In AAA, an addict is someone whose use of a substance or behavior has become harmful — habitual — and compulsive. Addiction is a degree of abuse; the addict simply has a habit he or she can’t break — compulsion has become irresistible.

A very simple definition will tell you if you are an addict: If you are using a substance or behavior harmfully, and if you can’t stop and stay stopped, even when you seriously want to, you are an addict.

Basically, there are two kinds of addicts: substance addicts and mental addicts. Substance addicts include those who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, food, nicotine, and other substances. Mental addicts include those who are addicted to anxiety, depression, gambling, sex, and other hangups. The AAA Program can be lived and worked by any addict. The fellowship is open to all members — regardless of their addictions.

One formula, and no other, produces sustained and lasting freedom from addiction: abstinence + spiritual awakening = recovery. Abstinence is the indispensable key to recovery, and spiritual awakening is the indispensable condition of sustained abstinence. When a spiritual awakening occurs, recovery follows. In the absence of spiritual awakening, nothing changes.

You start a recovery where you are — now — today — right in your present circumstances. Stay away from the first drink or drug or whatever one day at a time. With the help of God, you’ll find that you can do it. In order to maintain a recovery, you must continue working the Program, one day at a time. Living according to the Program, you will find that your circumstances will change. Let the changes come. Hang on to the truth, trust God, and allow your life to be changed. Keep in touch with other people who are living this way, and learn from them. Study the literature of the way to God, and learn from it. One day at a time, do what the Program tells you to do. Hang on to total abstinence. Practice the principles in all your affairs, as well as you can — without lying to yourself, without cutting corners, without copping out. As time goes on, you will see a very great change, a wonderful and revolutionary change, taking place in your life and in your surroundings.

If you will simply practice the Program, in the simplest possible way, by going to two or three meetings a week, and by practicing the principles in all your affairs, the chances of recovery are very good. In the meetings, you will hear the stories of other addicts who have recovered, and you will learn how to practice the Program, and to enjoy it. The AAA way of life moves you from reliance on self-will — which is never equal to the task of beating addiction — to reliance on a Higher Power. It encourages you to face, and make amends for, past wrongs. It sends you right out joyfully carrying this life-saving message to your brother and sister addicts and gets you beginning to feel like a real human being again. And it works. It produces freedom from addiction in just about everyone who really tries it. The odds really are that good.

Group work is essential to recovery. When you join a group you make a commitment; you give yourself a firm base in the principles of recovery; and you put yourself in line to serve and be helpful as no mere visitor to a group’s meetings ever can be. This seemingly simple action puts you in a real working relationship with the other members of the group, and it is in such a relationship that the Program is most easily and effectively practiced.

It is not always easy to locate a group — especially, a group that is really committed to living the principles, instead of just talking about them. But it is always possible to find and join such a group (or to found one if necessary), and it may be easier to do so now than ever before. When you do find such a group, join it and attend its meetings regularly, two or three a week.

A sponsor is simply someone who is ahead of you on the road to recovery, who will actually work directly and responsibly with you on your Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Step inventory, your Eighth and Ninth Step amends, your Third and Eleventh Step prayer time, and your getting into Twelfth Step work, where you begin to carry the message to others — one of the most important and enjoyable parts of the Program. A sponsor can also give you the necessary challenge, encouragement, and support you will need as you learn how to live the AAA way of life.

To get a sponsor, find a member of the group who has been successfully and joyfully living the principles of the AAA way of life, and ask that person to be your sponsor.

All Addicts Anonymous is a non-professional, self-supporting, God-centered and truth-centered fellowship that has found a way to extend the original Program of Alcoholics Anonymous effectively to any and all addicts.

There are no requirements for All Addicts Anonymous membership. Anyone may join, or resign, at any time. There are no requirements for groups. Run your group any way you want to. The requirements for success on the Program are completely summed up in the Four Absolutes, the Twelve Steps, and the Ten Points. To succeed in the All Addicts Anonymous way of life, this is what you should do: 1. Go to meetings. 2. Learn the Four Absolutes, the Twelve Steps, and the Ten Points. 3. Practice these principles in all your affairs. Do this, in your own way, in your own time — but do it — and your chances of permanent, lifelong recovery are very high — pressing 100%.

In AAA we accept and honor all of the Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, and try to practice them in all of our affairs right along with the principles of the Program. To be clear, All Addicts Anonymous is non-religious, non-professional, non-financial, non-expert, non-academic, non-political, non-organizational, non-controversial, non-promotional, non-proselytizing. We have no bosses or big-shots, only fellow-sufferers. We have no professionals whose job it is to diagnose or treat others. We have no big buildings, no real estate, no stocks and bonds to get in the way of the helping work. And we have no social, financial, religious, gender, or racial requirements or limitations.

God is the answer. But a true, life-changing reunion with God is not always easy — especially if you start from a position of disaffection, disinterest, or total confusion on the subject of God, as most addicts do.

AAA exists to help damaged and defeated men and women to bridge the critical gap between despair and hope, between unmanageability and sanity, between self-centered living and God-centered living.

The entire emphasis of AAA is on living according to spiritual principles. Although our Program is spiritual and our reliance is on the grace of God, we are not limited to any religion or any denomination. In the light of the Steps, we are seeking to do the will of God as we understand him, whatever our individual understandings may be. This approach opens the door for people of all religious backgrounds or none, for people who are practicing religion, and for people who are presently alienated from all formal religion.

If you are currently participating in a religious faith and are feeling nervous that we may say something that violates your tradition, you really don’t have to be. In AAA, you can practice your own religion, whatever it is, and still work the Program; in fact if you do not work the Program, your religion, whatever it is, may never be anything more than a formality or a habit. The Program is about God, and there is no way around that, but it is concerned with God practically, and your religious or philosophical baggage does not have to be an obstacle, if you keep an open mind.

Surprisingly, agnosticism or atheism is no great handicap either, just as being a “believer” offers no special advantage. In both cases the same thing is needed: a willingness to let go of old ideas.

Those who come to AAA looking for help are not necessarily asked to abandon their views on God. You are merely asked to approach the spiritual principles embodied in the Program with an open mind. This willingness is particularly essential for those in serious life trouble, because you simply have not got the time or energy to waste. Some preliminary sweat is required, but fortunately only the minimum necessary to make the experiment. All it takes is real need – and a really open mind.