Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Twelve

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).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

This chapter makes clear that the desire to get sober must come from within. We can’t make a family member, friend, or sponsee want to quit drinking. If they don’t want to, we simply have to move on.

Working With Others reads, “To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy” (p 96).

That’s much easier said than done! Fortunately, we have prayer and meditation on our side. We have spiritual tools that allow us to deal with any situation.

When working with a new sponsee, it’s important to remember that we’re offering spiritual guidance only. To that end, this chapter says, “…that he is not trying to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter. Permit that and you only harm him” (p 96).

I’m not a bank and I’m not a homeless shelter (although being both those things would be pretty rad!). I’m an alcoholic who has found a spiritual solution to the disease of alcoholism. That’s all I can offer a woman seeking help.

Working With Others goes on to list some of the ways that helping others can be inconvenient. Remember, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows! The chapter talks about how working with a sponsee may mean losing sleep, interrupting personal activities and work, having to go to hospitals and jails, and my phone ringing at all hours.

That seems like a lot of negative consequences all from helping someone out! Guess what? They’re all worth it. Anyone who has seen light and life return to a sponsee’s eyes will tell you the same.

Is sponsorship sometimes a hassle? Absolutely. Do I really want to pick up the phone during the last five minutes of Scandal? Not even a little bit. But I do it anyway. I sponsor women because it’s the best feeling in the world to help someone else and expect nothing in return. It’s the closest I get to meeting God.

Working With Others then returns to the idea there are certain things we shouldn’t help newcomers with. It says,

“He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense…we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God” (p 98).

Ain’t that the truth! I thought I needed to have a good job to get sober. I got that job and continued to drink. I thought I needed a cute guy to get sober. I got a cute guy and would drink in the bathroom after he fell asleep.

I needed God to get sober. That was it. End of story. Working With Others points this out, too. The chapter reads, “For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is needed or wanted” (p 98).

That’s been my experience. When I was finally ready and willing to get sober, there wasn’t much I needed. I had a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Oh, and I had God in my life. Guess what? I got, and stayed, sober!

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