Affectionately known by members as “The Big Book,” Alcoholics Anonymous is the textbook for the original 12-Step Recovery Program, now known by the same name.
It was written, and actually written by the committee, by Bill W., founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and many of the group’s first 100 members. The book was drafted between Bill W’s group in New York and Dr. Bob sent back and forth. the other founder of AA in Akron, OH.
Many longtime members of the Alcoholics Anonymous program view the great book with the same appreciation as others who do the Holy Bible and consider it divinely inspired.
This may seem obvious as the founders of the 12-step program began their spiritual journey of recovery in the Christian-based Oxford Group and adopted many of the principles of this group and other Christian organizations in forming the 12 steps. As a result, some would look at the great book with a measure of awe.
The purpose of the great book
As the foreword of the book says, “We Alcoholics Anonymous are more than a hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Showing other alcoholics exactly how to recover is that Main purpose of this book. ”
To accomplish this purpose, the Big Book is divided into two main parts. The first part, known as the first 164 pages or the “Original Manuscript,” explains the 12-step program and how it can be used to overcome the effects of alcoholism.
The first part contains Chapter 5, entitled “How It Works,” which contains the 12 steps and is usually used at the opening of any A.A. meeting worldwide.
Read out loud at most A.A. meeting
The second part of the book contains stories shared by some of the original members of A.A. regarding their personal experiences with alcoholism and how they found a path to recovery.
In the four editions of the book, some of these stories have been deleted and others added, but the message is the same – the only way to fully recover from the effects of alcoholism is to practice the principles found in the 12 Steps to do this can lead to a “spiritual awakening” for the alcoholic.
For those whose lives have been changed by this, Alcoholics Anonymous has become more than just a book – it has become a lifelong companion.
Probably the best known portion of the original manuscript that is out of copyright is in Chapter 5 known as “How It Works,” a section written by members of many A.A. meetings.
How it works
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has followed our instructions thoroughly. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not fully indulge in this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.
There are such unfortunates. It is not your fault; they seem to have been born that way. You are of course unable to grasp and develop a way of life that requires strict honesty. Your chances are below average.
There are also people who suffer from severe emotional and mental disorders, but many of them recover when they have the ability to be honest.
Our stories broadly reveal how we used to be, what happened, and who we are now. When you have decided that you want what we have and are ready to do anything to get it, you are ready to follow the instructions.
You may shy away from some of these. You may think you can find an easier and softer way to go. We doubt you can. With all the seriousness at our disposal, we ask that you be fearless and thorough from the start. Some of us tried to stick with our old ideas and the result was zero until we absolutely let go.
Remember, you are dealing with alcohol – cunning, confusing, powerful! Without help, it’s too much for you. But there is someone who has all the power – this one is God. You have to find him now!
Half-measures are of no use to you. You are at the turning point. Throw yourself under his protection and care with total surrender.
Now we think you can take it! Here are the steps we took that are suggested as your recovery program:
1. Granted, we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Believed that a power greater than ourselves could make us healthy again.
3. We have chosen to surrender our will and our lives to the care and direction of God as we understand him.
4. Take a searching and fearless moral inventory of us.
5. Conceding the exact nature of our injustice to God, ourselves, and another person.
6. We were completely ready for God to remove all of these character flaws.
7. He humbly asked him on our knees to remedy our shortcomings – hold nothing back.
8. Made a list of all the people we had harmed and prepared to make amends to them all.
9. If possible, these people will be redeemed directly, unless this would hurt them or others.
10. Continue taking stock and if we were wrong, admit it right away.
11. Searched through prayer and meditation to improve our contact with God and only for the knowledge of His will for us and the strength to pray.
12. After having a spiritual experience as a result of doing this, we tried to convey this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.
You can exclaim, “What an order! I can’t handle it.” Don’t be discouraged. None of us has managed to adhere to these principles so perfectly. We are not saints. The point is that we are ready to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have established are guides for progress. We claim spiritual advancement rather than spiritual perfection.