What is the Big Book?
Established in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous is a society of men and women who have joined together to help each other recover from alcoholism. Members come from many different racial and religious backgrounds, have a desire to overcome their alcohol abuse problems, attend local AA groups, and do not pay fees. Today, there are over two million people in Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Big Book—actually a nickname for the book titled Alcoholics Anonymous—is the core text of the AA organization. It contains personal stories from recovering alcoholics. The first edition, written at a time when the society’s membership totaled one hundred people, was released in 1939. Since then three other editions have been published, and the book has been translated into over forty languages.
Why is the Big Book important to recovery?
The Big Book offers personal stories of inspiration, experience, strength, and hope from other AA members who are recovering from alcoholism. It contains the Twelve Steps—an outline that guides alcoholics through the basic principles of the recovery process. The Big Book also addresses family members of alcoholics, giving them advice on how to deal with their loved one’s addiction.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
How should you use the Big Book?
As addicts, we didn’t know how to live sober. We bounced through life going from one high to another, acting as if we were in control. The Twelve Steps offer us a new way of life and give us a basic guide on how to approach lifelong recovery. Use the Big Book to learn and work the Steps. Revisit your Big Book whenever you need inspiration. Remember, for over fifty years, these same Steps have guided millions of people to fight the disease of addiction with hope and spiritual guidance, rather than to live in quiet desperation.
Depending on where you are in working the Twelve Steps, you might want to look up Big Book topics on spirituality, forgiveness, or making amends. Whenever you need guidance or hope, make it a habit to call your sponsor and read your Big Book. Other recovering people are always available to help you on the journey of recovery.
The official website of Alcoholics Anonymous provides information on where to find AA groups in your area, a survey to help you determine whether you have problems with alcohol, and general facts about the organization.