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Promises Page

A discussion of the Steps' many promises.

The book Alcoholics Anonymous repeatedly states that if you take certain actions you will get certain results. We often refer to these results as “Promises”. Here, in this forum we can discuss the many promises made in Alcoholics Anonymous, beginning with the most famous set of promises, the 9th Step Promises.


The Promises
(properly known as the "9th Step Promises")

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way 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.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 83-84)

Question 1: What about these promises? Sometimes I hear them read at meetings and they sound great. How real are they?

Are these promises real? I have to admit they sounded pretty extravagant to me the first time I heard them. Today I can tell you that they are absolutely real. These things have all come true for me in a way that seems completely natural. All I had to do was follow the steps.
Chris H

The key word is the third to the last word in the promises, Work. This means following the suggestions laid out in "How it Works". Letting go and letting God do his work. Freeing yourself from emotional attachments to outcomes. Learning to step back in things for just one extra moment will help you reawaken the awe and wonderment and joy that you may not have felt since childhood or maybe ever. I like to look at the work part of it using a sports cliché, "Keep Your Head Down and Follow Through" pray and your Higher Power comes into your life. You will change. Besides if you're an alcoholic or any of the other cross-addicted personality types, what have you got to lose besides a world of misery and illusions?
Rick S

For me the promises are very real and all of them have manifested in my life. I hear them read at meetings often. They are basically a promise of spiritual contentment and peace of mind. I certainly have that and much more. It brings to mind the saying "stick around until the miracle happens." I often feel great sadness when I think about those people who get a taste of recovery through the twelve step process and then quit. They will never have what I have.
John N

Basically we lose our fear, particularly of feeling "less than". We learn to quit looking over our shoulder because the fog is lifting and we become more cognizant of the here and now. We learn to have courage to walk through old fears when they pop up or when we feel like it's time to try new positive things in our lives. Only part of it is personal courage though, the rest is the support we receive through our associations in and with the program. Where once we spent nights drinking, now there suddenly seems to be time to go back to school, duh! There's money for the light bill because it wasn't spent on crack. Your children are happier because a parent made it to a recital instead of thinking of himself. You just plain start to feel better about yourself and the future; and that my friend is freedom. We start to mature, we become calmer and more comfortable with ourselves and others. And on and on.
Richard S

Question 2: “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” How can that be true? There is so much that I regret, so many things I have done wrong. There are so many good things too, things that I have lost and find so painful to think about. Being able to shut the door on the past seems like the best thing I can hope for.

You know, I didn’t think this promise could possibly come true either. With my drinking and drugging I had managed to blot out most of the loss and shame that I had built up but working the first step, understanding that my life was truly unmanageable, made me face all that pain. The fourth step made me understand that much of that loss and pain was my own fault. How could I live with that, except by trying to forget it? I can’t explain how the process works but it does work. I think it has much to do with the gift of forgiveness. As I work the steps I realize that God has forgiven me for all that I have done and I become able to forgive those who have wronged me. Without all this resentment and self-loathing I am able to look back on the past with love and understanding.
Chris H

Working the steps and living a life of recovery have brought me to a place where I am very comfortable with myself. I am far from perfect but I realize that I am a work in progress and am really trying to move in the right direction. Now that I like who I am I can look back on who I was and understand that was all part of the process of getting to where I am today.
Dan F

My personal experience is as follows: As a person learns to live and grow in their spiritual life, and build their relationship with their Higher Power, they will after some time or at a cross road find that their loving "Higher Power" has been with them all along. The actions that we wish to label bad or wrong were simply a point in our life where we relied on our own power (i.e. ego) and therefore we mislead ourselves. I always have found that when I examine my past with the help of my Higher Power, the fourth step and a willingness to look at my part in the situation that there was and is a very valuable lesson to me learned. Today with the help of my Higher Power and the fourth step I can hold my head high. I have been freed from my past. This is much different from ignoring or shutting the door on it. As I proceed from this place of true freedom I am always given from my Higher Power many gifts and blessings that always increase in value and frequency. But one of the most valuable gifts that I have been given is the gift of experience that allows me to relate to other people in need (especially other alcoholics) and that they in turn can see the awesome power of our "Higher Power" at work in and through our examples of recovery. That gift of being able to help another person is invaluable.
Jim H


Question 3: You say the 9th Step promises are the most famous - what are some of the other promises?

Thank you for the question. Follow the links below to explore some of the many other promises made to those willing to follow the twelve steps.

3rd Step Promises

5th Step Promises

11th Step Promises

4th Step Promises

10th Step Promises

12th Step Promises

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