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25 Addiction Recovery Rules of the Big Book

The 12 step promises of alcoholics anonymous

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Simple Addiction Recovery Rules

First off, if you want free copies of The Big Book of AA to either download or read online, you will find them below. The Big Book is well worth a read for anyone wanting to grown, heal and learn. It is NOT just for alcoholics!

If you go to enough meetings, you’ll hear a few addiction recovery rules and recommendations flung around. You’ll have heard it said that in AA, “there are no musts, only suggestions”. Well, like most half-truths in A.A., if you hear them long enough you begin to believe them. But what does the Program have to say about this? It says in the Big Book on page 19, “We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to task our combined experience and knowledge. This should suggest a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.” So the weird bit is that, there are no rules really to speak of, but only suggestions to follow. What this means is that if you find yourself wanting, what sober people ave in the fellowship, then the way there is through a list of suggestions. The twelve steps outline a way through and out of addiction towards what they call a spiritual solution. This means a solution that is outside of you. If history and the present say anything about an alcoholic or addict we will learn that if the problem hasn’t been solved by the addict playing God yet, that they need another external solution, God (Higher Power). This computes into a reasonable science that has seen millions of people recovery from what many once thought was a hopeless en devour. An addict who won’t accept help stands alone. In AA we know the addict especially needs self, other and God to solve his conundrum. So the guidelines below are nothing more than that, a guide of suggestions written down by others to drive you towards a ‘spiritual solution’ to the souls addiction dilemma. 

What is AA and the Big Book about really?

Alcoholics Anonymous (or the ‘Big Book’ as it is commonly called) was first published in 1939 and was subtitled The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism. It is the first text written about the experiences of the founders of the A.A. movement. It tells the story of Bill W., one of the co-founders of A.A. and how the program worked in the early days of the movement. It is full of much timeless and practical wisdom and is the first standard (and some would say the only standard) text of A.A. and, subsequently, of 12 step programs.

You can read the book online (2nd edition) or you can download the book (496 KB download size) in PDF format.

A more recent version of the Big Book can also be found online at the A.A. website. The newer versions differ mostly in the stories that are collected at the end of the book about people who have recovered using the 12 step approach.

In a chapter entitled “How It Works” it says, “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a Program of Recovery.” So, it’s the WHOLE Program that is suggested. This is kinda important. It’s sort of like making a pie, something I suck at. However, I once ate a really great pie at my Grandmother’s house and asked for the recipe. If I use the SAME ingredients with my addiction recovery rules, with the SAME proportions, in the SAME baking sequence, then AND ONLY THEN will I get the full, desired result….grandmas great pie.

AA says that we have a way out that works very well for us. When families and addicts who have tried everything else first hear this, it can be hard to swallow. Yes, there may be another method you might use that you think brings about recovery from alcoholism, and if you so choose, have at it. You don’t have to take the A.A. Program, there are perhaps many ways to skin a cat. But “if you want what we have AND are willing to go to any length to get it”, to get what others have got from doing the programme; then go for it! . If you as an addict, or a victim, a witness, a codependent party that bears and shares the wrath of addiction, want sobriety, manageability, serenity and peace, perhaps a look at the big books recipe is well worth it.

Thus, “If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking – What do I have to do? It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions SPECIFICALLY. Interestingly, and scientifically speaking, we shall be evidence based and tell you what we have done” (page 20), and offer “CLEARCUT DIRECTIONS showing how we recovered” (page 29 of the addiction recovery rules). The secret is perhaps that there is no secret. Like all things in life, to begin you need a certain amount of willingness. Add honesty and openness and you stand a great chance of delving into a programme that, for many, has been the most incredible life changing experience they have ever had. This secret shared my friends, is perhaps the miracle of AA. 

addiction recovery rules

Addiction Recovery Rules List: 

AA’s Basic Text, by its own admission, offers us a specific set of addiction recovery rules for recovery from alcoholism simply called “the Program of AA”. Remember, half measures DO NOT avail us half results; “half measures avail us NOTHING” (and NO measures avail us of even less). The suggestion the programme has to offer is the WHOLE Program, and the AA Program does include musts, have to’s, and requirements (If you want the full, desired result). A must for example is doing all twelve steps is it not? So remember, the process is very much worth it because just one of the promises (guarantees) of working AA’s addiction recovery rules Program IN ITS ENTIRETY is that we will “know happiness, peace, and usefulness, in a way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes” (page 8). Well, excluding the stories, here’s the addiction recovery rules list:

1.Convincing testimony must surely come from medical men who have had experience with the sufferings of our members and have witnessed our return to health.(xxiii) (thus scientific evidence based testimony).
2. “Doctor, I cannot go on like this! I have everything to live for! I must stop, but I cannot! You must help me!”
3. Faced with this problem, if a doctor is honest with himself, he must sometimes feel his own inadequacy. (even doctors battle with the addiction conundrum, many get a sense of hopelessness from this experience for a while). 
4. Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric effort is considerable, we physicians must
admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole. (xxvii) (addiction seems an illogical problem).
5. In the course of his third treatment he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. As part
of his rehabilitation he (Bill W) commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others. This has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families. This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered. (xxiii) (today bazillions of people have recovered, scientific proof exists).
6. In this statement he (Dr. Silkworth) confirms what we who have suffered alcoholic torture must believe that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. (xxiv)
7. More often than not, it is imperative that a mans brain be cleared before he is approached, as he has then a better chance of understanding and accepting what we have to offer. (xxiv) 
8. The addiction recovery rules messages which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight. In nearly all cases, their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves if they are to re-create their lives.
9. I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the Universe, who knew neither time nor limitation 10. I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all.(14) 
11. Particularly was it imperative to work with others.(14) (the world is based on sharing, caring and connection).
12. Of necessity there will have to be discussion of matters medical, psychiatric, social, and religious.(19) (at Pathways we follow 4 pillars of treatment for all clients – physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual).
13. Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs. (19)
14. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the levelling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation.(25)
15. There was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our Feet. (25) (rock-bottom?).
16. It is only by fully disclosing ourselves and our problems that they will be persuaded to say, “Yes, I am one of them too; I must have this thing.” (29)
17. We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion (denial) that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. (30)
18. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol. (33)
19. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual (Higher) basis of Life – or else suffer more.(44)
20. We had to find a Power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. (45)
21. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what
they mean to you. (47) (addicts are by nature very closed off, very either or, left or right, yes or no).
22. Many of us have been so touchy that even casual reference to spiritual things made us bristle with antagonism. This sort of thinking had to be abandoned. (48) (our families are used to walking ion eggshells around us when we don’t get our way). 
23. We had to ask ourselves why we shouldn’t apply to our human problems this same readiness to change our point of view. (52)
24. When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did. (52)
25. When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis (read that again) we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t.

These 25 points are just a beginning. A tip of a wonderful new possibility in life! Read the Big Book. Get involved in a AA or NA programme. If you’re an addict you need others, you need God, you need something positive outside of yourself if you really want or expect lasting change. This humility is a great place for you to restart your life and rewrite your story. 

For more information about addiction recovery rules please contact Pathways Plett Rehab. Our team are here to help. 0824424779, info@pathwaysplettrehab.co.za. Blessings and Namaste.