You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone.

Recently the Catholic bishops of Ireland issued an open letter titled ‘Alcohol: The Challenge of Moderation’. Among others the bishops included a recommendation for the use of Alcoholics Anonymous as a way for alcoholics to find freedom from alcohol. An extract of the letter states;


“. . . And what response can we make to those whose lives have already become unmanageable as a result of alcohol? The unmanageability, we know, is felt not only by the drinker, but by their family and friends and sometimes by work colleagues.


Around 1935, . . . , Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded in
America by a group of people who had achieved sobriety after many years of chaotic drinking. One of these, a man named Bill, wrote the “Big Book,” as it is called, which captures the wisdom of those early members.


Although people achieve sobriety in many ways, AA remains the greatest route to recovery for people who have become dependent on alcohol. AA has lessons for all of us. One of its crucial beliefs is that of a ‘higher power.’ As alcoholics, the early members found that their own willpower was inadequate to resist the temptation of alcohol. Time and again they had made resolutions to curb their drinking and, time and again, they had failed. It was only when they asked for help and support from a greater power that their path to recovery commenced.


Carl Jung, a psychoanalyst . . . , in a letter to Bill wrote about how the belief in a higher power had helped alcoholics where psychoanalysis had failed, describing the action of the Holy Spirit as ‘Spiritus contra spiritum’, the Spirit overcoming the spirit of alcohol. Alcohol confronts us with our own frailty and weakness. Even those who are not addicted need the support of a higher power in the journey through life if we are to avoid the perils of addiction. We need the support of friends, of family and of [the Higher Power]. Indeed, there may be people around us who need our support.


The love and support of God is mediated through people just like us when we reach out to others, bringing [the Higher Powers] love and care into our world.


There is a plaque which has been reproduced and which hangs on the wall in many treatment centers for addictions. It reads: “You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone.”


Bloggers Comment; Change takes place for alcoholics in the fellowship of other recovering alcoholics who openly and honestly share their experience, strength and hope of drinking and recovery. A Higher Power seems to be active in all meetings of AA transcending ego-self and ones own denial. The spiritual message seems to instill hope that newcomers can also get sober.


AA has grown to a world wide fellowship of nearly 3 million members in almost every village, town and city.


The full text of the letter is available by clicking here.

2 thoughts on “You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone.

  1. Thanks Jeremy,
    I agree and fully support that wonderful principle. It enables AA and other Anonymous Fellowships to remain aloof from controversy and concentrate on their one and only focus – recovery from alcoholism and addiction.

    This Blog does not speak for or represent any 12-Step fellowship.

  2. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name not be drawn into public controversy!

    Tradition 10…

    a recovering alcoholic!!


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