The Big Book contains information on the history of AA, including the founders, Bill W. and Doctor Bob. The book tells the tales of other recovered alcoholics who found sobriety through the program. Other information and ways of support are also included in The Big Book for alcoholics and their families. The Big Book, on the other hand, is most recognized for detailing the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions that serve as the foundation of AA.

Alcoholics Anonymous’ success has been imitated by hundreds of other support groups, not only for alcohol but for dozens of other addictions such as drugs. In this sense, the Big Book is rightly regarded as one of history’s most significant and influential works of literature. Since Alcoholics Anonymous believes that recovery is a lifetime process, the Big Book is a constant companion in the life of a recovered alcoholic. Recovering alcoholics refer to the Big Book regularly as they advance in recovery, and they use it to help new members as they begin their recovery journey.

The 12 Steps

Alcoholics Anonymous is frequently referred to as a 12-step program, and AA provides the foundation for many other 12-step programs that have emerged. These 12 stages are explained in the Big Book’s Chapter 5, “How It Works.” The steps helped each of the AA co-founders in their recovery from alcoholism and have continued to help countless others in their battles with addictions.

Each step is detailed in depth in the Big Book, but here is a general overview of all 12.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Personal Stories

The Big Book’s Personal Stories section contains tales of AA members’ problems with alcoholism and subsequent attempts to attain recovery via the program. These tales are typically told in the first person, in the same way as AA meetings are. These anecdotes aim to show alcoholics that they are not alone in their problems and that others have conquered similar challenges. The Personal Stories area serves as guidance for individuals seeking sobriety in various ways. The author Bill W.’s life is not detailed in the Personal Stories section. In the first chapter of the Big Book, he describes his personal path.

The 12 Traditions

The 12 Traditions govern AA rather than the 12 Steps, which primarily guide persons to sobriety. They specify how AA groups should operate and the regulations they must follow. The majority of these rules are intended to safeguard Alcoholics Anonymous’ independence and privacy, as well as to guarantee that members may get the assistance and information they need to quit drinking. They also want to make sure that Alcoholics Anonymous is focused only on helping members quit drinking and remains open and friendly to anybody seeking help via the organization.

  • Tradition 1: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on AA unity.
  • Tradition 2: For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  • Tradition 3: The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  • Tradition 4: Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
  • Tradition 5: Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  • Tradition 6: An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  • Tradition 7: Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  • Tradition 8: AA should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  • Tradition 9: AA, as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  • Tradition 10: AA has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  • Tradition 11: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
  • Tradition 12: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Other Information

The Big Book also provides a substantial quantity of other information. The majority of the material is intended to assist alcoholics in finding and maintaining sobriety, but a significant amount is also dedicated to alcoholics’ families, friends, and employers.

Get Help Today

Alcoholism is a debilitating disease that has a devastating influence on whole families. If you or someone you care about is struggling to quit drinking, the Big Book is a terrific place to start. However, for many, it is insufficient. This is especially true for long-term and severe alcoholics, who may experience excruciating, perhaps fatal withdrawal symptoms if they quit drinking. Fortunately, many treatment centers around the country specialize in assisting alcoholics in getting through the hardest of times so that they may begin living sober lives. To discuss recovery alternatives, contact a specialized treatment provider right now.

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