A New Perception through AA

The AA Perspective on Spiritual Awakening

One of the boldest statements in the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) asserts, “having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps!” To those unfamiliar with the AA program, this may sound akin to a religious decree. However, AA is far from being a religion, despite some elements of dogma present. Instead, AA is a devotion to a spiritual way of life that involves conscious reflection and effort. So, what exactly does a “spiritual awakening” mean within the context of AA?

Understanding the Spiritual Awakening

The spiritual awakening in AA is an elusive concept, evolving over time, making it challenging to define. Famous AA member Chuck C. described it aptly: “it’s like having a new pair of glasses!” In essence, a spiritual awakening allows the world to appear different. You’re viewing the same world, but your perception has transformed.

Drawing parallels from other spiritual practices, Buddhists describe obtaining nirvana as “awakening from a deep sleep.” The sentiment holds remarkably true for the AA program as well.

From Darkness into Light: The Transformation

AA members who diligently practice the program transition from being takers to givers, from self-centered individuals to altruistic ones, and from playing the victim to embracing their role as responsible adults. This transformation signals the onset of their spiritual awakening. It signifies a shift in mindset and outlook, profoundly impacting their interactions with the world around them.

Recognizing a Spiritual Awakening

Wondering how to discern if an AA member has had a spiritual awakening? Observe their behavior and interactions over a few days, and the changes will be evident. The spiritual awakening within an AA context does not have to involve grandiose events or revelations. Instead, it’s seen in the everyday actions, choices, and behaviors that reveal a newfound perspective and commitment to a better way of life.


In Alcoholics Anonymous, a spiritual awakening symbolizes a shift in perception, a change in attitudes, and an improvement in actions. It’s a transition from a life ruled by self-centeredness to one focused on altruism and responsibility. It’s like donning a new pair of glasses and viewing the world from a fresh, enlightened perspective.

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