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By: Diane Cameron
If you have been around Twelve-step recovery for a while, you have said those words: “We practice these principles in all our affairs.” We say this when we mean that we have to live our recovery outside the meeting rooms. And, more and more, the longer we are in recovery, the bulk of our recovery “practicing” is outside of meeting rooms.

Diane Cameron


We know in a general way what it means when we quote that line from the “Big Book” but it helps me to occasionally pause and ask. “What exactly do we mean when we say that?”
What principles are we talking about? We may mean that we practice the steps in the whole of our lives but it also means the actual principles that the AA founders had in mind.
Here is the short list of principles of recovery:

  • Humility
  • Service
  • Inventory
  • Amends
  • God’s Will
  • Surrender

A great personal exercise for just one week might be posting those principles on your desk top or on your phone, so you see them several times during the day, and ask yourself: “In that last meeting/conversation/interaction, was I practicing the principles in that particular affair?”
I find that to be an eye-opener, and it helps me to very gently face my own patterns of behavior and thinking.
Our reminder is this, from page 19 of Alcoholics Anonymous-“The Big Book”: “Elimination of our drinking is BUT A BEGINNING. A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our homes and our occupations.”

Diane Cameron’s book, Out of the Woods is a guide for women new to recovery. With time, recovering women face challenges and Cameron shares her experiences in hopes to teach readers how to handle the unexpected trials of double-digit recovery.