Written By: Fiona Stockard
The Big Book Broken Down – Part Fourteen
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.
AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).
Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.
Working With Others
These final few pages of Working With Others start off with a bang! Have you ever been told to avoid drugs and booze at all costs? Well, A.A. doesn’t think you have to do this! They say,
“Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all” (pp. 100-101).
Okay, sounds pretty standard, right? Wrong. The next sentence goes a little something like this – “Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so…we meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind…” (p 101).
We recover from alcoholism. Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re always going to be an alcoholics. We can never safely drink. Them’s the facts, honey. We do recover from the spiritual malady and the mental obsession, though. Our minds and souls heal!
Working With Others echoes this very idea. It reads,
“In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcohol tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but he usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever…These attempts to do the impossible have always failed” (p. 101).
We work the steps and have a spiritual experience. We recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. And then, we can go anywhere in the world. We can eat at bars. We can see concerts in clubs. We can do anything!
Now, it’s important to note that just because we can go to bars, doesn’t mean we always should. The Big Book says, “So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there” (p. 101).
Of course, the problem with that is constitutes a legitimate reason? Fear not, ladies! Once again, the Big Book has us covered. It goes on to read,
“Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, ‘Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places’” (pp. 101-102).
If you can answer yes to that question, then by all means go to a bar or club. If you’re only looking to get a thrill from being around booze, though, stay away. Remember, hanging out with a cute guy isn’t always a good reason!
Tune in next week for the conclusion of Working With Others!