The Rewards of Recovery
The AA promises are found on pages 83-84 of Chapter 6, “Into Action” in Alcoholics Anonymous, written by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob. The 12 promises of AA are presented as part of working Step 9, which involves making amends.
The 9th step promises are read out loud at the end of AA meetings, usually before the closing prayer.1
What Are the 12 Promises of AA?
The 12 promises of AA are as follows:
- If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.
- 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, and 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 upon life will change.
- Fear of people and of 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.
Interpreting the Promises
The AA promises provide inspiration and something to look forward to in sobriety, especially for struggling newcomers.
The 12 promises of AA are positive changes that generally begin to happen in the recovering alcoholic’s life while working the 9th step, which states: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”2
Generally speaking, the AA promises refer to shifts in attitude and perception such as:
- Feelings of freedom and happiness.
- Gaining a deeper perspective.
- Renewed purpose or direction in life.
- Acceptance of self and others.
- Hope and faith.
- Less fear and/or financial worry.
- Redemption from past actions.
The AA promises provide inspiration and something to look forward to in sobriety, especially for struggling newcomers. Part of the AA program involves getting a sponsor or another mature member to guide you through the 12 steps.
The Big Book mentions that the 12 promises are “Being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.”1 Some AA members report that they experience the promises early on, while others experience them gradually. Because everyone’s experience is unique, the 9th step promises can occur in different ways and at different times.
According to the Big Book, the 12 promises of AA “Materialize if we work for them.”1 Through earnest effort, the promises can hold true.
. Wilson, B. (2001). Alcoholics Anonymous (4th ed.). New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.