Panic Disorder 411

Alcoholism Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with Father Joseph Martin - Text

Good evening. An alcoholic wandered into a tavern, saw a sign that read, "All you can drink - $1.00" and said, "I'll have $2.00 worth." It takes something special to understand the alcoholic, and it takes something a little more special to help him get sober. What I'd like to do this evening is just make some personal comments about the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the most powerful therapy on earth.

First of all, I do so with the permission of the Central Office of AA. They discovered in the writings of its founder, Bill Wilson, a statement to the effect that AA did not invent these 12 principles, they simply discovered them. They'd been around for centuries. And so it was felt that anyone should be allowed to make any comment he chooses.

Secondly, I am, however, not a representative of AA nor am I an official spokesman for AA. There is no such thing. By what token then do I make these remarks? As a clergyman, I have dealt with the problem over a lot of years. And in order to learn something about the disease and how to deal with it, I have availed myself of its invitation to attend open meetings. In the area where I live, there is read before every meeting a prologue that says, "We welcome and appreciate the cooperation of the medical profession, the clergy and the public in general." So I have gone to hundreds of AA meetings, and I would like to share with you what I have learned from the men and women of that magnificent fellowship.

AA started in 1935 in the Akron, Ohio home of Henrietta Seiberling by two men, Bill Wilson, a stockbroker, and Dr. Bob Smith, a surgeon. Desperate to stay alive, they reached out to anyone and everyone who might be able to help them. They accepted everything offered, keeping what worked and discarding what didn't. And they came up with these 12 simple sentences whereby they got well and have helped hundreds of thousands of others to get well.

Please note, as we go along, every single one of these steps is written in the past tense. It's the only therapy on earth that dares to do that. They are not theorizing, e.g. "If you do this, this might happen." They are chronicling what had been done. We've already done these things—this is the way we got sober. And I would just like to make some comments on these brilliant principles.

The very first principle in AA is the tremendous importance for each new alcoholic to get a sponsor, someone already in AA, to guide him in the living of an AA life. As a man once told me, "It was not these twelve principles printed on a sheet of paper that saved my life. Someone could have mailed them to me. I could have read them and died drunk. It was a man who saved my life, my sponsor. It was the 12 steps carved in his life that simply made me want to be like him. All I had to do was to do what he told me to do. And what he told me to do was these 12 things. If you do them, we promise certain things, and if you don't do them, we promise certain things."

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Let's begin at the beginning. "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable." Ladies and Gentlemen, powerless is an absolute term. There are no ifs, no ands, no buts, no qualifications, no conditions. It is an acknowledgement of total surrender to a fact that is completely unpleasant, I can't handle alcohol. The alcoholic says, "When I drink it, I lose. When I fight it, it wins." Surrender to an inanimate object, but paradoxically enough, the alcoholic surrenders to gain victory. He loses the battle to win the war.

So the only way he will take on the rest of these 11 steps is to have this one firmly in mind. To me, Step 1 is not something that you take and then go on. Step 1 is an acknowledgement of one's condition. The alcoholic says, "I cannot handle alcohol. It handles me. I am an alcoholic down here (points to gut), not just up here (points to head)." I know some intellectuals who have acknowledged "up here" that they are alcoholics, but they really haven't bought it down in the guts of their souls, and they end up dead because of all terminal diseases, alcoholism is the most terminal.

If an alcoholic does not quit the drinking, if he does not stop, the drinking will ultimately stop him. And so, he must acknowledge what is so. He admits a colossal weakness. And Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the things in AA that many, many people find difficult to do is to acknowledge a weakness. But, my gosh, that's the strength of an alcoholic, the acknowledgement that he can't handle alcohol because if he builds his life around that fact, he can live contentedly without it.

My friends, a moron knows how strong he is, but a genius knows how weak he is. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a conviction of mine that the depth and the seriousness with which an alcoholic will work the next 11 steps depends directly on the depth and seriousness with which he accepts Step 1.

I cannot handle alcohol. When the alcoholic acknowledges that he is completely helpless, all of his own efforts have failed, he then ceases to be hopeless. Now there is hope. And where there is hope, he will reach out for help because when on the back burners of his mind, the alcoholic still believes that he can handle a drink, he'll try—he'll try. This is an absolute powerless, powerless.

Many an alcoholic says, "My life unmanageable? I never lost a wife. I never lost a family. I never lost a job. I didn't lose my cars. I still have a bank account." The director of a treatment center once told me that a man who had attended some of his lectures while he was in treatment came to his office one day and said those things never happened to me. And the fellow said, "Fine, we have just discussed what alcohol has not done to you. Now let's talk about what it has done." And he had him. "Number one, you're here. We don't treat people with string bean problems here. Alcohol, alcohol, that's what brought you here." And then they went on to the other things.

Ladies and Gentlemen, do you know what the alcoholic is like in his drinking days? The alcoholic is a man or a woman who climbs into a boxing ring with a champion and gets beat up. And he keeps doing that, and he keeps doing that, and sixteen years of doing this, he climbs out of bed one day and is all black and blue. He's on his hands and knees, and guess what he's wondering as he crawling toward the ring? How can I not get beat up today? AA leans over his shoulder and says, "Don't get in the ring." That's too simple. Too simple. And yet, you know the statement that you hear in AA, "If you don't take a drink, you can't get drunk."

One strength is acknowledging his weakness. If I know I'm going to get beat up when I get in there, I don't get in there, and I stay well. That's what step 1 is about. A lot of people do find that this word "unmanageable" is unacceptable simply because they haven't lost a whole lot. I heard a man say this, "When I was drinking alcohol, an inanimate object controlled the greatest gift God gave me. My mind." Seriously, when you think about it, during your drinking days, alcohol controls about 95% of the alcoholic's thought, controls people you associate with and those you stay away from. It dictates the restaurants you go into, and those you stay away from. Come on. Alcohol is in control of the life of the alcoholic.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

So, what does he do? How does the alcoholic get out of this? How does he in his helplessness reach out for hope and help. When he's introduced to AA, he enters a room and looks at sober alcoholics. And if he keeps coming back and looks at enough sober alcoholics, and he listens, 22 years, 11 years, 8 years, 6 years, he comes to believe that something bigger than himself can get him well. He knows that good health recovery is possible. He's looking at it. So, he comes to believe that a power greater than himself, "power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

If I acknowledge inside of me that the power to not drink is not in here (pointing to his gut), but I know it's somewhere because somebody's using it, I can see sober people, then the power has to be outside of me. If it's not in, it's out. You don't need a master's degree to grab that. "Restore me to sanity?" It's a little bit difficult for some people to grasp. Odd, it's hard enough being drunk, don't tell me I was crazy, too.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I was privileged once in my life to have met Bill Wilson. It was in 1960, and I was with a national clergy conference on alcoholism, and we were there to learn something about the disease. And it was the first and only time that Bill had ever addressed that group, and he explained exactly what he meant by this. The insanity of the alcoholic is not the nutty things when he's drunk. You non-alcoholics do nutty things when you get drunk. The insanity of the alcoholic, according to Bill Wilson, is when the alcoholic is completely physically sober, and he picks up the first drink of the next series. That is totally irrational behavior. It is insane to choose to consume a drug that is killing you.

You remember from the old "Chalk Talk," I/E is the formula for rational behavior—Intellect predominating over Emotions. Add A, alcohol to the formula, drug the brain that controls intellect and you will have the reversal, E/I, so you find emotions dominating the life of the alcoholic, and reason goes to seed. Doesn't the Big Book of AA refer to alcoholism as "self will run riot?" E/I, the insanity of alcoholic behavior plus AA is a reversal again back to normalcy. And the power to do that has to come from outside of self if I've already admitted that I don't have it.

Power greater than self. I've heard many in AA is completely terrified of God because of the things that he did during his drinking days. That, by the way, is why Bill Wilson made one change in the 12 steps. He used to have God (instead of a power greater than ourselves), and it was too threatening in the beginning, so he substituted that phrase, "Power greater than ourselves."

I have heard already sick alcoholics told by sponsors or by others, "Well, if you have no God, try that coffee cup or that fence post or that radiator. Ladies and Gentlemen, I take great exception to that for this reason. In the next breath, people will say, "Keep coming to meetings. You have to come to meetings. But if I'm told that the power that will restore me to sanity is a coffee cup—if I were new to AA, I would kiss you good-bye by saying, "I have a coffee cup at home. I don't need your meetings if that's where I'm to get sobriety.

My friends, the alcoholic is already sick. He already has a horrible image of self. Don't hold up as something greater than human nature, something that is already inferior to it. Why not hold up the power of the group as a power greater than self? Either way, AA's most beautiful motto (is) "We can do what I can't." Example: the example of others, four is greater than one, two is bigger than one, a hundred thousand is bigger than one—that's a power greater than self. Ultimately, we hope, people will come to believe in a supreme being that is a power greater than all, but that's another tale.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Once I acknowledge that there is a power that is capable of restoring me to sanity as it has restored a whole lot of others to sanity, I have to get in touch. And so I make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as AA says, "as we understood him." I know a lot of priests in AA, and they say, "I'm not here as a Catholic priest talking Catholic theology. I would just like to say that I have a God of my understanding as you have a God of your understanding." "I turned myself over to God. My philosophy did not work," says the alcoholic. "I continued to get drunk. What I must do is shift my whole inner being over to another philosophy of life that will work. Now I know it works because I'm looking at it. And you're telling me that these 12 steps are the things that do it. And so this is the care of God that I put myself in. I make a decision to turn my will and life over to God, and then I spend every day the rest of my life trying to carry out that decision."

Basically and bluntly, AA is a rather simple thing. Step 1- I can't handle it. Step 2 - God can. Step 3 - I think I'll get in touch. These get the alcoholic sober. Now the problem is staying that way.

Ladies and Gentlemen, every alcoholic gets sober hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times in his life. When you can't drink anymore, you have to stop, and ultimately you get sober. The problem is you always begin again. Insanity. The insanity of the alcoholic starting it over again. How do we stay well? There's one line in the Big Book that says, "Half measures availed us nothing."

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

What happens in alcoholism? The whole human being is destroyed. Body, mind, emotion, and soul. What is recovery? The restoration of body, mind, emotion, and soul. In other words, the job has to be complete. The job has to be complete. There needs to be a total overhaul of the human being. Where do we begin? By finding out what has to be done. We have to find out what has to be done.

Every store, every business takes an inventory every so often. And so, "We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Why is that word "moral" here in this business that we call a disease? We have to make a basic distinction. Ladies and Gentlemen, the disease is not immoral. The subsequent behavior, which is a result of a drugged conscience is always immoral, and the alcoholic cannot live with all of that, his past behavior, sober. Somehow or other, he's got to resolve the guilt of his past. What does an inventory do? Shows me what I've got, shows me what I haven't got, shows me what has to go.

This is what we have to do with a human life. What have I got? Plenty. I've got plenty. Part of the pride of many alcoholics is a horrible self-image in which he says, "I'm a nothing, and I've got nothing." Then why did God single you out to get well when 10 others might die. For every alcoholic that gets well, there are a number who won't.

Every alcoholic has to ask himself, "Why me?" Many alcoholics say, "Why am I an alcoholic?" When the question should be, "Why was I singled out to get well?" I don't know why, but I believe this. I can't prove it, but I believe it. I believe that everybody has within them some talent that is capable of touching another human heart that others can't touch. You better find out what it is.

You're going to be asked to use it someday. God never made (inaudible) of nothing. I've got plenty of talents and so do you. There's a whole lot that I don't have, and many of us spend our lives envying people their talents. Good heavens, forget that. You know AA is a wise mother. I've learned this. You ever heard all this psychiatric stuff—he's an alcoholic because he has an inferiority complex. Let's probe your child... You know what AA does, looks you right in the eye and says, "Did it ever occur to you that you might have an inferiority complex because you're inferior?" I'm inferior to everybody in some way or another. Accept that and get on. Where God gave me talents, I'm supposed to use them and develop them. And you develop yours. And if we walk hand in hand, and you make your contribution, and I make mine, we might save a life.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

What has to go is all the undesirable stuff in my life, my bad habits, really. Now watch this. How do I resolve guilt? We admitted to God, he knows anyway, to ourselves—that's a little tough, and to one other human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. Ladies and Gentlemen, everyone of us has three (vewpoints of himself). I am who I think I am—it's about that far off target (hands spread apart). I am who you think I am. It's about 9,000 miles off target. Then, there's the real me, and AA makes the alcoholic try to find the real self not the false image in his own mind, not the false image in the minds of others, but the real one. You know how it's done,—simplicity itself. Look at the record. Look at the record. Look at the record. And as the Big Book suggests, write it out.

A man whom I respect very deeply once made the statement after he had written out his life (experiences). He said, "I was absolutely appalled at what alcohol, alcoholism had done to me." He was looking at it. My friends, the surest way to humility is through humiliation. The surest way to humility is through humiliation. And there's nothing more humiliating than having one other human being know the real me.

Who of you in this room would want any given 24 hour period of your life, every thought, every desire, every word, every feeling shown on a screen to the rest of the world? I wouldn't want you to see my best day. This is what resolves guilt. How many of you have found you go away on a weekend retreat, and somehow or other the grace of God touches you, and you begin to unburden your life to another human being? And somehow, the burden of it all is lifted?

You know, modern psychiatry thinks that it has discovered that one on one ventilation is good for the soul. We Catholics have had it for centuries. It's called confession. The psychological value of that, apart from the spiritual business—the pure psychological value, making known your true self to another human being is absolutely invaluable.

Please remember this. Please. If sobriety could be gained through 10 steps, that's all there'd be. If sobriety could be gained through 5 steps, that's all there'd be. Ladies and Gentlemen, these things aren't here because they're nice. They're here because they're necessary.

Step 5 is meant to be a once in a lifetime job to resolve your past. Austin Ripley, my friend, used to say, "It's value will come to you only after you have done it." But its value was great indeed. It's the most humiliating thing that can happen to anybody., so it's meant to be done once in a lifetime. I know AA's who have taken it too soon when their memories weren't straight and have had to go over it and over it. They've had to live in agony, and some give birth to scrupulosity, and it's nothing more than a hindrance to their progress.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

"We were entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character." Well, as one AA put it, "My defects have character," and I believe that's true of anybody. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have heard that Step 5 is getting rid of the garbage. No it's not. Your past is there, and it's nailed in. You don't get rid of it. You simply commend it to the mercy of God. It's the only thing you can do with it, and then you can learn from it.

You know the garbage you have to get rid of? The present things in your life that make you less than lovable. And we have to get ready to have God remove these defects. You know the brilliance of AA, the magnificence of these 12 steps? You know how normal people function? They prepare, and then they execute. You know how the alcoholic functions? Lots of prep and no judgement. That wonderful story they tell about an airplane going across the ocean, and the pilot came on the PA system. He said, "I have two announcements. One's good and one's bad. He said, "The bad announcement is we're lost. The good announcement is we're making excellent time." Perfect example of the alcoholic in action. He hasn't the foggiest notion where he's going, but he's getting there quick.

He is asked now that he has the I back over the E—intellect predominating over his emotions again, he's asked to use it and to function normally by preparing before he executes. Watch the psychological brilliance of AA. We admit we have a problem before we try to solve it. We enter a room and look, and we come to believe that we can get that way too. We make a decision to turn of lives over to God, then we try to do it. We take an inventory of ourselves, and then we make it known.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

We become ready to have God remove out defects, and then we ask him to do it. The way normal, normal people function that's the way we learn to function, and then we get well.

To become ready to have God remove our defects of character. Do you know why we have to become ready? Most of us are too attached to our defects of character. We love them. I love to nag. I love to take people's inventories. I love to hear the worst about people. I love to make quick judgements, especially when they nail somebody. These are the things we fight against (having removed), and if they have become ingrained in a lifetime, we have to get ready to have them removed.

But let me just share with you how I sometimes pray to God to remove some of the things that are unpleasant in my life. Let's take the universal human ailment of impatience. I suffer from it tremendously. You know how God handles the alcoholism of the alcoholic? God gives the alcoholic the power to not drink, then he gives them the steps to exercise that power. God gives us strength. The alcoholic does the footwork. God doesn't make you sober. He gives you the strength to be sober by exercising the steps. You know how in removes the shortcomings of anyone? He gives us the strength and then the opportunities to exercise that strength.

Usually, we don't see the opportunities when they hit us right in the face. Let's take impatience. I don't even think about being impatient when I'm impatient until it hurts somebody and then (snaps fingers) why did I say that? Why did I do that? Dear God, please make me more patient. And somehow, and I'm not joking, somehow or other I just believe that God will do it. He'll just make me patient. But he doesn't. He'll give me the strength to be patient, and then he'll give me a whole lot of opportunities through the day to exercise it.

Have you ever been in an AA meetings—I've been to plenty of them—when a fellow tears into a spiel and says, "What a day. Boy I need a meeting. I had a flat going to work. I came home to find my wife ran off with my best friend. My grandmother died in childbirth. Somebody shot my dog. My house burned down. You know, and boy do I need a meeting. And an old pro in the back of the room says, "Sounds to me like God gave you a hundred opportunities to grow, and you blew them all."

What I have to do is recognize the hand of God in the little teeny things that happened to me during the day to exercise the strength for the very thing that I've asked Him for. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings. Sometimes, he does it in very, very painful ways to us, very painful, indeed. Prepare and then execute.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

"Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all." Have you ever found yourself in the position of owing an amend to somebody who owes an amend to you? Who acts first? Where do I get the strength to do what ought to be done?

I've been to a lot of AA meetings in which people go through all the hell that they lived through. It's wonderful. It's a great thing to reflect on the pain that alcoholism brought to you. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am utterly convinced that meditation about pain is most valuable when we meditate not so much on the pain that we suffered as on the pain that we caused. And if we had taken an inventory as it should be made, we will have a list of those we had harmed, and we have to become willing to make amends because some amends are almost impossible to make.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Then we carried it out, the execution. "We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." My friends, I think it is absolutely essential for the alcoholic to have the help of a sponsor or someone in making amends.

Some amends are pretty serious. I have known people who have taken their fifth step, for example, to their spouse and absolutely destroyed another human being just in order to feel good. Have any of you ever heard this from a sponsor? "Well, make amends, it will make you feel good." That's not why you make amends. If it makes you feel good. Fine. We make amends because they ought to be made. I compare making amends to paying you phone bill. If you want to grin while you're doing it, be my guest, but just pay the bill. Just pay the bill. If you get a kick out of it, that's fine, that's fine. Please get advice on this, please.

Let me share something with you. A man went to a building that was owned by a company that he had worked for. He was a writer, and he said in his drinking days, he did things that offended everybody. And he began to apologize from the chairman of the board in the penthouse office down. And he had a golden tongue. He could make a stone weep. He could. And he was giving this magnificent talk on alcoholism, and what it had done to him, and what it had made him do, and how sorry he was that he had caused pain. And they were all patting him on the head and giving him cookies and milk, and he was having a wonderful time. And he went from floor to floor apologizing till he got to one man's office, and the fellow listened to his story. He said, "Mr.," direct quote, "you were and SOB then, and you're one now. Get out of my office." He was hurt, and he was angry, and he ran to the elevator in that building and pressed the button, waiting for it to come so he could go and get a cab and go to the airport and go back to Chicago.

He had forgotten all of the forgiveness that he had been given. He was only aware of his pain. And while he was waiting for that elevator, this thought struck him: That man did not have to accept my apology. I had to give it.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Watch step 10, please, the brilliance of AA. She is a wise and a loving mother. She knows that there is taking place a tremendous change in personality, in living, and everything else, but she is the realist. She knows that the alcoholic is what he is; he was what he was; he did what he did; and given the chance, he might do a whole lot of things again. So she advices him. "Continue to take personal inventory, when wrong, promptly admit it."

Now, there are two things, obviously, to avoid here. One who does not promptly admit it because he doesn't like to admit mistakes. I do not like to be wrong. No one does. I mean you can't be normal and enjoy being wrong. And so, this is for those who baulk at admitting a mistake. Then there's the other one, the peace at any price person, and I have fit that category. I'm sorry my nose got in the way of your fist. You know, when wrong, promptly admitted it. You know what that does? It's a marvelous thing. It prevents new beginnings.

Step 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.

Ladies and Gentlemen, just listen to the words, "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."

You know why an alcoholic ought to pray? It's only fitting. It's only fitting for a person to have a working relationship with the God who gave him the priceless gift of sobriety. I just tell people, "If you need someone to explain to you why you ought to pray to the God who gave you sobriety, there isn't a person on earth that can explain it." What else is there to say?

What is God's will for the alcoholic? Get sober and stay sober, and do these things. You can go to your grave on that minimal amount. I have heard too many alcoholics say, "When I was drunk, I used to bargain with God. Get me out of this, and I'll never drink again, but today, I meditate on..." Don't you ever undermine or understate the prayers you said when you were drunk. They were the best prayers you ever said. He answered them. You're here.

The prayer of a drunk is the prayer of a soul in pain. Those are the souls that God loves best. Don't ever forget that. You know why we have different kinds of prayer—for different occasions. I always compare prayer to clothing. You don't wear a bikini to the Arctic. You don't wear a parka at the equator. And so, there are times to meditate when you feel like it and when you're capable of it, but did you ever try to meditate with a toothache? Did you ever try to contemplate after major surgery? Did it ever occur to you that sometimes little prayers your mother taught you are the only link you might have to heaven at any moment of your life?

Step 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.

Now we come to AA's crowning glory. It's the only therapy on earth, I believe, that is, up until its time, had a twelfth step, a command to share with others.

Ladies and Gentlemen, elsewhere I speak of gratitude, but the loveliest definition I ever heard in my life was from Austin Ripley. He defined it as "the golden tray on which I offer to others what God has given me." Gratitude is the hinge on which the sober life swings. I've heard it said that if you do this, you'll get drunk; If you do that you'll get drunk; If you do the other thing, you'll get drunk. I know people who do quite a few things and don't get drunk, but I guarantee you this: It is impossible to stay sober without gratitude.

You know what Step 12 is? "Having had a spiritual awakening as the sole result of these steps." In other words, 12 comes after the first 11. "We tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs." Bill Wilson was the man who dreamed the impossible dream until he reached the unreachable star. And when he stood on that mountain with his full humanity restored, free from alcohol, he was a man again, a creature composed in the image of God. And he possessed within the confines of that magnificent heart of his, this priceless jewel that men and women had been looking for for centuries—Sobriety. Sobriety, but godlike now, he couldn't keep it to himself, and he had to do what God did when he created (everything).

Goodness tends to diffuse itself, and so he shared it with others. You know what step12 is? Gratitude in action. Don't tell me how grateful you are; Show me, and if you are grateful, you won't have to tell me because I'll see it. You know what the 12th step is? It's called walking the walk instead of talking the talk. The film "Patton" opened with the words, "No one ever won a war by dying for his country. We win wars by making someone else die for his country." And what I heard there was this: No alcoholic ever won the war against this disease by dying for it. We win the war against alcoholism by trying to help some other poor alcoholic live.

And the steps that I have seen never say: We tried to carry this message to alcoholics who picked up the telephone, called the Central Office, and asked us to. Dr. Bob did not call Bill Wilson. Bill, the sober alcoholic, called him. And that's why AA rooms are filled—because people have fulfilled this command. "Practice these principles in all our affairs." You can't be honest here and dishonest there, and be a sober alcoholic. These principles should permeate life.

In conclusion, Dr Bob, himself, summarized all of AA in six words. One, two, and three, trust God. Four through eleven, clean house. Step 12, help others. Trust God, clean house, help others. How simple can it be? And the only thing that these two men did was to discover what good people have been doing from the beginning. These are absolute principles to live by, and anyone who lives them honestly should be inspired by Bill Wilson's best slogan. Oddly enough, I've seen it in very few treatment centers. "The good is too often the enemy of the best." What are you worth? What type of sobriety are you worthy to shoot for?

If God loves the alcoholic enough to get him sober, why shouldn't he seek the best? I heard one man say that the principle he functions under since his sobriety... He wants the best, and he puts it this way: "Margarine covers the bread, but it ain't butter." And as he always says, "I like butter, and I hope you do too."

Those who conscientiously try to live these principles are able to say with conviction: My past is discharged; My present is secure; and, all other things being equal, my future is assured.

I remind you again that I'm no spokesman for Alcoholics Anonymous. Everything I've shared with you this evening is only meant to be a highlight or two. It would take a lifetime to say what I and others feel about these things, and what I have learned from men and women in AA. I have done this, however, with permission of the Central Office, and it has been a gigantic pleasure to do so. And now I would like to do something even more impossible, and express to the men and women of all ages in AA personal gratitude for what I have learned and the gratitude of a whole world.

This fellowship is so powerful and so strong that it has formed the basis for helping people with other human ailments. Overeating, gambling, narcotics, jumbled emotions, and a few other things. Austin Ripley used to say AA is the most powerful and finest university on earth. It is where priest learns from plumber how to live. He was right.

So to all of you in AA, I express my own gratitude for all you've done for me, and for all you have given to the world in your silent, anonymous way. To ask God to bless you seems too short. And so, if you'll permit me, I'll reach into my Irish heritage and wish you the blessing of the poetic, Irish heart:

May the road rise to meet you, and the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall gentle upon your fields. And, until we meet again, may the dear Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand. Good night. (Audio transcribed to text for educational and accessiblilty purposes.)

Chalk Talk was Father Joseph Martin's signature lecture and was widely utilized in most branches of the US Federal Government, business and industry, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and many state alcohol programs. He has made many other films, CDs and DVDs on various aspects of the disease of addiction and recovery. He is the author of several publications including "No Laughing Matter." In 1983, Martin and Mrs. Mae Abraham founded Father Martin's Ashley, a non-profit center dedicated to the treatment of the chemically addicted, located in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Martin also continued to work within the church and participated in the International Conference on Drugs and Alcohol sponsored by the Vatican in 1991. Alcoholics Anonymous

THE ROAD TO FORT WORTH by Michael Jackson Smith: Very little was known about panic disorder when I had my first panic attack. There was no help available to teach me how to assuage the attacks, but I discovered that alcohol would dissolve my fear instantly. My website contains the kind of information that would have been a tremendous help to me in the early days of my illness as I searched for solutions for the panic disorder, agoraphobia, and alcoholism that incapacitated me. My book is the story of my journey into recovery. Read Chapter 8 | Top of Page

My YouTube Channel Twitter Linkedin Contact me