Purposes of the Big Book
(as the Big Book sees it)

Version B 7/6/2000

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NOTICE This is not an official site of, nor does it represent, Alcoholics Anonymous.  You may contact A.A. at Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. 


We are the Big Book Bunch group of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our origins are the Students of the Big Book group, which has met in Woodland Hills, California since December of 1985. Our goals are to live the spiritual process through which sobriety is obtained and enhanced, and to publish (at no charge) our experience for other recovering alcoholics. We have absolutely no affiliation with any organization or cause other than our membership as individuals in A.A..

Our written materials are not official AA literature. They usually do, nevertheless, contain information from the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) and other conference approved literature owned and published by Alcoholics Anonymous. All A.A. material used identifies the source from which it is quoted. References in our documents to Big Book content exclude its stories. Included is all material from inside the front cover through page 164, plus Appendices I (Traditions) and II (Spiritual Experience).

You may reproduce materials of the Big Book Bunch, provided: a) that sources of materials (AA or the BBB) are identified, b) that no charge is made for the materials, and c) that they are not distributed by an organization or process that charges a fee. If you have corrections or improvements, please pass them on to us using the mailbox at the bottom.

It is common to hear in a meeting what the purpose of the Big Book is when the enlightening member reads a quote setting forth the purpose he has in mind.  The purpose we usually hear is number 1 or 5 below.  By now, you will note that we have found not one, but eight purposes the authors of the Big Book had in mind for it.

It is likely that the authors were sincere in all of these objectives.  So, have fun, and achieve the purpose, too, if you will, please.

  1. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. [Big Book, page xiii, line 5]

  2. We of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the reader will be interested in the medical estimate of the plan of recovery described in this book. [Big Book, page xxiii, line 1]

  3. We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to the task our combined experience and knowledge. This should suggest a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem. [Big Book, page 19, line 20]

  4. You may already have asked yourself why it is that all of us become so very ill from drinking. Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. 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. We shall tell you what we have done. [Big Book, page 20, line 11]

  5. Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power? Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. That means we have written a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral. [Big Book, page 49, line 9]

  6. In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism, as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic. Many who once were in this class are now among our members. Surprisingly enough, we find such convictions no great obstacle to a spiritual experience. Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered. These are followed by forty-three personal experiences. [Big Book, page 29, line 3]

  7. To return to the subject matter of this book: It contains full suggestions by which the employee may solve his problem . [Big Book, page 143, line 32]

  8. We have shown how we got out from under. [Big Book, page 152, line 11]

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