In our drinking days, we
often had such bad times that we swore, "Never again." We took
pledges for as long as a year, or promised someone we would not touch the
stuff for three weeks, or three months. And of course, we tried going on
the wagon for various periods of time. We were absolutely sincere when we
voiced these declarations through gritted teeth. With all our hearts, we
wanted never to be drunk again. We were determined. We swore off drinking
altogether, intending to stay off alcohol well into some indefinite
Yet, in spite of our intentions, the outcome was almost inevitably the
same. Eventually, the memory of the vows and of the suffering that led to
them, faded. We drank again, and we wound up in more trouble. Our dry
"forever" had not lasted very long.
Some of us who took such
pledges had a private reservation: We told ourselves that the promise not
to drink applied only to the "hard stuff," not to beer or wine.
In that way we learned, if we did not already know it, that beer and wine
could get us drunk, too--we just had to drink more of them to get the same
effects we got on distilled spirits. We wound up as stoned on beer or wine
as we had been before on the hard stuff.
Yes, others of us did give
up alcohol completely and did keep our pledges exactly as promised, until
the time was up. . . . Then we ended the drought by drinking again, and
were soon right back in trouble, with an additional load of new guilt and
With such struggles behind
us now, in A.A. we try to avoid the expressions "on the wagon"
and "taking the pledge." They remind us of our failures.
Although we realize that alcoholism is a permanent, irreversible
condition, our experience has taught us to make no long-term promises
about staying sober. We have found it more realistic--and more
successful--to say, "I am not taking a drink JUST FOR TODAY."
Even if we drank yesterday, we can plan not to drink today. We may drink
tomorrow--who knows whether we'll even be alive then?--but for THIS 24
hours, we decide not to drink. No matter what the temptation or
provocation, we determine to go to any extremes necessary to avoid a drink
Our friends and families
are understandably weary of hearing us vow, "This time I really mean
it," only to see us lurch home loaded. So we do not promise them, or
even each other, not to drink. Each of us promises only herself or
himself. It is, after all, our own health and life at stake. We, not our
family or friends, have to take the necessary steps to stay well. If the
desire to drink is really strong, many of us chop the 24 hours down into
smaller parts. We decide not to drink for, say, at least one hour. We can
endure the temporary discomfort of not drinking for just one more hour;
then one more, and so on. Many of us began our recovery in just this way.
In fact, EVERY RECOVERY
FROM ALCOHOLISM BEGAN WITH ONE SOBER HOUR.
One version of this is
simply postponing the (next) drink. (How about it? Still sipping soda?
Have you really postponed that drink we mentioned back on page 1? If so,
this can be the beginning of your recovery.) The next drink will be
available later, but right now, we postpone taking it at least for the
present day, or moment. (Say, for the rest of this page?) The 24-hour plan
is very flexible. We can start it afresh at any time, wherever we are. At
home, at work, in a bar or in a hospital room, at 4:00 p.m. or at 3:00
a.m., we can decide right then not to take a drink during the forthcoming
24 hours, or five minutes. Continually renewed, this plan avoids the
weakness of such methods as going on the wagon or taking a pledge. A
period on the wagon and a pledge both eventually came, as planned, to an
end--so we felt free to drink again.
But today is always here.
Life IS daily; today is all we have; and anybody can go one day without
drinking. First, we try living in the now just in order to stay sober--and
it works. Once the idea has become a part of our thinking, we find that
living life in 24-hour segments is an effective and satisfying way to
handle many other matters as well.
Taken from the book
(A.A. General Service
© Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Office