Alcoholics Anonymous Prayer and Slogans

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : April 19, 
2021 
| 7 Sources

The Serenity Prayer

Essential elements of the AA 12-step program

Research has shown that 90 million men and 5.5 million women struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder in the United States alone. Globally, alcoholism is a major health concern.

Many people who are struggling with alcohol addiction, choose to take part in AA, where they are exposed to the Alcoholics Anonymous prayers as well as many slogans. Research has shown that individuals who are actively involved in Alcoholics Anonymous have a stronger chance of reducing their drinking. 

There are a multitude of slogans and acronyms used by AA members worldwide.

Many of the slogans and acronyms have been learned by word of mouth. This can make finding their origin challenging. Many can be traced back to Bill W. in the 1930’s.

You come across them in....

Below you can find those slogans that are in common usage among many English-speaking AA groups.

Common AA Slogans

Some individuals who attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings find themselves overwhelmed the variety of slogans used. We will look at some of the more common ones, and the meanings behind them.

  • “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. The 12 Steps are done in order, 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.

Examples of other common slogans include:

· Easy does it

· First things first

· Live and let live

· But for the grace of god

· Let go and let god

· This too shall pass

· Keep coming back..........it works if you work it

· Stick with the winners

· Sobriety is a journey ..........not a destination

· Faith without works is dead

· If god seems far away, who moved?

· Turn it over

· We are only as sick as our secrets

· There are no coincidences in AA

· Be part of the solution, not the problem

· I can't handle it God, you take over

· One hour at a time..

· One day at a time..

· One step at a time

· Wonderful things happen..

· Keep an open mind

· Willingness is the key

· More will be revealed

· Principles before personalities

· Misery is optional

· One drink is too many, and a thousand is not enough

· Cultivate an attitude of gratitude 

· Thy will be done

· You will intuitively know

· Don't quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens

· Some of us our sicker than others

· Alcoholism is an equal opportunity destroyer

· Stick with the winners

· Practice an attitude of gratitude

· God doesn’t make junk

· HALT: don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely, tired

· The road to sobriety is a simple journey for confused people with a complicated disease

· God is never late

· Have a good day unless of course u have made other plans

· SLIP: Sobriety Lost Its Priority

· Progress, not perfection

· Call your sponsor

· I was sick and tired of being sick and tired

· Nothing changes if nothing changes

· 90 meetings in 90 days.........90/90

· I can have complete serenity at this very moment...if I live in denial

· We came to AA to save our ass, and found out our soul was attached

· It's alcohol-ISM, not alcohol-WASM!

· I can only carry the message, I can't carry the drunk!

· Seven missed meetings makes one weak

· and my personal favorite....... Don't take everything personally

There are, of course, many more AA slogans in use among Alcoholics Anonymous members.

Individual groups have their own favorites or even coin their own slogans. Depending on the location of the AA meeting, different members will use different dialogue to share their struggles or successes.

Why does AA use these Slogans?

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.

Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA for short, uses a large number of rather catchy slogans in the process of their program.

Many people outside the program of AA might find these sayings banal and rather folksy. If you’re not involved in the program, you might not understand their meaning and significance.

Yet, these slogans not only inspire those participating but also serve to create a sense of belonging and togetherness. They can also provide insight into coping with challenges.

The purpose of AA slogans is largely to help those struggling with addiction. This can occur in many ways. 

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

When you first attend an AA meeting, you will be struck by the amount of times such slogans are mentioned. It might even seem redundant! 

Also, if you take a look around the room/hall where the meeting is taking place you will see such slogans plastered all over the place.

The reason being 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.

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

One thing is clear to us just by looking at the above list. AA slogans very much place a great emphasis on 3 things:

  • The first is a belief in God to help you.
  • These slogans also emphasize how important it is to take the first step and know that it is the correct one.
  • 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.

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, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,...

...courage to change the things which should be changed,...

...and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

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.

If you found this page helpful, then the following may be of interest to you:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous gifts
  • Alcoholics Anonymous books
  • AA Chat Rooms
  • Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps
  • Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings
  • Alcoholics Anonymous Online Meetings
  • Alanon meeting online
  • The History of Alcoholics Anonymous


Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


Hello!

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



Sources: 

Facts and statistics about alcohol use in the United States provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol Facts and Statistics | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)

Published research article provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism regarding the benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings: Alcohol Health and Research World Volume 18 Number 4 1994 Advances in Alcoholism Treatment (nih.gov)

Common recovery slogans in 12 step programs: Recovery Slogans (12step.org)

Alcoholics Anonymous Cleveland. History of AA Slogans. https://www.aacle.org/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. https://www.researchgate.net/publication

NCBI. “First Things First”: What is the First Thing?. April 20, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4838178/ 

Cambridge University Press. ‘ONE DAY AT A TIME’ AND OTHER SLOGANS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE: THE ETHICAL PRACTICES OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. April 5, 2001. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/sociology/article/abs/one-day-at-a-time-and-other-slogans-for-everyday-life-the-ethical-practices-of-alcoholics-anonymous/


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