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The Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Big Book

Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book Resurgence - When you attend AA, you can use its 12-step program book to help you.

The Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Big Book

The big book, the 12-step program book, is a large book that shares stories of hundreds of men and women and their journey towards recovery from alcoholism. It’s more than a book. It’s a way of life. Alcoholics Anonymous-The Big Book-has served as a lifeline to millions worldwide.

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Steps an Alcoholic Can Take to Recover

The 12-step program book, which was written to be a fundamental dissertation on various steps an alcoholic can take to recover from alcoholism, was put together by a Naissance member of the Alcoholics Anonymous group, William G. Wilson AKA Bill W. AA conceptually outlines a 12-step plan that has now been commonly accepted and applied to many other types of substance abuse and addiction, but was originally designed to be a treatise on from alcoholism rehabilitation only.

The Big Book gained popularity worldwide and became a record-breaking bestseller receiving awards for ‘’the most influential books written in English’’ by ‘’TIME Magazine’’, and one for ‘’books that shaped America’’ by the ‘’Library of Congress’’ among numerous others.

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The Authorship and the Birth of the Big Book


The author of the Big Book, Bill W., was a successful businessman who got the pink slip due to his alcohol problem; he was always hitting the bottle.

He joined the Oxford Group, a charismatic revolution organization with its origins in Christianity and was very prominent in AA’s early evolution, where he encountered Dr. Bob, the other co-founder of AA.

They both discovered that disclosing their experiences and stories with members allowed them deal with their craving and addiction and helped and supported their convalescence.

Many started to share their stories with others, and the program appeared to encourage sobriety among members. Bill began writing the book in the late 1930s, and they both published the first edition in 1939.


What is in the AA Big Book?


The book is more than 400 pages in length and has many chapters to it. Several of its branches are dedicated to AA members in particular, while some are universal.  For instance, the second portion of the book includes the detailed life story of problem drinkers and their journeys to recovery; chapter 5 outlines the 12 steps, and the following section discusses the styles in actions needed to undertake until step number 10.


It is Readily Available to Anyone


The journal is made readily available to anyone. The organization Alcoholics Anonymous has conducted extensive research to assist people who are willing to use the book’s codes and incorporate its values into their personal life. They contain guides about navigating through all the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy referred to as The 12 Steps. These guides include thoughts such as learning and functioning each day, including several more resources to enable people to follow the Big Book’s values to grasp its doctrines more.

Big Book Ultimate Focus

The 12-step program book’s ultimate focus is to encourage individuals to devote themselves to a particular treatment method from dependence that involves the faith of a “supernatural authority.” Through so many years, these ideas of a supernatural entity gradually evolved into something of a theological mentality. However, initially, the supreme force definition throughout the narrative portrayed the Christian religion due to the Oxford Society’s impact upon the AA pioneers.

As Alcoholics Anonymous grew its recruitment, non-Christians also began to participate in community activities and bring their philosophy into practice. As this happened, the concept of higher authority was more inclusive to encourage persons from certain cultures to learn from the system.


Curl Up With the Big Book Daily


AA pioneers urged its members to curl up with the big book daily and obey its value.  Many of AA’s ardent leaders are streamlined religious conservatives who resonate with the Big Book on research-based corroborating evidence, guidance from psychologists, and other alternative treatment strategies that may not follow AA’s ideas. Even so, hundreds of millions of group supporters absolutely confirm the book’s beneficial impacts in their lives. New participants are implored to purchase the big book for their daily perusal. When they have inquiries, they have been recommended to address them between their AA colleagues or patron.

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Effectiveness and Criticisms

The principle support for AA comes from members who are meticulously devoted to its precepts and overall approach. Over the years, many critiques of AA have been expressed; perhaps that became most controversial was an opinion article published in The Atlantic in the year 2014.

Given that AA seeks to protect its participants’ identity and information, there is also insufficient evidence supporting its involvement in relevant scientific studies. Several skeptics had also highlighted several faults in this model, along with its Judeo-Christian foundation and extensive citations to God, which makes AA a kind of cult. One significant flaw often identified with the book is its dependence on observational information (simple moral opinions and non-study-based individual reports) and AA’s reluctance to allow itself to be subjected to objective analysis.

Such problems position accounts of AA’s progress and the Big Book’s precepts as close to positive claims about those who employ psychics or consult horoscopes.

Big Book and AA Meetings Helped Shape their Life

On the other hand, AA has quite an impressively large group of dedicated adherents worldwide that affirm that the values presented in the Big Book and AA meetings helped shape their life and helped them sustain their sobriety. Many who are caught up in the legal system for reasons that are blamed on alcoholism or supplementary drug abuse are always obligated by courts to attempt 12-Step gatherings. It is the opinion of numerous government officials and judges that these gatherings are helpful to recovery.

On the other hand, empirical studies did not suggest that 12-Step courses such as AA and its principles in the Big Book are any more effective than any other structured method of recovery. In some cases, they are probably not as effective as empirically validated approaches.

There is No One-Size-Fits-All

In the concluding analysis, the program and the information outlined in the Big Book and the program followed in AA meetings, are not for everyone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that there is no “one-size-fits-all” recovery method from any substance abuse and misuse disorder. Some people will find the Big Book quite helpful, whereas others may not find any significance in it.

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Alcohol Rehab Center at Resurgence

There is no harm in following the steps and other information in the Big Book, including the treatment plan shared in AA and several other 12-step groups. At Resurgence, we use some of the principles along with our treatment plans. We recommend follow-up meetings during aftercare, such as AA groups. Finding a mentor who will help you through tough times is also a strategy we encourage.

We do adhere to evidence-based treatment plans. While some principles in the Big Book will help, they are not a substitute for therapy that has been scientifically tested and effective for many people. Give us a call; we will be happy to discuss our Alcohol Rehab treatment with you and help you find the best way forward. Readers interested in learning more about the Big Book can find an online PDF version here.

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