Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Fifteen

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 finishing the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

Picking up from last week, Working With Others goes on to offer advice on how we can act when we’re someplace where people are drinking. It says, “Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it” (p. 102).

The idea of contributing to an occasion, rather than simply trying to have a good time, touches upon a central theme of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was a taker my entire life. I was selfish to the extreme. After getting sober, it was time for me to start giving!

Say I’m at a friend’s birthday party. People are drinking and having a good time. I can have a good time and try my best to make the birthday gal have an even better time!

In fact, Working With Others says as much. The chapter reads, “If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically” (p. 102).

Sounds simple. Of course, like most of AA’s principles, it’s much easier said than done! After all, it takes time to break habits we’ve had for years or decades.

The chapter then goes on to talk about how we interact with “normies.” It advises us not to infringe upon our nonalcoholic friends’ right to drink. It says, “Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account” (p. 102).

It would be pretty selfish of us to impose on someone who wants to drink (who doesn’t have a problem with booze). Remember, we’re trying to get rid of this selfishness! We’re growing as women from selfish to selfless.

What about keeping booze in our house, though? Maybe we have a boyfriend or husband who likes a beer with dinner. Maybe we live with our parents and they like a cocktail before bed. What do we do?

Once again, the Big Book has us covered! Working With Others says,

“Many of us keep liquor in our homes…some of us still serve it to our friends provided they are not alcoholic…we feel that each family, in the light of their own circumstances, ought to decide for themselves” (pp. 102-103).

Thanks AA! You have an answer to every question that crosses my mind! This chapter ends with two key ideas. First it advises us recovering alcoholics to avoid prejudice. It says, “We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution” (p. 103).

Sounds good to me. There’s no reason for me, as a sober woman of grace and dignity, to hate on people who drink. Of course, if someone is struggling with alcoholism or addiction, I’ll be quick to share my story with them.

Working With Others ends with a quote I hear repeated often in the rooms of recovery. It goes a little something like,

After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!” (p. 103).

Sounds about right to me!

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