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Why are the first 164 pages of the Big Book So Important?

About the Book Alcoholics Anonymous

In the 1930s — before there were more than 118,000  A.A. groups around the world — chronic alcoholics had few places to go to meet with newcomers and others. Instead, someone who wanted to get sober, either met someone else with the Alcoholics Anonymous book, or they would mail the New York office and had one delivered to them. The alcoholic would read the book, follow what it said, and get sober. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous gave newcomers an outline or blueprint to create a new design for living. It helped newcomers develop a life that would rocket them into a new dimension.

In the first forward of the book, it states its purpose: “To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.”

The reason the Big Book carries so much weight in A.A. is that it has the directions to get sober. People today still follow their suggestions and still get sober.

We help people with addictions and substance use disorders recover. Get mindfulness training and learn the 12 Steps for deeper healing.

The Big Book is a Text Book

The book is not a story or a novel. Actually many recovered alcoholics say it is their textbook. It needs to be studied and understood so the reader can get and stay sober.

The Preface of the book even states this: “Because this book has become the basic text of our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists strong sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left largely untouched.” xi, Alcoholics Anonymous

The first 164 pages of the Big Book are the basic text. The first 164 pages explain the alcoholic problem and how to solve it.

Because it helped so many people recover, the Alcoholics Anonymous organization did not change it. However, some of the stories after the first 164 pages have been updated and changed as time has passed.

What’s Inside the 164 Pages

The first 164 pages address the problem alcoholics have to face.

For example, in the Doctor’s Opinion, which comes before chapter one, states that alcoholics have lost the ability of choice in drink.

It states the chronic alcoholics have a phenomenon of craving when they start drinking.

And the ease and comfort that comes from the first drink cause alcoholics to not know the difference between the true and the false.

The first 164 pages also discuss the differences between a normal drinker, a hard drinker, and a real alcoholic. It addresses people who have concerns about a God or a higher power. And then the book begins to give a solution to the problem of alcoholism, which is the 12 steps.

The first 164 pages are the nuts and bolts of the program. They provide directions to get sober. It also explains the principles we need to have to become recovered and to stay sober.

Dear Renewal Lodge Visitors,

My name is John Bruna, co-founder of the Mindfulness in Recovery® Institute, and more importantly, a grateful member of the recovery community. I am incredibly fortunate to have found my recovery in 1984. Of course, I did not achieve continuous recovery through willpower or my own efforts, but through the guidance and caring support of countless others that selflessly taught me how to live through the 12 Steps.

My journey of recovery brought this once homeless, shame-based, traumatized, insecure young man to a life far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I discovered self-worth, the joy of helping others, the gifts of parenting and grandparenting, and most importantly the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful life with integrity.

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is that I have the opportunity to give back and help others discover their self-worth, dignity, and the skills to fully live lives that they find truly meaningful. This is the inspiration for developing the skills of Mindfulness in Recovery® (MIR) to meet the needs of new generations struggling with alcohol and other substance use disorders. MIR is a set of evidence-based skills designed to help people fully integrate their tools of recovery in ways that are personalized, practical, and in alignment with their deepest values.

While we train counselors and therapists throughout the United States and abroad, I personally have chosen to work directly with the amazing team and clients at Renewal Lodge to develop the model MIR 12-step program for the nation. I choose Renewal Lodge because of the vision of its mission and the dedication of its team. Renewal Lodge is an extremely rare environment in which the staff embodies the very mindfulness and 12-step practices and skills they offer their clients. The results have been beyond my expectations. It is an honor to be here and I treasure my personal time with every client I meet.

With Gratitude,

John Bruna
John Bruna
Director of Mindfulness