Don’t Forget To Study the Big Book

studying the Big Book

Table of Contents

Studying isn’t necessarily everyone’s favorite way to spend time, though most of us have at least a few things we enjoy learning about. For those of us who are alcoholics and addicts, we come into contact with the book Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as the “Big Book.” This vital literature actually contains the 12-Step program of recovery, along with information about the causes, conditions, and consequences of the disease of alcoholism and addiction. It also contains testimony and stories from people who have worked the 12-Steps and found recovery as a result.

This book is simply a necessity for those who wish to recover from alcoholism and addiction. It will be the sourcebook used to work the 12-Steps with our sponsor. We can read it when we need a meeting, but can’t get to one. It will help us understand the deadly disease we suffer from. Reading it regularly can also teach us about ourselves and help us see things that we never could before — the things within us that have puzzled us all our lives. It will be one of our primary tools as we work towards recovery, and then throughout the rest of our lives in recovery.

Knowing all this about the Big Book, it seems needless to say that we would be well-served by regularly studying it. But it is necessary to repeat this advice, as we often get so swept up in meetings, fellowship, service, and other aspects of the program and lifestyle of recovery that we can easily lose our connection to this valuable literature. Though we may or may not care for studying, spending plenty of time with the book Alcoholics Anonymous can not only have a huge positive impact on our recovery and our spiritual condition, it can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. After all, our disease is a deadly one. A little studying hardly seems an unreasonable price to pay for our beautiful lives.

Why Do We Need To Study?

We will likely read through the Big Book with our sponsor as we work the 12-Steps. We will often hear people quote the book in various types of meetings. We will get recovery-influenced advice and guidance from our recovery community. Do we really need to study the Big Book outside of all these other sources?

The answer is yes — absolutely. The book Alcoholics Anonymous contains no opinions or interpretations, but rather a direct accounting of the 12-Step program of recovery that has helped thousands of alcoholics and addicts. It is the 12-Step book from which all other 12-Step books have sprung. It is a wonderful thing to hear it quoted and learn from other people’s experiences with the literature. Yet, there is no substitute for experiencing it firsthand. There is nothing quite like having a personal experience with the literature of recovery.

As we study, we often have incredible moments of relating, even though the book was written so long ago. We will see ourselves in its pages. From this, we can learn what our alcoholism and addiction mean for us and our lives and how we can apply the solution. Learning and discovering the wealth of information in the literature can open our eyes in ways that we may not even be able to comprehend at first. It can aid us in our spiritual growth throughout recovery and our personal growth as well.

There may be ways we think or behave that are mysteries even to us. Many of us find the explanations for these mysteries in the Big Book. There may be memories or episodes from our past that still hurt and confuse us. The Big Book can offer illuminating insights into these areas as well. There may be spiritual qualms about the program, questions about why we have to work the 12-Steps, or curiosity about how we can repair our lives. It’s no exaggeration to say that the book Alcoholics Anonymous addresses all these things and so much more. Only working the 12-Steps can have a more significant impact on our recovery than studying the Big Book can.

Big Book Study Meetings

Few things can be as rewarding to do with our free time as reading the Big Book. Even if we’re on our own, we can study it privately and take any questions that pop up to our sponsor or someone stable in recovery. Many of us read through the book with our sponsors as we work the 12-Steps, which is highly recommended. Our sponsors may suggest we read it alone, which is a solid idea as well. Yet if we find ourselves struggling to make time or make sense of the book, there are other options.

One type of meeting that is neglected most often is also one of the most important. Big Book Study meetings or Book Study groups are quite common, and they are a vital ingredient in a fulfilling meeting routine. We would do well for ourselves to find a book study and make it part of our weekly meeting schedule. These meetings are invaluable sources of connection to the literature of recovery.

Alcoholism and addiction are a devastating disease that can wreak havoc in the lives of those who suffer from it. The disease is of a three-fold nature: 1) the physical allergy, which results in the near-certainty that we will be unable to stop and stay stopped 2) the mental obsession, which consists of baffling and powerful mental blank spots and driving forces that make it practically impossible to avoid turning back to addictive substances, and 3) the spiritual malady, which means we lack the power to overcome the disease and achieve freedom and recovery on our own. Luckily, there is a solution that addresses each of the three main symptoms. The 12-Step program of recovery is designed to produce the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that make freedom and recovery possible. We must be honest, open-minded, and willing when we work the 12-Steps, but we cannot successfully recover on our own. We will need help. If you are ready to ask for help, Jaywalker Lodge is here for you. The 12-Steps worked for us, and they can work for you. Call us now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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