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AA Promises: Why Are They Important In Addiction Recovery?

Last Updated: February 3, 2022

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Alcoholics Anonymous, also referred to as AA, was primarily founded to aid those battling alcoholism and help people keep sobriety. The AA was founded by Bill W. and Bob Smith in 1935 and proposed to help individuals in recovery achieve sobriety and experience a new life without the shackles of alcoholism. Both founders also authored the “12 steps in Alcoholics Anonymous” in 1939, which featured the promises of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA promises are part of the individual’s complete dedication to recovery during the program. The 12 promises of AA are based on the 12-steps of alcohol recovery consisting of principles designed for followers to work towards.

So, what are the AA promises in the big book, and what issues do they address?

What are the 12 Promises of AA?

The 12 promises of AA were first coined in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous,” also referred to as the big book, within pages 83 to 84 of Chapter 6. The promises of AA are part of the affirmations of step 9. This part of the Big Book is associated with making positive changes and amends in one’s life. In addition, the book narrates how over one hundred men who were alcoholics recovered from their addiction.

Here are the 12 Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous:

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

What Do AL-Anon Promises Mean?

AA promises are recited in a fellowship with peers or family and friends who are also significantly impacted by the disturbing experiences faced when a loved one struggles with alcohol addiction. The 12 promises of AA are incorporated to strengthen the individual’s resolve for recovery and create a connection between the needs of the alcoholic and family members. These AA commitments, when recited often, become beliefs and then become practices. The biggest advancement of Al-Anon is its evolution to include family members into the program to enable them to recover faster through bonding and renewal of relationships. Al-anon initiation is the most significant reason for stressors such as poor relationships, financial problems, legal problems, health issues, and more. The AA promises in the Big Book enable the alcoholic to embrace profound principles that unburdens them from the general effects of alcoholism and their triggers.

Al-Anon Promises in the Book Offer the Following Meaning:

#1 We Are Going to Know a New Freedom and a New Happiness

The 1st of the AA promises to assure a life free from alcohol addiction, a life where the individual’s happiness no longer depends on the use of alcohol.

#2 We Will Not Regret the Past nor Wish to Shut the Door on It

There is a lot to be learned from the past experience despite the unpleasantness. The memory should not breed regret but serve as difficulties surpassed and battles won to find a new life.

#3 We Will Comprehend the Word Serenity

Addiction is extremely irritating to the mind. The constant mental turmoil and instability the patient experiences can keep them in a state of unrest. The Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and the oath of AA reassure the Patient and offer a calmness that is usually rare without the use of alcohol.

#4 We will Know Peace

Peace and tranquility are both rewards of consistency with the Alcoholics Anonymous program. The experience is new, and peace will find anyone who lives by the Al-anon promises.

#5 No Matter How Far Down the Scale We Have Gone, We Will See How Our Experience Can Benefit Others

Many times our experiences are not ours alone. Many people are on the same track with no guidance and cannot find peace. The promises AA offers is that individuals going through alcohol addiction will learn from the experience and reflections of those who are in recovery.

#6 That Feeling of Uselessness and Self-Pity Will Disappear

Those who have been through severe alcohol addiction are no strangers to the feeling of hopelessness and self-disgust because of their actions and choices. The promises AA offers in the book state that those who participate will find their path and discover true meaning in their lives.

#7 We Will Lose Interest in Selfish Things and Gain Interest in Our Fellows

Addiction drives a person into self-centered actions, which typically affects family and friends in various proportions. Developing interest in other people and bridging communication gaps is essential to recovery. The AA promises in the big book focus on building and sustaining genuine interest in people and activities that are helpful to recovery.

#8 Self-Seeking Will Slip Away

A lot is overlooked when one is focused on their addictions. There is usually no space for other people in one’s life. AA promises slowly shred the habit of self-centeredness.

#9 Our Whole Attitude and Outlook Upon Life Will Change

Alcoholics Anonymous promises to take away the feeling of regret and introduce a new perspective and a positive attitude towards life.

#10 Fear of People and of Economic Insecurity Will Leave Us

Often people use substances to hide away from dealing with certain problems in their lives until addiction becomes the main problem. AA commitments to help one attain a level of physical and mental clarity that enables them to responsibly face the world and succeed.

#11 We Will Intuitively Know How to Handle Situations Which Used to Baffle Us

When made in meetings, these AA promises ultimately clear up mental clutters and improve decision-making abilities in the right direction.

#12 We Will Suddenly Realize That God Is Doing for Us What We Could Not Do for Ourselves

AA promises emphasize that higher powers are taking control of our lives and showing a path for anyone to follow. The aspect of “God” does not necessarily point to the Christian version; rather, it can mean any deity, element, and even the universe in its wholesome divinity. When “God” as a spiritual being takes charge, there will be absolute peace by our acceptance.

How Do AA Promises Work?

Addiction recovery isn’t just physical; it is a complete overhaul of human behavior, mentality, habits, thought process, actions, words, relationships, and others. This change is brought about by imbibing consciousness and a change in attitude.

Why are They so Important?

Recovery from alcoholism requires a shift from what exists to what is obtainable. The Alcoholics Anonymous promises in the big book offer a fighting chance against self-pity, regret, fear, self-seeking, and feeling of uselessness, and then turn these negative emotions into inner peace, happiness, freedom, serenity, and the ability to grow meaningful relationships.

Find the Path to Recovery with the Help of Alcoholics Anonymous

Many people struggling with alcoholism and other underlying problems have been unable to find help due to the fear of stigmatization, losing their jobs, and other possibilities that may come with seeking help. However, Al-anon promises, and meetings have helped a large population of alcohol users to find their path to sustained recovery by attending meetings for substance use disorder. Don’t hesitate to contact them.

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Page Sources

  1. "Al-Anon ." Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior. Retrieved from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/al-anon
  2. Timko, C., Cronkite, R., Kaskutas, L. A., Laudet, A., Roth, J., & Moos, R. H. (2013). Al-Anon family groups: newcomers and members. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs, 74(6), 965–976. https://doi.org/10.15288/jsad.2013.74.965

Published on: February 3rd, 2022

Updated on: February 3rd, 2022

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.