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Quotations: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

12 Steps of Recovery Simplified


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

  • Garbage Rules will prod you to face your self-defeating thinking that’s keeping you addicted.
  • Ego will help you to understand and overcome the underlying problem in your addiction.

“Vices are never genuinely tamed.” —Seneca

“For only what is itself still can instill stillness into others.” —Chung Tzu

“It is easier for the will to cut off certain things utterly than to use them with restraint.” —Seneca

“Addictions are extreme habits that are reinforced and supported by related habits. Therefore, addictions require a comprehensive approach rather than a single-target approach.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand.” —Bill W., AA Grapevine


The following are often quoted or mentioned in AA meetings.

Organized Alphabetically

  • “Act as if.”
  • “An alcoholic is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.” —Anonymous
  • “But for the Grace of God–There Go I!”
  • “Carry the message.”
  • “Come clean.”
  • “Detach with love.” —Al-Anon
  • “Different strokes for different folks.”
  • “Do the next right thing.”
  • “Easy Does It.”
  • “Estimable people do estimable things.”
  • “Get out of your own way.”
  • “Get out of yourself and into action.”
  • “God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.”
  • “Half measures availed us nothing.” —AA Big Book
  • “Humility doesn’t mean to think less of yourself, it means to think of yourself less.” —Anonymous
  • “I accept life on life’s terms.”
  • “I cannot afford resentments.”
  • “I didn’t cause it. I can’t change it. I can’t control it.” —Al-Anon
  • “If it’s to be it’s up to me.”
  • “It works if you work it.”
  • “It’s a program of rigorous honesty.”
  • “It’s a ‘we’ program.”
  • “Just for today, I will be kind to everyone I meet.”
  • “Just for today, I won’t drink.”
  • “Just for today.”
  • “Keep coming back.”
  • “Let go absolutely.”
  • “Let Go and Let God.”
  • “Let it begin with me.”
  • “Live and Let Live.”
  • “Live in the solution, not the problem.”
  • “Live life on life’s terms.”
  • “Love and tolerance of others is our code.”
  • “Pause when agitated.”
  • “Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink.”
  • “Recovery is the process of recovering who we are.”
  • “Sobriety ruins your drinking.”
  • “Take Life One Day at a Time.”
  • “Take the next right step that you can.”
  • “The geographic cure does not work”
  • “There are no victims only volunteers.”
  • “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” —Zig Ziglar
  • “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”
  • There’s no chemical solution to a spiritual problem.
  • “To thine own self be true.”
  • “Turn it over.”
  • “Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk.”
  • “When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation–some fact of my life–unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” —Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 449 (The Big Book)
  • “When you point a finger at another, you have three fingers pointing back at you.”
  • “Whoever seeks revenge should build two coffins.”
  • “You are as sick as your secrets.”
  • “You can carry the message but not the alcoholic.”
  • “You can’t give what you don’t have.”
  • “You can’t take someone further than you have gone.”
  • “You might not have chosen the addiction, but you can choose recovery.”

Related Quotations from Various Sources

Organized Alphabetically

“Action is the antidote to despair.” —Joan Baez

“Addictions are extreme habits that are reinforced and supported by related habits. Therefore, addictions require a comprehensive approach rather than a single-target approach.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“All those who are unhappy in the world are so as a result of their desire for their own unhappiness.” —Shantideva

“And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.” —Luke 12:22

“And then, examine it by those rules which you have, and find, and chiefly by this: whether it concerns the things which are in our control, or those which are not; and if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that is nothing to you.” —Epictetus

“At the head of all understanding is realizing what is and what cannot be, and the consoling of what is not in our power to change.” —Solomon ibn Gabirol (Solomon ben Judah)

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” —Thomas à Kempis

“Believe in recovery, redemption, and rehabilitation especially when the world wants to punish you instead of to help you.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Correct it or accept it.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Detach with love.” —Al-Anon teaching

“Distract yourself for 20 minutes; and, if you don’t feed a compulsion, temptation, or urge, then it will lose energy and pass.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens, happens the way it happens: then you will be happy.” —Epictetus

“Do not seek to bring things to pass in accordance with your wishes, but wish for them as they are, and you will find them.” —Epictetus

“Don’t forget to love yourself.” —Søren Kierkegaard

“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well.” —Epictetus

“Drinking alcohol is a privilege and a responsibility. I lost the privilege by not drinking responsibly.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing.” —Chuang-Tzu

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” —Anonymous

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.” —Epictetus, The Art of Living

“Happy he who learns to bear what he cannot change.” —Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

“I’ve developed a new philosophy–I only dread one day at a time.” —Charlie Brown

“If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.” —Robin Skynner, noted psychiatrist

“If you buy a ticket to hell, it isn’t fair to blame hell.” —Elon Musk

“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.” —Amy Tan

“If you desire any of the things which are not in your own control, you must necessarily be disappointed.” —Epictetus

“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” —Mary Engelbreit

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” —Maya Angelou

“If you want happiness for an hour: take a nap. If you want happiness for a day: go fishing. If you want happiness for a year: inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime: help someone else.” —Chinese proverb

“If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand.” —Bill W., AA Grapevine

“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” ―Jack Kornfield

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” —Narcotics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous

“It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going.” —Brian Tracy

“It is easier for the will to cut off certain things utterly than to use them with restraint.” —Seneca

“Let me do my best to change the unfortunate condition or accept it and live with it if I truly find that I can’t change it. Whining about how awful it is will only make it seem worse than bad and make me feel more miserable!” —Albert Ellis

“Life is short, pray long.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” —James Baldwin

“Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.” —Carol Burnett

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” —Wayne Dyer

“People will choose to live in your bad past; however, you can choose to live in your good present without them.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Recovery does not take care of itself no matter how old it is.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Recovery is the process of recovering who you were as a child.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery.” —Matthew Arnold

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” —Matthew 6:34

“The attitude of unconditional self-acceptance is probably the most important variable in their long-term recovery.” —Albert Ellis, Rational-Emotive Therapy with Alcoholics and Substance Abusers, p. 71

“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.” —Mark Twain

“The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.” —Albert Schweitzer

“The strongest addiction is to the hunger to be right about what is wrong.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“The truth is what is. And what should be is a fantasy—a terrible fantasy.” —Lenny Bruce

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” ―William Paley

“There is no elevator to recovery, redemption, rehabilitation, or sobriety. You have to take the stairs one step at a time.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” —Zig Ziglar

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” —Epictetus

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” —Matthew 6:25

“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” —James Joyce

“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” —Buddha

“Tolerating frustrating events well increases your power to change what you can change.” —Albert Ellis

“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” —Aristotle

“We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation.” —Jim Rohn

“We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else.” —Elie Wiesel

“When confronted with a situation which we cannot change, we are then challenged to change ourselves.” —Viktor Frankl

“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation–some fact of my life–unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” —Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, p. 449 (The Big Book)

“Who is wise? One who learns from every man. Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations. Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot. Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows.” —Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot)

“You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.” ―Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“You have to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.” —Eleanor Roosevelt


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