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as your Program of Recovery: 

1. 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 and direction 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 willing that God remove all these defects of character. 

7. Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings - holding nothing back. 

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make complete 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 contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and
the power to carry that out. 

12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

You may exclaim, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. 

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after, have been designed to sell you three pertinent ideas: 

(a) That you are alcoholic and cannot manage your own life. 
(b) That probably no human power can relieve your alcoholism. 
(c) That God can and will. 

If you are not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book to this point or else throw it away! 


-- Edited by jonijoni at 11:40, 2008-03-07


~~"It's hard to be hateful when you're grateful."~~

MIP Old Timer

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"Half measures will avail you nothing. You stand at the turning point."

words to live by right there. anything worth doing is worth doing well (or overdoing as some would say). we put a lot of effort into our drinking, and most of us were pretty good at while it lasted. now we just need to put that effort into staying sober and availing ourselves of all that life has to offer.


 Gratitude = Happiness!

MIP Old Timer

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Posts: 1893

If you are not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book to this point or else throw it away!

Does it really say that!!!!!! Boy they werent messing around!! I know a guy who shared with me last night that he did his fourth step in one day! He must not have had much fun in his past!!! lol

Wow! Thanks for sharing!

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. "

MIP Old Timer

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Posts: 2281

I LOVE it! Straight to the point. No Bullshitting! Just like the original pre-amble.....

AA Old Preamble - 1940

We are gathered here because we are faced with the fact
that we are powerless over alcohol and unable to do
anything about it without the help of a Power greater than

We feel that each person's religious views, if any, are his
own affair. The simple purpose of the program of
Alcoholics Anonymous is to show what may be done to
enlist the aid of a Power greater than ourselves regardless
of what our individual conception of that Power may be.

In order to form a habit of depending upon and referring
all we do to that Power, we must at first apply ourselves
with some diligence. By often repeating these acts, they
become habitual and the help rendered becomes natural to

We have all come to know that as alcoholics we are
suffering from a serious illness for which medicine has no

Our condition may be the result of an allergy which makes
us different from other people. It has never been by any
treatment with which we are familiar, permanently cured.
The only relief we have to offer is absolute abstinence, the
second meaning of A.A.

There are no dues or fees. The only requirement for
membership is a desire to stop drinking. Each member
squares his debt by helping others to recover.

An Alcoholics Anonymous is an alcoholic who through
application and adherence to the A.A. program has
forsworn the use of any and all alcoholic beverage in any

The moment he takes so much as one drop of beer, wine,
spirits or any other alcoholic beverage he automatically loses
all status as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

A.A. is not interested in sobering up drunks who are not
sincere in their desire to remain sober for all time. Not
being reformers, we offer our experience only to those who
want it.

We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree and
on which we can join in harmonious action. Rarely have we
seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our
program. Those who do not recover are people who will
not or simply cannot give themselves to this simple
program. Now you may like this program or you may not,
but the fact remains, it works. It is our only chance to

There is a vast amount of fun in the A.A. fellowship. Some
people might be shocked at our seeming worldliness and
levity but just underneath there lies a deadly earnestness
and a full realization that we must put first things first and
with each of us the first thing is our alcoholic problem. To
drink is to die. Faith must work twenty-four hours a day in
and through us or we perish.

In order to set our tone for this meeting I ask that we bow
our heads in a few moments of silent prayer and
meditation. I wish to remind you that whatever is said at
this meeting expresses our own individual opinion as of
today and as of up to this moment.

We do not speak for A.A. as a whole and you are free to
agree or disagree as you see fit, in fact, it is suggested that
you pay no attention to anything which might not be
reconciled with what is in the A.A. Big Book.

If you don't have a Big Book, it's time you bought you one.
Read it, study it, live with it, loan it, scatter it, and then
learn from it what it means to be an A.A.


Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...
  It's about learning to dance in the rain.

MIP Old Timer

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Posts: 540

wow!! Thanks for the preamble, Doll!!! Have never read that one!!! Yup, those old-old timers did not mess around, did they!!!


~~"It's hard to be hateful when you're grateful."~~

Senior Member

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Posts: 211

Yes i like this old stuff. I think I'll start a group with that preamble lol. I don't know about the losing membership when you take a drink.

any thoughts?

On Joni's original. I like the change we made on the third step. I tend to think of it as direction also. We really don't know how to do that so early in the prgtam though. Still, I was always asking how I would know God's will. The essence of my sponsors direction has basiclly been to teach me how to discern God's will. So often he would tell me something like, You know what the right thing to do is, don't you? I consider it third step stuff. But the old intro amkes it clear that it is not. This is more properly the realm of the eleventh step maybe.

Second Wind


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Doll" is a liar. First off, NO original member of A.A. would have DARED to alienate another member over drinking. Dr. Bob himself said "no alcoholic ought be denied ANY opportunity to recover." Furthermore, the Preamble isn't even "canon" A.A, much like the bulk of what is printed in the monthly Grapevine. In fact, the line about BEING a"meeting in print" is NOT in the Grapevine Statement of Purpose, but rather "it is OFTEN, , our meeting in print." It, like the false "Twelve Rewards," is merely one egotist's opinion, an attempt to put themselves on a pedestal by trying to QUALIFY as the founders' equal, when Bill and Bob stated from the start, LONG before Tradition came into being, that all members serve the Fellowship as equals...and this was in an era where, alcoholic or not, social status made the difference between being allowed to borrow a cup of sugar or not from your neighbor. I digress. "Doll" claims that "her" version of the sacrilegious Preamble is the "1940 original..." the KNOWN version of the Preamble didn't get written until 1947, and was largely plagiarized from the Foreword to the First Edition...which was written in 1938 and published in 1939. "Doll" is a narcissist and a liar. Unfortunately for her, I am a longtime member of the Fellowship who is ALSO a FERVENT student of the PROGRAM'S history, and ENTIRELY unafraid to attach my God-given name to my public statement...however, out of respect for the very Traditions she so eloquently MUTILATED, namely Tradition Eleven, I withhold my full surname in favor of initial...but I promise you that any member of Pittsburgh A.A. will know who I am within the first sentence.

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