Alcoholics Anonymous has been developed an oral tradition for helping people alter their relation to their own desires and freedom fundamentally, teaching that’s accomplished through practice instead of through ideas.
Attending your first Alcoholics Anonymous can be an intimidating experience. Many find that not being familiar with the commonly used slogans and acronyms can make it challenging to follow the discussion. There are many slogans and acronyms that you can come across at an AA meeting.
Not all meetings use the same slogans and acronyms, and some may use the same ones repeatedly. However, if you find that you are still struggling with it, that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of what something means.
Slogans and acronyms will be used in AA meetings, chat rooms, AA meetings that take place online, and in alcoholism forums. As you continue reading this page, you will see some of the common slogans use in AA meetings.
Alcoholics Anonymous is widely known across the United States, however there is a significant AA Community around the world. In nearly every country you are able to find an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting.
The language will be different depending on what country you are in, and naturally the slogans and acronyms used will vary. One constant would be the Serenity Prayer though.
Individuals who are not members of AA may find these sayings cheesy or silly, however for those who use them regularly they have a deeper meaning. Slogans and acronyms can help provide encouragement for alcoholics.
Slogans and acronyms help to give encouragement to people in their recovery journey. The slogans remind the participants to remember their priorities; to maintain a focus on prioritizing recovery so that the potentials of success are not reduced; to do the next right thing; or to just not drink alcohol.
Addiction grows with isolation, so the repetition present in AA meetings helps pull an individual out of the isolation cycle they may be in. These are things that they may be missing in their life.
Common Elements of AA Slogans and Acronyms
There are many AA slogans used, and after being exposed to them it is possible that you pick up on themes used throughout many of them.
· The use of a Higher Power
· The use of Mindfulness
· Providing encouragement to individuals who may be struggling
These three core values can be found throughout the Alcoholics Anonymous literature and program.
Common AA Slogans
As previously mentioned, there are many slogans used in AA by its members. Members have always wondered about the roots of various slogans, and it’s always been hard to narrow down. An internet search will find lists that you can use as reference. This page will look at some of the common slogans and acronyms used.
As previously mentioned, meetings can gravitate towards particular aa slogans and acronyms. This should become apparent over time.
· One Day at A Time: This may be a simpler slogan to understand. Anxiety, stress and worry are common relapse triggers for alcoholics. It is human nature to worry about the past, however, when we become too focused on the future we lose touch with the present which can be problematic. This slogan serves as a reminder to check our anxieties and worries and remember to focus on the day at hand. Mindfulness is a common approach recommended for alcoholics.
· Easy Does It: Another simple slogan. This slogan helps us to gain perspective, and see if we are stressing ourselves out when it is unnecessary. Working to better understand your patterns of frustration can help us learn to cope in a healthier manner.
· 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. This slogan relates to the message above for “One Day at a Time”.
· 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. We start by looking at the limitations in our control. Naturally, there will be exceptions to this. The second portion of the saying serves as a reminder of your higher power, and that there are other forces that contribute to events.
· Progress, Not Perfection: This slogan is common outside of AA, so you may already be familiar with the concept. As with life, it is normal to experience challenges in recovery. Expecting ourselves to be perfect is internally putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, which can ultimately lead to distress if we make a mistake.
· But for the Grace of God: This slogan serves as a reminder that things can usually be worse. When we find ourselves in the thick of it, thinking it’s impossible to move forward, trying to remember the positive things in your life can be humbling.
· 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 we cannot control. An example of this would be recognizing that we had little control over the environment we were raised in and any family history with addiction. However, it is important to take accountability for yourself when appropriate.
Common AA Acronyms
“Keep it simple” is an approach commonly found in AA literature. With that mindset being used, you will also find that acronyms used often. Here is a list of some acronyms you will likely come across:
· HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired): These are common vulnerabilities that can make an alcoholic more likely to struggle and or relapse. If you find yourself frustrated or upset, take time to look at these vulnerabilities. If any of them are present, see what you can do to remedy it, then go back to the initial concern.
· 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. Being in recovery is hard enough as it is, no need to add more to your plate.
· 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 one way of looking at a higher power that does not involve any religious beliefs.
· 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. As with anything worth having, there will be challenges. Many find that it is in our challenges.
The AA Serenity Prayer
The serenity prayer is one of more known sayings used in AA meetings. What some may find surprising is that the prayer is also used by individuals not associated with Alcoholics Anonymous. The prayer resonates with a mindfulness approach. Mindfulness can be helpful for anyone who struggles with worry or anxiety.
Many AA meetings being with the Serenity Prayer. This usually done in a group and each member participates.
The AA serenity prayer reads:
It is important to note that there are many different versions of the Serenity Prayer. The example above is the one most commonly used in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
There are some groups that have a preference to a different version of the prayer. And that is totally okay. In all the versions of the prayer, the overall message remains the same which is the important piece.
There is never a point in a person’s addiction when it is too late to begin your recovery. Many individuals feel alone in their addiction, and worry that no one will be able to understand them and their experiences. Addiction involves isolation, so by attending an AA meeting you are making an active choice to push back against your addiction. Take that step, make connections with individuals who have a healthy recovery and learn from their experiences. Remember that there is no “cookie cutter” recovery, and that much like you past is unique, your recovery will be as well.
Unlike a few of Al‑Anon’s methods and principles that take some time to learn and apply, their slogans are easier to learn and remember. In fact, you might have already heard some of these slogans a lot of times before without taking them seriously or attempting to put them to work. Although they are clichés, it is their simplicity that actually makes them so effective and powerful.
If you are wondering if you are an alcoholic, know that you are not alone. Having concerns with your drinking does not necessarily mean that you are an alcoholic. It just means that you are recognizing that something could be different. Educate yourself and ask for help!
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