The Three Legacies of AA are: Recovery, Unity, and Service.
Below please find AA conference-approved literature online to get started reading and understanding the Program and how it works.
Houston Intergroup AA Bookstore
Big Book (Online) - this is our basic text. This link will open in a new tab and allow you to access the Big Book one chapter at a time online. Please purchase the Big Book for yourself so you can read it in its entirety and reference it as you grow in your recovery. You can do this through your local Intergroup.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Online) - this is our other basic text explaining each step and tradition in detail. The link will open in a new tab and allow you to access the 12 & 12 one chapter at a time online. Please purchase your own copy through your local Intergroup.
The AA Group Online (pamphlet) - this link will open in another tab and take you to a PDF of The AA Group pamphlet. The AA Group is the top tier of the AA structure. The 1st Tradition states that, "Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity."
"Each group has but one primary purpose - to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety." (Tradition 5) Understanding the functions of an AA group allow members to ensure that their group's primary purpose is served. This pamphlet explains the suggested AA group structure for maximum service to its members as it relates to the Traditions. It defines the trusted servant roles and other valuable functions within the group.
Questions & Answers on Sponsorship (pamphlet) - this link will open the Q & A PDF in a new tab. This pamphlet explains the role of a sponsor beautifully and has a wonderful FAQ section. It will get the newcomer started on their way with important information on choosing (and staying with) their sponsor in their recovery.
Living Sober (Online) - this link will open in a new tab and take you to the Living Sober Chapters online. Living Sober is a book that is written to assist newcomers with the early days of sobriety. It is very useful and an easy read. Please consider purchasing your own copy through Intergroup.
A. A. for the Older Alcoholic - Never Too Late - Eight alcoholics share their stories of finding recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous after the age of 60. Far from feeling that their lives are over, these men and women express that, having come to A.A., it is time to start living. Large-print format suitable for those with low vision. General Service Conference-approved.
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
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.
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.
The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous
Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous
Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.
The General Service Conference of A.A. has become, for nearly every practical purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole society in its world affairs.
To insure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A.—the Conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs, committees, and executives—with a traditional “Right of Decision.”
At all responsible levels, we ought to maintain a traditional “Right of Participation,” allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge.
Throughout our structure, a traditional “Right of Appeal” ought to prevail, so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive careful consideration.
The Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility in most world service matters should be exercised by the trustee members of the Conference acting as the General Service Board.
The Charter and Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments, empowering the trustees to manage and conduct world service affairs. The Conference Charter is not a legal document; it relies upon tradition and the A.A. purse for final effectiveness.
The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of over-all policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of these entities.
Good service leadership at all levels is indispensable for our future functioning and safety. Primary world service leadership, once exercised by the founders, must necessarily be assumed by the trustees.
Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined.
The trustees should always have the best possible committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Composition, qualifications, induction procedures, and rights and duties will always be matters of serious concern.
The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and whenever possible, substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government; that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.
The 12 Principles of Alcoholics Anonymous
Step 1: Honesty
“We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.”
The first step in AA is about admitting your powerlessness, which boils down to a level of honesty that many addicts haven’t reached until now. Many people under the spell of addiction or alcoholism think that “it’s not that bad” or that they can “stop at any time.”
It’s almost counterintuitive: The way to be released from the power addiction has over you is to admit how truly powerless you are. Carrying honestly forward in your sobriety doesn’t focus on being honest to others, but to yourself.
Step 2: Hope
“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
Step 2 is about finding faith in some higher power, and the accompanying principle of hope means that you should never give up that faith, even when you suffer a setback.
This virtue is easy to understand when it comes to practicing it on a daily basis. In recovery, not every moment will be positive, but if you keep that hope and faith alive, you’ll come back out on the other side.
Step 3: Surrender / Faith
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
In Steps 1 and 2, AA instructs members to strip themselves bare of ego and power. Step 3 involves putting yourself at the mercy of this higher power and moving forward for “Him” — or whatever your higher power may be — over the selfishness of addiction.
The way to carry this principle forward is to always remind yourself that you’re at the mercy of a higher power, and you don’t come first.
Step 4: Courage
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Step 4, which involves documenting every mistake you’ve ever made, is clearly tied to courage. Some of your past will be painful, and you’ll likely have to face some of your biggest regrets.
Living with courage means that you can start fresh without forgetting your past completely.
Step 5: Integrity
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Step 5 is about taking the moral inventory made in step 4 and admitting first to God, next to yourself, and last to another person.
You can practice integrity in your recovery by talking through everything that you feel guilty about and your mistakes. Basically, having integrity is to live honestly.
Step 6: Willingness
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
In step 6, you have to prepare for your sins to be taken away by admitting to yourself that you’re fully ready to move past them.
Willingness as a virtue means you have to be ready to be absolved so that you can move forward without looking back. You should have willingness in everything you do.
Step 7: Humility
“Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.”
In step 4, you made a catalog of your past, and in step 6, you admitted them and released yourself from the guilt and shame. Step 7 is being willing to be released from your past. In step 8, you ask God, or another higher power, for forgiveness.
Humility is one of the simplest principles to understand because it’s straightforward. When you’re humble, you’re cognizant of the fact that you’re not a major part of the bigger picture. Humility in daily practice means never seeing yourself as more important than you are.
Step 8: Love / Brotherly Love
“Made a list of all the persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to all of them.”
Love is empathy and compassion, and Step 8 asks you to make a list of everyone you’ve wronged in your journey to where you are now. That’s not all, though. You also have to be willing to make amends, which shows that you truly care for the people on your list.
Practicing your sobriety with the principle of love means that you’re not just existing for yourself but in service to the people you care about.
Step 9: Responsibility / Discipline
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
By Step 9, you’ve forgiven yourself for your past. Now you need to make amends to others so that you can start fresh with them as well.
The principle of responsibility is reflected directly in this step, and practicing in life is clear: If you hope to remain close with those around you, you must be honest and open about your mistakes that impacted them.
Step 10: Discipline / Perseverance
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Step 10 relates to its own principle very clearly. It’s one thing to take personal inventory and admit our wrongs one time. It takes discipline to continue to do this over an entire lifetime.
Step 11: Awareness / Spiritual Awareness
“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.”
Step 11 is about moving forward without losing track of a higher power. The continued awareness this demands makes it easy to pair the step with its accompanying principle.
Living with awareness means always paying attention to the higher power that guides you.
Step 12: Service
“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.”
The final Step of AA is to pay it forward. You’ve worked your way through the entire process of growing and setting yourself up for success in sobriety, and now you have the opportunity to guide less experienced members through their own journey. Living with the principle of service means it’s your responsibility to help others as you were helped when you first started to work the 12 steps.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
God, grant me the Serenity To accept the things I cannot change...
Courage to change the things I can, And Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Third Step Prayer
God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life.
Seventh Step Prayer
My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.