Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions


holics Anonymous," published when our membership was
small, dealt with low-bottom cases only. Many less desper-
ate alcoholics tried A.A., but did not succeed because they
could not make the admission of hopelessness.

It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the fol-
lowing years this changed. Alcoholics who still had their
health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the
garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. As this trend
grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely
more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last
ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone
through. Since Step One requires an admission that our
lives have become unmanageable, how could people such
as these take this Step?

It was obviously necessary to raise the bottom the rest
of us had hit to the point where it would hit them. By go-
ing back in our own drinking histories, we could show that
years before we realized it we were out of control, that our
drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed
the beginning of a fatal progression. To the doubters we
could say, "Perhaps you're not an alcoholic after all. Why
don't you try some more controlled drinking, bearing in
mind meanwhile what we have told you about alcoholism?"
This attitude brought immediate and practical results. It
was then discovered that when one alcoholic had planted
in the mind of another the true nature of his malady, that
person could never be the same again. Following every
spree, he would say to himself, "Maybe those A.A.'s were
right...." After a few such experiences, often years before
the onset of extreme difficulties, he would return to us con-