Fine Acronym AA: Common AA Slogans and Acronyms

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : October 08, 
| 3 Sources

The Serenity Prayer

AA slogans, acronyms and AA serenity prayer
Essential elements of the AA 12-step program

Alcoholics Anonymous has started an oral tradition for helping people to change their relation to their addictions and their own freedom basically, teaching that is accomplished through practice instead of through ideas, like their fine acronym AA, among others. AA is self-supporting, multiracial, nonprofessional, apolitical worldwide fellowship, and it is available almost everywhere. When someone attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for the first time, one of the things that can stand out is the use of slogans and acronyms. There are a multitude of slogans and acronyms used by AA members worldwide.  

Not all meetings use the same slogans and acronyms, and some may use the same ones repeatedly. After being exposed to them, they should start to click. If they don’t, or you have a hard time remembering things, no worries! Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of what something means.

The common AA slogans, which were simply passed along to other members, and acronyms can be found in AA meetings, chat rooms, AA meetings that take place online, and in alcoholism forums. Below you can find those slogans that are in common usage among many English-speaking AA groups.

What is the Purpose of AA Slogans and Acronyms?

Alcoholics Anonymous might be well known to most people in the United States. That said, Twelve Step meetings exist all around the world! In nearly every region of every country, you’ll find alcoholics gathering together to share their strength and hope with one another.

The language, of course, varies, and the types of phrases and slogans are as unique as the members themselves. However, the same definitely cannot be said of the slogans they use and the ins and outs of their all-important serenity prayer.

Many people outside the program of AA might find these sayings cheesy or silly, however for those who use them regularly they have a deeper meaning. Slogans and acronyms can inspire those who attend meetings and can help create a sense of unity.

Slogans and acronyms help to give encouragement to people in their battle against alcoholism. The repetition helps people remember. It provides a sense of grounding and comfort. It makes the thought process more habitual.

By using these AA slogans, everyone involved in AA feels that they belong and this togetherness helps them greatly in the rehabilitation process. Addiction thrives on isolation.

Common Elements of AA Slogans and Acronyms

After looking at some of the slogans, it may become obvious to you that there are themes present throughout them.

· The first is a belief in God, or a higher power, to help you.

· These slogans also emphasize how important it is to take the first step and stay in the moment.

· AA slogans motivate you to constantly hang in there and not let your efforts go to waste.

These 3 things are actually very much in line with AA’s fundamental principles.

Common AA Slogans

There are, of course, many, many AA slogans in use among Alcoholics Anonymous members. A simple google search will produce a long list that you can review. We will look at some of the more common ones, and the meanings behind them.

As mentioned above, some meetings have favorite slogans that are used more than others. You would likely catch onto this after attending a few meetings.

· One Day at A Time: This may be a simpler slogan to understand. One of the most common triggers for an alcoholic is stress and/or worry. This can often come when thinking about the future and the challenges that may or will likely come. This slogan encourages us to stay in the present moment, and avoid jumping into the future. This mindset can be found in Mindfulness, which is also a common encouragement for alcoholics.

· Easy Does It: Another simple slogan. This saying is meant to remind us not to stress ourselves out. Learning to catch ourselves before our stress snowballs into something more difficult to cope with.

· First Things First: Similar to the previous two slogans, this is meant to remind us that focusing our energy on the present task can help us get to the next. We cannot skip steps, and things happen in a progression. It basically refers to staying sober (not drinking alcohol no matter what).

· Let Go and Let God: This can be a tricky slogan for those who struggle with the use of God throughout the Big Book and Alcoholics Anonymous. The first part of this slogan is to remind us that we cannot control everything. With that being said, there are some situations where this slogan would be inappropriate. The second portion, “let god” is again about recognizing that you do not have control of everything, and that there is something more powerful than you out there.

· Progress, Not Perfection: This slogan is common outside of AA, so you may already be familiar with the concept. In recovery, there is bound to be some bumps in the road. Recovery is not about being perfect, and expecting yourself to be perfect is setting yourself up for a relapse. Working to recognize the progress you have made can be a challenging concept as we are so quick to criticize ourselves.

· But for the Grace of God: This slogan serves as a reminder that things can usually be worse. When we feel that things are horrible and challenging, it can be humbling to recognize that you are fortunate in some ways.

· You are Not Responsible for Your Addiction, But You are Responsible for Your Behavior: The concept behind this slogan works to recognize that your addiction is a disease with environmental and biological factors that you have no control over. For example, we have little impact on the environment we are raised in, and we cannot do anything to change a familial tie with addiction. With that being said, having an addiction is not a “cop out” for poor behavior. Taking accountability for ourselves and actions is a key component of a healthy recovery.

Common AA Acronyms

Another common slogan in AA is “keep it simple”. To align with this, it is common for AA members to use acronyms for common sayings. Below you will find some common acronyms and their meanings.

  • HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired): These are common vulnerabilities that can make an alcoholic more likely to struggle and or relapse. If you recognize that any of these relate to you when you are triggered, take the time to address that and then return to the issue at hand. 
  • SLIP (Sobriety Losing Its Priority): This is to serve as a reminder that when recovery is no longer a person’s focus, they are more likely to “slip” or relapse. 
  • KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid): This acronym is to serve as a reminder to not complicate things if they don’t need to be complicated. Over complicating things can lead to unnecessary stress and worry. 
  • GOD (Good, Orderly Direction): For those who have a hard time with God used throughout the AA material, this acronym can be a useful way to look at it. This is referring to a higher power, which does not have to be tied to a religion.
  • EGO (Easing God Out): This acronym is referring to when a person who is not as close or connected to their higher power, and how they are inching closer to a relapse.
  • HIT (Hang In There): This acronym is meant to serve as encouragement when the road to sobriety is hard. There will undoubtedly be challenges, but that is where your growth happens.

The AA Serenity Prayer

The AA serenity prayer is one of the most famous sayings associated with AA. In fact, it’s so famous that people outside of AA often know and memorize it. It’s a prayer that indicates balance and peace and acceptance - all of which are essential tenants to living a content and joyful life.

The AA serenity prayer is a few simple verses that are recited before nearly all formal AA meetings. It signifies the members’ faiths in their principles and beliefs.

The AA serenity prayer was written by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, a well-known theologian who served for many years as Dean and Professor of Applied Christianity at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

In 1942, a New York member, Jack, brought to everyone's attention a caption in a routine New York Herald Tribune obituary that presented those same words.

Upon reading them, members of the blossoming AA community were awestruck by the power and wisdom carried by those few words.

Since then, the AA serenity prayer has played a huge part in Alcoholics Anonymous’ history and legacy.

The AA serenity prayer reads:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference."

Do bear in mind though that although this is possibly the most popular version of the AA serenity prayer, it is by no means the only one. It just happens to be the most famous one.

Different variations have sprung forth over time, and it is usually up to the specific group to recite their preferred version.

This is also a much longer version of the full prayer, which is 3 to 4 times longer.

Nonetheless, neither of these facts takes away the significance these few lines play in AA’s legacy.

There is never a point in a person’s addiction when it is too late to begin your recovery. If you are wondering if you are an alcoholic, chances are that there is something concerning about your drinking behaviors. Educate yourself and ask for help!

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


Alcoholics Anonymous. What is AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous Cleveland. History of AA Slogans.

Research Gate. One Day At A Time’ and other slogans for everyday life: the ethical practices of Alcoholics Anonymous. May 1999.

NCBI. “First Things First”: What is the First Thing?. April 20, 2016.

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