Big Book Promises With Every Step: (Alcoholics Anonymous)

Updated: Feb 6

AA Promises for Each Step

Alcoholics Anonymous is all about promises. Not all are stated directly. Some are implied but are still very real. They exist at each stage of the 12-step program, As AA members know, these promises are achievable. Let’s look at some of these promises for each of the twelve steps. For each step, the text containing the promises is shown in bold and then lists them as bullet points below.


First Step Promise

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. (pg. 59)

1. It is okay to admit powerlessness and admitting it is the first step of claiming life back alcohol.

2. The promise of an alternative. When the alcoholic reaches a point when they admit defeat, they are seeking the promise of something better.

3. The promise of a rise from rock bottom. Rock bottom is the ultimate low for a given individual. Once it has been reached, the only way is up. This is the promise of the first step – the rise to a better alternative.

4. Do not be discouraged, the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous says (p.60). The promise of better means that we can advance confidently.


Second Step

That God could and would if He were sought. (p. 60)

1. There is a solution to a drinking problem.

2. God is the solution. Our Higher Power can do what we could not do for ourselves.

3. All we need to do is reach out to God and God will respond by helping us. This is the great fact of this program of recovery.

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. (p.60)

We do not need to be perfect; we need to be willing to strive towards growth. If we do, we are promised progress.

We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed. (p. 25)

1. There are possibilities beyond anything we had dared imagine.

2. There can be a sense of heaven as we live a life of sobriety.

3. We will experience a spiritual awakening.

4. We can reach a higher plane.


Third Step Promises

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (p. 59)

1. We can each have an understanding of God that is different from the way other people perceive the Deity and that is okay.

2. The nature of our spiritual beliefs doesn’t matter. All that matters is turning to God

As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn. (p.63)

The promises implied here are mind-blowing.

1. We will know and feel a new power.

2. We will become conscious of our Higher Power’s presence.

3. There will be peace of mind.

4. We will be able to face life effectively.

5. We will stop being afraid.

6. We will experience a rebirth.

Being all powerful, He provided what we needed. (p. 63)

1. God is more powerful than anything even our drinking.

2. God will provide our needs and not necessarily our wants unless what we want is what we actually need. Needs and wants are not always the same thing.

An effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once (p. 63)

1. The effects of handing ourselves over to God to be cared for brings about an immediate change.

Fourth Step Promises

If we have been thorough about our personal inventory, we have written down a lot. We have listed and analyzed our resentments. We have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality. We have commenced to see their terrible destructiveness. We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on them as sick people. We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can. (p. 70)

1. Mental health can be achieved.

2. We can begin to change.

3. We see the pointlessness of our past antipathies and how damaging they can be.

4. We see that we can be prepared to make amends.


Fifth Step Promises

We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience.

1. We will move from a belief in God to an experience of God.

2. We will experience perfect peace.

3. Fear will disappear.

4. We can become confident.

Sixth Step Promises

Delay is dangerous and rebellion may be fatal (12 and 12, p. 69)

This is an inverse promise. The promise is that hesitation and rejection are risky reactions and may lead to failure.


Seventh Step Promises

By this time in all probability, we have gained some measure of release from our more devastating handicaps. We enjoy moments in which there is something like real peace of mind. To those of us who have hitherto known only excitement, depression, or anxiety–in other words, to all of us–this newfound peace is a priceless gift. (12 and 12, p. 74)

1. There is the possibility of release from what made us sick people.

2. Release from our handicaps is possible and may have started, but even more is possible.

3. Real peace can be found and it is a gift beyond measure.

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. (p.59)

1. Our shortcomings can be removed by our Higher Power.

2. We can become humble, and it is not the same thing as being humiliated.

3. Humility is a path to recovery.

Eighth Step Promises

It is the beginning of the end of isolation from our fellows and from God (12 and 12, p. 82)

1. Isolation can come to an end.

2. Reunion with family members is possible.

3. Those wonderful ties we used to have can be resumed.

4. We will know a fellowship of spirit.

5. We will be aware of the nearness of God.


Ninth Step Promises

The best known of all the promises of A.A. (p. 83) These are so well known that they are generally called The Promises and are read out at every meeting.

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity.
We will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.
Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Tenth Step Promises

By this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality--safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. (pp. 84-85)

1. Sanity will return.

2. Normal responses will return.

3. Interest in drinking will disappear, but if it does surface, we reject it automatically.

4. Our attitude towards liquor will be changed.

5. Rejecting the opportunity to drink will become natural and done by reflex.

Eleventh Step Promises

Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. (p.85)

1. We become aware of the dictates of a Higher Power.

2. We will experience a new sense of power.

3. We are guided by effective spiritual experiences.

4. God can strengthen us.

What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. (p.85)

As long as we maintain a fit spiritual condition, we can avoid returning to substance abuse.


Twelfth Step Promises

Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. (p. 89)

1. Immunity is possible.

2. Each of us will discover “the way of my usefulness.”

3. In helping others achieve sobriety, we help to keep ourselves sober.

When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God's hands were better than anything we could have planned. (p. 100)

1. When we compare our current lives with the chaos of our drinking days we will see just how huge the changes have been.

2. That alcohol is never a solution to an issue

Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances! (p. 100)

1. We can transcend our situation.

2. No matter the situation our new approach to life will affect our attitude to any circumstance.

3. Drinking will only serve to make any given problem worse.

The Pre-step Promise

Writing this post, one thing kept striking me. Before the steps of A.A. are listed in the Big Book, they are introduced by a promise. I felt that to make this post complete, I needed to include it.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery. (p.59)

1. This promises, miraculously, that recovery is possible.

2. By following this 12-step recovery program, the drink problem can disappear.

3. There are other such people as us who have overcome alcohol addiction.


In Conclusion

Every step of this journey to recovery is governed by promises. Some are stated and some we have to look for between the lines of the A.A. books. Together these promises contain a group of overarching, larger promises. Together they promise the still suffering alcoholic that:


Even in the face of collapse, a recovery process exists that can lead to:


1. An end to substance abuse.

2. That the present circumstances when entering A.A. do not have to be the final circumstances.

3. A new way of life.

4. A wonderful world.

5. A life where we are in communion with the God of our understanding and that Higher Power acts to keep us sober.

6. God can and will revolutionize our lives if sought and earnestly asked to do so.


Note: Except where specified all quotes are from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous