You may have heard of the “Big Book.” What is that? The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is essentially the textbook that outlines the AA program and the 12 Steps, and features personal stories from individuals who have found recovery from alcoholism. This article explores the history of the Big Book and tells you what you can expect to find inside. For more details on the 12 Steps, visit our 12 Steps Explained Page HERE.
History of AA & the Big Book
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by a man named Bill Wilson. If you’re not familiar with Bill W.’s story, here it is (in brief): Bill was a once successful stockbroker turned terrible alcoholic who had become so ill with alcoholism that he was facing his own death. While in the hospital, he had a white-light, spiritual experience that alleviated his alcoholism just enough for him to leave the hospital sober. Bill was able to maintain his sobriety for a time and even began putting his life back together, but one evening, while standing in a hotel lobby on a business trip, he felt a strong urge to drink. He looked over at the glitzy hotel bar — people drinking merrily, celebrating and making liquor look glamourous. Bill knew he didn’t want to drink — that to drink, for him, meant another trip to the hospital or asylum. Yet he still felt an intense, nagging pull.
Suddenly a thought occurred to him as if it had been divinely placed in his mind: “You need another alcoholic to talk to. You need another alcoholic just as much as he needs you!’
Instead of going to the bar, he went to a phone booth. He called hospitals frantically searching for another alcoholic whom he could help. When he finally got through to a hospital receptive to the idea of his visit, he bolted over. He was sent to speak bedside with another man who had been struggling with alcoholism in the same way Bill had been. That man was Dr. Bob. Bill shared his story with Bob and won over Bob’s confidence. Bonded by their common struggles, Bill W. and Dr. Bob became the first two members of Alcoholics Anonymous.