When Was the Big Book Written

When Was the Big Book Written?

The Big Book, officially titled “Alcoholics Anonymous”, is a renowned recovery text that has provided hope and guidance to countless individuals struggling with alcoholism. Its publication marked the birth of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) movement, which has since grown into a global fellowship of individuals supporting each other in their journey towards sobriety. Understanding when the Big Book was written is essential to grasp its historical significance and the impact it continues to have on the lives of those seeking recovery.

The Big Book was written between 1938 and 1939, during a critical period in American history. It emerged from the collaboration of Bill Wilson, commonly known as Bill W., and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, known as Dr. Bob. Bill W., a stockbroker from New York City, had struggled with alcoholism for years. In an effort to maintain his sobriety, he reached out to Dr. Bob, a surgeon from Akron, Ohio, who was also battling alcohol addiction. Together, they established the foundations of Alcoholics Anonymous.

During their meetings and discussions, Bill W. and Dr. Bob realized the importance of sharing their experiences and insights with others who faced similar struggles. They believed that personal stories of recovery could inspire and provide hope to alcoholics seeking a way out of their addiction. The writing process of the Big Book involved collecting and documenting these stories, as well as outlining the philosophy and principles that would guide AA’s approach to recovery.

The first edition of the Big Book was published in April 1939. It consisted of 400 pages and included personal accounts of alcoholics who had achieved sobriety through the principles of AA. Notably, the book’s anonymity was a crucial aspect, as it allowed individuals to openly share their experiences without fear of stigma or judgment. The Big Book quickly gained recognition within the recovery community and became a cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Q: Why is the Big Book important?

A: The Big Book is significant because it laid the groundwork for the Alcoholics Anonymous movement. It introduced the Twelve Steps, a set of principles that guide individuals towards sobriety, and emphasized the importance of sharing personal experiences to help others in their recovery journey. The book has provided hope and support to countless individuals struggling with alcoholism worldwide.

Q: How has the Big Book evolved over time?

A: Since its initial publication, the Big Book has undergone several revisions to reflect the evolving understanding of alcoholism and addiction treatment. The second edition, published in 1955, included personal stories from AA members and introduced the Twelve Traditions, which outline the principles for AA group unity. Subsequent editions have incorporated new stories and reflections, ensuring the book remains relevant and relatable to individuals seeking recovery.

Q: Is the Big Book only for alcoholics?

A: While the Big Book primarily focuses on alcoholism, its principles and insights can resonate with individuals struggling with various forms of addiction. Many individuals in recovery from substance abuse disorders, including drugs and gambling, have found solace and guidance in the Big Book’s teachings. The fundamental principles of honesty, self-reflection, and spiritual growth are applicable to individuals seeking recovery from any form of addiction.

Q: Can I find the Big Book online?

A: Yes, the Big Book is available online in various formats. However, it is important to note that the book’s content is copyrighted, and it is encouraged to support AA’s efforts by purchasing an authorized copy of the book. Additionally, attending AA meetings provides an opportunity to interact with individuals who have firsthand experience with the principles outlined in the Big Book.

In conclusion, the Big Book was written between 1938 and 1939 by Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Its publication marked a significant milestone in recovery literature, providing inspiration and guidance to individuals struggling with alcoholism. Over the years, the book has evolved, incorporating new stories and reflections to remain relevant and relatable to individuals seeking recovery from addiction. The Big Book’s teachings extend beyond alcoholism and can resonate with individuals struggling with various forms of addiction, emphasizing the importance of honesty, self-reflection, and spiritual growth in the journey towards recovery.

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