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Big Book Quoters Don’t Stay Sober – Oh Really?

I heard in a meeting this morning “people who quote the big book don’t stay sober” and saw heads nodding along in agreement. Then I heard “you can be too smart to get the program, I hope I stay a dumb”.

My first thought was “Fuck off”. Then my next thought was that what he really meant to say was you can get trapped in intellectualizing the hell out of the program and it’s really simple – clean house, seek a higher power and help others.

I can’t count on both my hands and feet the number of people I know with long (double digit) sobriety that regularly quote the Big Book in their shares, stories and every day life. It’s our text book, it has directions “To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book“. So discounting those who know it is like stabbing yourself in the foot.

Knowing what’s in your Big Book is vitally important to recovering from “a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body“. If you were diagnosed as a diabetic, you wouldn’t just start injecting yourself with insulin all willy nilly – you’d learn about your disease, what to eat, how to eat, warning signs – and you don’t get that information from your next door neighbor or a person on a bus – it’s given to you in information packets and meetings with your doctor or health professional that understand what you’re going through.

The same is true of alcoholism. We have a “common solution” that has worked for countless people who were once just as hopeless as I was – I can choose to follow that path to recovery or I can choose to go a different route or skirt the edges of the Happy Road of Destiny and get what was promised when we practice half-measures: nothing. Our book says time and time again “further on are clear-cut directions showing precisely how we have recovered” and “Here are the steps we took which are suggested as a program of recovery”

On remaining dumb:  “Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness”. Page 84

Our book tells us also that self-knowledge is not the answer, so just knowing you’re an alcoholic and doing nothing about it isn’t going to get you far. You can quote the Big Book in meeting until your blue in the face but if you fail to enlarge your spiritual life it won’t help you at all – I think this is what the gentleman was trying to convey (actually I don’t really think this, but I kind of hope that it is, because remaining ignorant shouldn’t be a goal of anyone).

The common solution I talk about here isn’t the group therapy you see where you come and talk about whats wrong with your life, the common solution is a program of action – getting out of yourself and helping others, specifically alcoholics, but all others “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.

“…there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.” page 25 We don’t use a jack hammer when a hammer will do, but we also don’t use a hammer when we need the jackhammer, we use the tools that are given to us.

Read your book, talk to your sponsor, find the solution in the book and work our program of action. Lastly I’ll quote the back of the book twice:

“To those now in its fold, Alcoholics Anonymous has made the difference between misery and sobriety, and often the difference between life and death. A.A. can, of course, mean just as much to uncounted alcoholics not yet reached.

Therefore, no society of men and women ever had a more urgent need for continuous effectiveness and permanent unity. We alcoholics see that we must work together and hang together, else most of us will finally die alone.

The “12 Traditions” of Alcoholics Anonymous are, we A.A.’s believe, the best answers that our experience has yet given to those ever-urgent questions, “How can A.A. best function?” and, “How can A.A. best stay whole and so survive?” AA Page  561 (4th edition

and (I guess this one is Herbert Spencer not AA)

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance–that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” AA Page 568

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