Recovered versus Recovering — What’s your position?

Here is a letter published in the AA Grapevine, December 1999, Vol. 56 No. 7 from an AA member who expressed confusion over the phrases “recovered” versus “recovering” alcoholic:

At several meetings lately old-timers have been saying they are “recovered alcoholics.” The Big Book states: “It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism” (p. 85). To me, “recovered” means cured, and if I’m cured, I can drink socially and not get drunk. Doesn’t saying we’re “recovered” give us a false sense of security? Is this a lifelong program of recovery or is there a point at which I’m recovered? I’ve talked about this at several meetings, and had lengthy talks with old-timers, and now I’m totally confused. Help!

William E.
Farnham, New York

Published in the AA Grapevine, April 2000, Vol. 56 No. 11 were the responses from readers to the question of being a “recovered” alcoholic versus a “recovering” one:

Concerning “recovered” vs. “recovering,” there can be no confusion if we accept the Big Book as our basic text for recovery (p. xi).

The division in AA is deeper, however, than a disagreement over two words. There are in fact two camps in AA today. The first is the message of recovery documented in the Big Book as given us by our founders. The second is the New Age message which began infiltrating our AA rooms several decades ago and has become accepted by many if not most of our members. Its roots originate in treatment centers and rehabs.

In direct contradiction to the Big Book, New Agers tell us we’ll “never recover,” “always be recovering,” and “never get well.” The message from Bill W. and the first one hundred recovered alcoholics (p. xiii) uses the word “recovered” approximately twenty-three times; “recover,” twenty-eight; and “recovering,” only twice, and then in the context of the newcomer.

We never become cured from the physical allergy. Once we take a drink the phenomenon of craving will be triggered. This is what it means to say “we are not cured from alcoholism” (p. 85). But once we become recovered, the mental obsession to drink is removed. The physical allergy is rather a moot point. We now do not have to take that first drink. Being recovered is conditional. We remain recovered by staying in fit spiritual condition (p. 85).

Bill F.
Hyattsville, Maryland

Is part of the difficulty with “recovered vs. recovering” a result of the mixed message I keep hearing? When I was new in AA, they said I was sick, but I could get well if I would apply the AA principles on a daily basis. By doing so, I haven’t had a drink since my first meeting over sixteen-and-a-half years ago. That doesn’t mean I’m cured. It does mean, however, that I can no longer blame my aberrant actions on “alcoholism,” “my disease kicking in,” “my alcoholic mind,” or anything else.

Today, I hear that we are “always sick,” with an emphasis on problems. I’m so glad I got a lot more hope than that at my first few meetings. Sometimes I have to sit and scratch my head when I hear members talking about “continuing recovering” after ten, fifteen, or twenty-plus years of sobriety. Have they never read the Big Book or taken the Steps? Have they not found a Higher Power that will solve their problem?

I believe the process continues for a lifetime; there are no vacations or breaks. I cannot do it alone and found help through God, the group, and good sponsorship. The words of hope I heard still ring loudly for me. I remain thankful that those early members had the courage to speak up for their convictions to help convince me there was a real answer to alcoholism.

Gary K.
Parker, Colorado

Having heard numerous discussions on recovering vs. recovered, I prefer to focus on a different concept: “permanent recovery,” as used in the Big Book. For a vital requirement of this condition, see p. xvii.

Bill P.
Gulfport, Mississippi

I believe I have an obligation to carry the unequivocal message that complete recovery from alcoholism is not only possible, but probable, provided I’m willing to go to any length to achieve it. Now for the big question: when can an AA member claim to be fully recovered? The answer to this question can be found only in the heart, soul, and conscience of the individual, and is based on the quality, not quantity, of one’s sobriety. When one is recovered, one will know it. Ultimately, the great promise of AA for me is permanent recovery from alcoholism, which is contingent upon a constant state of grace being granted by my Higher Power. I can exist in this state of grace on a daily basis, and thus remain “recovered,” as long as I stay surrendered to alcohol and practice the Twelve Steps in all my affairs.

Larry P.
Hudson, New Hampshire

It is my belief, and that of one of the old-timers (forty-plus years) at my home group, that at some point, we recover from the seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. This does not mean we are “cured,” we are never “cured.” The only solution is a daily reprieve, based on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. And we must never rest on our laurels. However, at sixteen years, I firmly consider myself recovered. Now, I can continue with the matter of living life, no longer encumbered by the swamp that I came out of. Early on, I was recovering. But through the application of the Steps, use of outside resources when needed, and the persistence taught to me early on by a man who saved my life, I am recovered!

Michael R.
Campbell, California

When I introduce myself at a meeting I simply say: “My name is Jim–and I’m an alcoholic.” But when I introduce myself as a speaker, I call myself a “recovered alcoholic.” The difference being, that when I’m speaking I can then readily clarify my position, and lest I forget, it leads me straight to an opportunity to express my gratitude for how God and the principles of AA have brought me from an extremely hopeless state to a place of reasonable comfort and peace.

Jim M.
Bloomington, Minnesota

I prefer the past tense of “recovered alcoholic” for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that alcoholism is what has happened in my life, not what is currently happening. During the past seven years I have had heart bypass surgery, cancer, kidney surgery, and surgical repair of an aneurysm of the aorta. And here again, I recuped in fine style from each surgery–recovered if you will–and I feel great. To imply that I am still recovering from these surgeries, as well as my alcoholism, would seem to indicate there are still problems, and problems just do not exist. Secondly, heaven forbid that I would ever give a newcomer in AA the impression that he or she would normally be experiencing problems recovering from alcoholism after twenty-nine years of not drinking. In our text book, recovered is used quite extensively, starting with the forwards to each edition and throughout all 164 pages. Bill W. wrote, “Utopia, we have it with us here and now.” Utopia, would that be anything less than recovered?

Don A.
Lakeview, Arkansas

What do you think about “recovered” versus “recovering”? Send us your thoughts.


42 thoughts on “Recovered versus Recovering — What’s your position?

  1. My name is Yvon and I am a recovered alcoholic. When I was out there drinking, I blamed my alcoholism on all my life’s circumstances then for the first two years in the A.A. Fellowship, I blamed all my life circumstances on my alcoholism. Thank God and those few who carry THE message for having given me the opportunity to hear the A.A. Program and to recover. Today, I realize that, like everyone else in this big beautiful world, I suffer from “selfishness”/”self-centeredness”, not from alcoholism. For me, the problem has been removed. As long as I continue to Trust God, Clean House and Help Others, I will never again have to deal with the bottle which is but a symptom of the root of our human problem. Being a “recovered” alcoholic levels the playing field for me. It reminds me that after 24 years without taking a drink, I can no longer blame the bottle or my allergy to its content. By the way, I’m allergic to bananas too but I do not recall having ever blamed any of my problems on that one! LOL

    “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not…”

  2. This question is probably best answered by each individual member according to his/her belief in a power greater than ourselves that restores us to sanity…

    I agree there is no cure for the physical allergy; but the book was written to precisely show us how others have recovered (paraphrasing foreword to the first edition)…I am a recovered alcoholic because: I know, without a doubt, that I can never have a drink like "normal" people…I have found and completely abandoned myself to a Higher Power which has restored my sanity by giving me a sense of usefulness and purposefulness in my life…

    "Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust God and clean house" (AA Big Book, p98, Working With Others)

  3. Never thought about this before but I really do like the idea of saying ‘recovered’ and of course that I will stay ‘recovered’ based on maintaining a fit spiritual condition. It somehow sounds so much more POSITIVE! Yes! I like that. I think I’m going to ignore the ‘experts’ who claim I will never be ‘recovered’ ! ! ! I WILL remain ‘recovered’ if I keep spiritually well via the Big Book’s instructions.

  4. On page 132 of my Big Book it says, "We have recovered, and been given the power to help others".

    By working the Twelve Step program as described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and living in the disciplines of Steps 10, 11, and 12 everyday, I am able to remain abstinent from alcohol and all mind-altering substances. The obsession to drink has been removed. My progressive alcoholic illness has been arrested. My alcoholic disease has been put into remission. I have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

  5.  After eighteen years of trying to "stay away from a drink one day at a time" versus working these principles in all of my affairs for the last five, it is clear to me today what recovered is. I see "recovering" AA’s today who claim they have a life second to none, but I would’nt give them a plug nickel for what they have. Recovering is code for  having an excuse for living an angry, (or depressed) dishonest, problematic, unpricipled life. If I claim to be recovered, I have no more excuses. My problems ARE of my own making and I admit this to others. The only "day at a time" action that I take  is turning it over  God each day. If I am having a "bad" day, I am living in the old unrecovered insanity. Being recovered is realizing this insanity and being able to turn my will back over to God .

  6. I prefer the term recovering versus recovered because recovered some how sounds like I am fixed, However I will be recovering for life.

  7. But I am "fixed" and even so has God restored us all to our right minds! I’ve never talked to anyone suffering from a disease or illness who did not have, as their goal, to recover completely! Except of course, for most alcoholics! There is a line in my Bigger Book that says; "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" As I had to concede to my innermost self that I was an alcoholic in order to get well, I must also concede to my innermost self that I am recovered in order to Pass It On! The problem has been removed! Lack of power was my dilemma but today I have power and I call that Power God! God didn’t "almost" fix me, He FIXED me! He did for me what I could never have done for myself! I was always "recovering" until I let Him remove the problem! When dealing with alcoholics who still suffer, I draw their attention to me as a person who HAS RECOVERED and that is THE MESSAGE of AA! Not popular but one of hope to the alkie who has, as of yet, not found an answer. Am I perfect? Hardly! Am I recovered? Absolutely! Recovery from alcoholism is not a lifetime process but becoming of maximum service to God and the people about us certainly is!

    • Right On!!!
      I am also recovered, 17 years now. God healed me of the obsession to use and I have not desired to ever since! Recovery is possible, recovery is the goal, and if we surrender our wills and lives over to God, He will heal u!

  8. The first promise in the big book says the story of how over 100 men and woman have recovered…our hope is that when this chip of a book is launched on the world, a tide of alcoholic defeated drinkers will seize upon it to follow its suggestions…many we are sure will rise to their feet.(Big Book, page 153). Anyone who is hasn’t read the book would not get the recovered part. If you have gone threw the work in the book, then you are recovered.

  9. My name is Lupe and I am a recovering neurotic (I’m powerless over my emotions, my emotional and mental disease). Since I found stories of AAs attending meetings, doing service and working with others, but relapsing in drinking after years of abstinence, or dry but living a life of hell, and were taken through BB and 12 steps, I came to admit the previous work I did with the Steps was incomplete and I wasn’t recovered. My experience is I didn’t have the foundation, the stones and the exact guidelines to make the Step until an audio from a recovered AA member led me through BB.

    I must say I am recovering, even when I have a protegè, share my experience, and we’re working BB and steps together. But pioneers and this work makes me hang in there, following the clear-cut directions, and BB is full of sentences describing what a recovered member is and looks like, so it’s easy to see where I am and where I’m going to. I’ve came to believe it will be inevitable to be recovered if I follow BB’s directions.

  10. Hey friends:

    Funny, leave it to me to want a specific label to be of fit people worshiping condition..Do I or am I and arent you? They aren’t but we are..Like my selfwill run riot checklist, he’s screwed up and I’m OK, check! He doesn’t get the real program but I do, check! He’s spreading the disease and I’m in the solution, check! I’m everything and he’s not,check! The alcoholism illness centers in my mind, Huh?

    When I ask the Higher Power to direct my thinking here I see myself forever rearranging others to suit myself as the selfish problem creating my confusion. As I pray, It becomes clear that each for themselves will decide if they are recovered or recovering..It is my place to accept them as they are. I am willing to bring emotional security to the situation by my action as a power of example.Or of course I can decide whats best for you and everyone as an example of power in hopes of a bit of instant gratification. Damn selfish self centeredness…

    Today I have solved the drink problem, I have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body..

    Be good to yourself, share the new found freedom..

  11. As a Big Book Step follower who as a result of the psychic change offered through all 12 Steps laid out in masterly detail for the benefit of the hopeless alcoholic, it is now quite clear that when I stepped onto the Spiritual Path suggested as the 12 Steps, I surely began recovering..After the fearless and thorough 4th Step I made a good beginning..I then found myself faced with action and more action as faith without works is fear going nowhere but into a state of nothingness… When I made my decision to stay on the path to best serve my God and those who suffer or need a power of example, giving credit to the AA Step work I recovered..I am recovered today, right now at this writing..

    Alcohol is neither here nor there and has no effect on me as I maintain my fit Spiritual condition..I am willing to grow in understanding and effectiveness with my God and thereby am capable of honest decision making and rational thought..Today as a result of the 12 Steps especially 10 11 and 12 if not all of them, participating in life and a willingness to serve others has become a working part of my mind..I am reborn or if you like, restored..

  12. I have 38 years of sobriety and hadn’t gone to meetings in 20 years. I helped start a Big Book meeting 2 years ago, and now getting flank by one with 11+ years and a newcomer. One with 18 years is still an alcoholic. I believe you don’t get cured , but do believe you can recover, as it states 6+ places in the Big Book. Forward in First Addition really states recovered, and that was for 100 people from 1935 to 1939, with Bill and Bob in the mix. In 1955 (Second Addition) there were 150,000 recovered alcoholics.

  13. The term recovered vs recovering, is a personal view (at best). these phrases have been taken from the Big Book, and everyone gets there own meaning out of it in there own recovery program- as long as we follow these steps- life will get better. Like having a full time sponsor or grand-sponsor, the way it was put forth to begin with is that the sponsor of the individual helps the person through the steps- as a process of there own recovery. not that they have them as a student the rest of there lives, but it has been adopted that way. It comes down to ones own view on there recovery process. I am recovered, and need to maintain that with help from the group, but i would have to make a decision to not be recovered- if i picked up again. The DUDE

  14. “We realize we know only a little.” p. 164

    Recovered is past-tense. Recovering is present tense. My active drinking is now past-tense, but my ongoing path in AA is present tense.

    Much of what I read in the Big Book and here in these posts speaks to being recovered, and then needing to do ongoing maintenance to keep that state of being recovered. I think for me the words maintaining and recovering are synonymous. They mean precisely the same thing in my walk in AA. That’s how I define my recovery: I attend meetings regularly; have and use my sponsor; work the steps with my sponsor; do service in AA; have a relationship with a power greater than myself.

    If I’m recovered from a treatment for a disease, I don’t continue the treatment. If Im recovered from the disease of alcoholism I should not need to continue any treatment. To use the example of surgery that Don A. posited, now that Don is recovered from his surgery, would he continue the post-surgical methods that helped him heal property? No, and any good doctor would say that would be unnecessary. However, he may need to change certain aspects of his life in order to stay healthy, and that will be an ongoing active endeavor. That would be a continuation of his recovery from surgery.

    However, if I break my arm, after it has been in a cast, and I have done my PT and recovered from the break, I’m done. I need not change any further behavior, so the recovery process is complete.

    Today, rather than being declaring that I am one or the other, I don’t mind seeing my walk in AA as “both” recovered and recovering. Sobriety has given me that opportunity to be open and flexible to new ideas, to not have to be right or wrong, sick or well, black or white. I don’t need to throw “new age” ideas under the bus in order for me to know that AA is the best path for me. I would rather live in the final words of the book we so dearly cherish:

    “We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.”


    • I have been recovered for 17 years now, and I have not had a sponsor since my recovery. I have not been to meetings, have not called another alcoholic because I haven’t needed to. I recently started attending A.A. meetings because I want to share with others that they can recover if they are willing to do whatever it takes. They DO NOT have to be an addict the rest of their lives. God, the Creator is my healer, He is my everything. He is my desire.

  15. I myself came to this understanding of being recovered when I see that maintenance of my spiritual reality comes from God himself and not from my own doing. The only requirement is that I turn my will over everyday to his own. Of course I don’t do it perfect but I am learning to recognize that humility keeps me in the process of learning how to listen and follow through his direction.

  16. The term “recovered alcoholic” is just not proper English. If you take the literal meaning of the two words together it would imply that you are now normal and can drink just like normal people. You can’t cure your alcoholism through a 12 step program any more than you could cure a peanut allergy with a 12 step program. You have recovered from from many things that you should be proud of but being an alcoholic is not one of them. The Big Book was written by a man, a great man to be sure. But Human and imperfect like all of us. Just because it says it in the book, it does not make it so…

  17. I am never troubled by craving for alcohol. My last drink was thirty-nine years ago. I neither crave nor fear alcohol. It is irrelevant. I am recovered. “recovering” seems to imply that constant, unrelenting willpower is necessary. AA doesn’t teach that. Rehabs do.

  18. It amazes me how hard-headed and stubborn we can be in sobriety these days! We are not willing to change word of the Big Book (and other A.A. literature) and still change it in practice. Gone are the days when an old timer’s opinion counted for more than anybody else’s in the room! I doubt Bill W’s opinion would count for much any more!

    Before A.A., alcoholism was seen as an absolutely incurable and only temporarily recoverable ailment. Bu, the first edition of the Big Book holds otherwise; in the doctor’s opinion, which carries over through to the fourth edition, Dr. Silkworth opines that the 100 founding members of A.A. have in fact “recovered.”

    The full name of the first edition of the Big Book is: “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism.” Subsequent editions saw the name change to: “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism.”

    Today most believe that we are always “recovering”, a simple and seemingly reasonable idea, because being “recovered” is tantamount to a cure, but once we achieve abstinence from alcohol, we can in fact fully recover, “return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength” or “regain possession of (something stolen or lost)”, from the effects of alcoholism.

    It is ironic that the first 100 founding members held themselves to be “recovered” in three years or less, the period from the official founding in 1935 through the writing of the first edition completed in 1938, and the majority now disclaims even the possibility!

  19. Simple –

    Recovered means the ‘obsession of the mind has been removed’ as a result of the step !!!!

    I am a recovered alcoholic

  20. I am a grateful recovered alcoholic (sobriety date 9/11/03). When I came into the rooms I found a ‘we’ who had recovered – by finding and pursuing a higher power (God) and seeking His protection with complete abandon; worked the 12 steps with a sponsor who had done the same; and, used meetings to ‘spread this message.

    I strive to be that “we’ to the newcomer today – to present the hope that there is a solution.

    God Bless

  21. Friends: I’ve been continuously sober for almost 29 years (1989) and I was in and out for few years since ’85 as I could not seem to get a clear answer to the inherent contradiction in the statements “you are powerless” followed by the advice of “stay away from the first drink”. It was not until someone kindly explained about the necessity of securing a greater power a HP that it all began to make a bit of sense.

    Around 28 years ago I was sharing at a meeting concerning how my alcoholism was negatively affecting my life. After the meeting,I was asked by an old-timer, if I was still drinking or thinking of drinking. When I defiantly stated that I was over 1 year sober and I was not thinking of drinking he said that what I was suffering was not alcoholism but the ongoing spiritual malady or more appropriately-the human condition. He further stated that this is what the programme was designed to address as being recovered was only for today and contingent on my spiritual condition.Having studied this question for around 30 years I have long since concluded (for me) that Bill Wilson was an educated man and would have clearly knew what suffix of a verb to use: he used the correct recovered as opposed to recovering.If he had wanted to say we are 100 who are recovering, then that is what he would have said. I think the confusion arises from the perception that alcoholism is a three-fold as opposed to a two-fold illness (see page 380 third edition as well as Doctor’s opinion). These sections make it clear that alcoholism is a two-fold illness (mental obsession and physical compulsion). Once the obsession has been removed we are recovered for the day – contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. The difficulty I think lies with people confusing the statement on p64: “for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.” People take this as a statement that spiritual sickness is a core part of alcoholism rather than the conditions that fuel it.

    Spiritual sickness or the ‘malady’ is in fact the human condition, for everyone!While such spiritual sickness is essentially the “causes and conditions” driving our drinking, it is not of itself a core part of alcoholism which is the two-fold mental obsession and physical allergy (compulsion initiated after the first drink). Many people continue to speak of their character defects e.g. resentment, anger, self-pity as a core aspect of their ongoing alcoholism when in fact they are core parts of the human condition. I have heard many people (including myself many years ago) talk about resentments, fears or self-pity as part of their disease of alcoholism which they are still suffering from although they may not have had a drink for many years. However, these issues, character defects, shortcoming or whatever you choose to call the are not in any way shape of form different from those of a non-alcoholic! It’s just that people have conflated these issues with their alcoholism and not simply as the drivers of their behaviours. We drank to suppress such feelings and emotions as we could not deal with them, but they do not disappear when we get sober-that is why we have a programme. It’s only the first step that talks about alcohol – the rest are about us and how we function and cope each day.

    Every human being has these problems,just go to an Al anon meeting and your hear all about the malady of the families although they don’t have the obsession or compulsion -unless they’re alcoholic also.They suffer the consequences of our active alcoholism sometimes even after the person has stopped drinking as they have not yet recovered. Other people have huge resentments and all sorts of sickness prompting them to resort to alcohol, some to drugs, some to gambling and some to none of these things yet they cause havoc in their lives.

    Our resentments, fears etc are not any different for those of the rest of humanity it is only in the way we sought to manage them. If we don’t have the mental obsession, we are recovered from alcoholism, but we’re not immune from the problems of life. We know we are not cured of alcoholism as we will always have bodies that cannot process alcohol but that is academic if we don’t take the first drink. Remember that the main problem with the alcoholic lies in his mind not his body! and that if we fail to maintain our spiritual condition there is the possibility that the obsession will return and we would then activate the compulsion and start the whole cycle over again. That is why we continue with our daily programme and AA meetings-for our Thinking not for our Drinking’.

    The BB makes it clear at several points that the drink problem has been solved P.17, it has been ‘taken away’ P56, ‘disappeared’ P56, ‘has been removed’ P 85.This is clear unequivocal language. When I get the flu and recover it doesn’t make make me immune to getting the flu again but it does relieve me of the symptoms and I do get well, I am recovered until I get the flu again.

    If I maintain my spiritual condition and keep close to the HP, I can remained recovered as well as happy, joyous and free!

    Slainte, from Bonnie Scotland

  22. Words mean something, it is how we communicate. “Recovered” means I am in fit Spiritual Condition enough not to obsess about drinking ever again. It also means I must stay in fit spiritual condition via 10,11, and 12. It is a big book word, not too popular in the Fellowship. The thing about “Recovering” is that it can mean almost anything. It might mean the same thing as I mean when I say “Recovered.” It might mean the speaker is OK with a future of being sick and mentally powerless, settling for a life of mediocrity but sober as long as he goes to lots of meetings. The problem is not the words, but the idea. If your God is not Powerful enough to heal your alcoholic mind, fire His ass and start praying to a God that will transform us to “recovered” status. That All Powerful Idea is found in the first 164 pages of our big book.

  23. 40 years sober; 3 years recovering and 37 years recovered. I draw a distinction between the two by having practiced these principles in all my affairs. I have tried my best to practice the principle at work, in the home, with friends and in the fellowship, some days successfully and some says – not so much. I was taught by my sponsor (RIP) that recovered meant that you have been restored back into society as a fully functioning member (the secondary purpose). Recovered doesn’t mean that our struggles are over, just that we know how to walk through them. It took Bill 1.5 years and Dr Bob 2.5 years. I’m a slow learner. By 1939 our founders had recovered. They presented to society the best sober versions of themselves as they could. I just can’t imagine “recovering” alcoholics writing a 164 page document on how to recover. Dr Bob said in his story “My home life is ideal and my business is as good as can be expected in these uncertain times.” I have had 37 years of an ideal life. I retired from the United States Air Force with meritorious service, and later retired from the Department of Veteran Affairs. I was promoted 12 times more than I was demoted while drinking. I have been married to the same woman (bless her) for 35 years. I still sponsor a handful of young men. Achievements like this can only be accomplished by alcoholics that are both sober and restored back into society. The still drinking alcoholic normally get hired, get drunk, get fired; or get married, get drunk, get divorced; or get sober, quit AA and get drunk. The newly sober alcoholic still struggles, but he has hope and a plan of action. If you’re new, don’t worry about it. It takes time. The good news is there is a path to recovery.

  24. If you are a member of AA, and you work the steps outlined in the first 164 pages of the big book, you will recover! The title page says it all. I won’t quote it, but look at the subtitle on the title page in the big book.

    • The steps are listed in How it Works. Bill W’s ideas influenced by Drs and Psychiatrists are after the 12 Step. Clarence Snyder, on the original 18 recovered alcoholics, says in a tape that you take the first nine steps and then use 10, 11 & 12 as maintenance steps. The result of these steps is a spiritual awakening. Part of the maintenance is practicing these principles in all our affairs.

      In writing How it Works the 12 steps Bill came up with — in essence an expansion of the 6 steps that Ebby gave him — were included in How It Works.

      Alcoholics shared their experience, strength and hope with each other and new members. Taking the steps as they are written in How It Works is the experience shared.

      According to the Forward to the 2nd Edition about 50% of those who came to AA and took those steps never found i necessary to drink again. 25% went out, tried it again and returned and stopped drinking and by taking the 12 steps recovered and never found it necessary tp drink again.

      Using the BB it seems very few don’t seem to make it without experimenting.

  25. I have RECOVERED! And there is no doubt. After 21 years of battling with alcoholism in the middle of the road A.A. groups, and wondering why sobriety was worse than drinking bouts, at times. I even gave up A.A., cause “it did not work”. And I was right, in a way.. Finally, I was either beaten down to a sense of reasonableness, by my alcoholism(and I mean drinking or not), or God put the right events(people, messages, etc) in my life and I awoken to what my problem really was. For all you “recovering” folks out there, please finish your steps(all your steps), apply them to your life, reinvest and truly take a real 3rd step(learn what you are committing to in that step), get on the front lines with our sick fellows, start applying spiritual principles in ALL areas of your life, etc… and watch and see what happens to you. I am not even close to the person that came crawling backing, almost dead and really not caring whether I died or lived. By the grace of God, I have been given freedom to be who want to be, hang around who ever I want and go where ever on earth I choose. Drugs and alcohol, are not even a thing in my mind and carry no weight today in my thoughts. I have been restored to sanity and the Power of God keeps me there, if I stay close to Him and preform His work well. God Bless

  26. Only alcoholics would choose to disagree over petty B/S such as this over being happy, joyous and free!
    However it’s wonderful entertainment from a position of neutrality!

  27. The phrase “ recovered alcoholic” means is that we recover from a “ seemingly hopeless state of mind and body “. As we work the steps and create a relationship with a higher power the obsession to drink is removed. Has nothing to do with being cured or being able to drink again. All the answers to someone struggling with alcoholism are in the big book and can be applied through good sponsorship.

  28. After being sober 30 + years and being taught to LISTEN when I was new, I have been paying a lot of attention to this subject over the years. My sponsor took me through the Big Book and I’ve been blessed with the kind of sobriety the big book( and my sponsor) have told me I would find by following the rules.
    GOD has restored my sanity. GOD has given me the power to help others and GOD has blessed me with a life I could only have dreamed of. If GOD can do all this then why would I think being RECOVERED would not be possible? I don’t question much anymore. The big book tells me numerous times some awesome things. Things like the problem has been removed. I don’t think that leaves any room for words like RECOVERING. GOD has removed the obsession. I really believe the treatment industry needs to enforce the recoverING idea so you are never comfortable in your sobriety and almost makes a return visit imminent. Maybe I am wrong but I have put together some years of happy joyous and free sobriety. What I was taught has worked for me and an awful lot of my fellow-travellers. I also know a lot of people that were recovering sometimes for years and they are no longer with us. Good bad examples. Just my experience. I will get off my soapbox and let you continue on your path. God bless

  29. There is a awesome recovery channel with inductive video teaching on this topic and many other related Big Book topics on YouTube. Search Sobriety Society International. The teaching is called “Recovered vs. Recovering” This guy’s has been in long-term recovery since 11-17-1980 (38) years and has a powerful message of hope.

  30. I call myself a recovered alcoholic, not in the sense of having been cured, but with the meaning of having been salvaged.

  31. Why would anyone want to be recovering? The Big book uses the word RECOVERED 14 times before ‘Bill’s Story’ and then a few times afterwards, including ‘Working With Others’ However, “it’s easy to rest on our laurels, we are headed for trouble if we do….” It is a daily programme, so why not be RECOVERED just for today?

  32. It’s quite simple: we are recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body when the psychic change from a spiritual awakening has taken place through the surrender and conceding to our innermost selfs that we are powerless over alcohol and by the Twelve Steps and the grace Of God the drink problem has been removed. Until the drink problem has been removed we are recovering from alcoholism. We recovering from alcoholism by the work of the first Nine Steps and we stay recovered by living the last Three Steps which are Steps 10, 11 and 12. We can have fun and be happy, joyous and stay set free from alcoholism living the last Three Steps. This is an experience you must not miss out on.

  33. Recovered: ~WE, OF Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. /after having done the first nine steps With the help of the God of my understanding we find this halfway through the 10th step;

    IE: 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. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition. Page 85 BB

  34. Perhaps it would be less controversial to continue to think of our reaction to alcohol as an allergy. We had an allergic reaction and recovered. Without more exposure, we are free from more reaction.

    My happiness (and the quality of my sobriety) is directly proportional to my ability to practice the principles in all my affairs.

  35. I am recovered!!! I no longer suffer from a seemingly hopless state of mind and body! Provided I continue to take certain steps to insure my immunity.
    God could and would if he were sought. I sought, I found, I’m recovered!!!
    I put my sobriety at risk if i decide to take my will back and manage my life again. Because left to my own devices I will not approach a new comer after the meeting and offer him a way out! I dont mean “Hi how are ya” or “welcome, heres my number, keep coming back” No thats not what Gods will is for me. Gods will and direction is very clear. I am to offer the new comer a solution to his illness. A way out! I 12 step him right there on the spot and guarantee him 100% recovery if he is willing to do anything for victory over alchahol and drugs {real alcaholic} I get his number!
    I have become God sufficient and if i dont do exactly what i just said than i have beome God defiant! God is everything or God is nothing! I either allow God to manage me or I manage me!

    So you see I am recovered based on my spiritual condition with my higher power!!!

    If i am obediant to Gods will {“we alcaholics are undisciplined creatures, so we allow God to discipline us”} and follow “clear cut directions” I will never drink or drug again!!! Thank you God, all Glory to God for a miracle has been given me and awaits every person who suffers from addiction!!!

    How do you hide a 100.00 dollar bill on a member of AA?

    You put it in his Big Book and thats not funny because our recovery rate has sunk to 2% or less not to mention people are dying from AA misinformation!!!

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