Is Meditation Good for Alcoholics?

When Bill W. and his collaborators developed a recovery program in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, few people would have envisioned the truly timeless application of these concepts and how meditation for alcoholics is a key tool.

The 12 steps offer us a guide for living, and millions of people have been able to get and stay sober by practicing these principles in all their affairs. Meditation for alcoholics is a tool found in Step 11.

So, after we have worked the twelve steps and perhaps even accumulated some time, how do we further enhance our sobriety and include meditation? Again, the Big Book provides the answer in Step 11:

meditation alcoholics recovery

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”


The word meditation is mentioned 37 times in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is also specifically called out in Step 11. However, many AA members struggle to embrace the concept of meditation for alcoholics. I experienced a never-ending rush of racing thoughts compounded by a life-long battle with ADD. My first attempts at meditation lasted only a few seconds. I couldn’t sit still and certainly couldn’t control my thoughts. But, as with all things in AA, someone suggested an approach that changed my perspective.

Prayer vs. Meditation

AA often encourages us to “Pray When You Can.” I would assert the same is true for meditation. But what is the real difference between prayer and meditation? Perhaps prayer is talking with God, and meditation is listening to God. Aha! This approach made a lot of sense since listening is defined as “giving one’s attention to a sound.”

So, if we can focus on listening, we are practicing meditation.

Improving my conscious contact with God involves me being more open and aware.

Unlike my drinking days, when I was shut down and sometimes literally unconscious, meditation provided me the opportunity to focus on increasing my awareness. For me, this is a great accelerant to enhance my sobriety. How?

The Thoughts In My Head

One of my biggest character defects is and continues to be, self-reliance. Trying to solve my problems or someone else’s was a full-time job. What I realized was that a large part of the thoughts in my head were a result of the over-use or imbalance of this defect. I was always trying to fix or solve something. By practicing meditation for alcoholics and focusing on listening to my Higher Power, I can calm those voices and rely on my Higher Power. I can enjoy moments of peace and reflection by simply practicing my listening skills. Most of all, I’m not overwhelmed with racing thoughts or trying to solve problems.

meditation alcoholics anonymous

Meditation is a practice, and like anything else, you will get better over time. If you want to enhance your sobriety and fully work Step 11, consider incorporating meditation for alcoholics into your program.

By Suzanne R.

Podcasts that talk about meditation:

173: Bill C- Step 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous

159: Buddy C- Sober Meditations

146: David G- Sober Speak LIVE!!! Part 2- Q&A with David

85: Dawn C- Do The Work in Alcoholics Anonymous

57: Megan P- Recovery Provides Everything Alcohol Promises

47: Tim S of Sober Nation - Make it to Midnight