Audio Version of The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous
Click on the links below to listen to the Big Book (Fourth Edition) spoken version online.
Front Stuff - The Big Book
Dr. Bob and the nine men and women who here tell their stories were among the early members of A.A.’s first groups. All ten have now passed away of natural causes, having maintained complete sobriety. Today, hundreds of additional A.A. members can be found who have had no relapse for more than thirty years. All of these, then, are the pioneers of A.A. They bear witness that release from alcoholism can really be permanent.
Among today’s incoming A.A. members, many have never reached the advanced stages of alcoholism, though given time all might have. Most of these fortunate ones have had little or no acquaintance with delirium, with hospitals, asylums, and jails. Some were drinking heavily, and there had been occasional serious episodes. But with many, drinking had been little more than a sometimes uncontrollable nuisance. Seldom had any of these lost either health, business, family, or friends. Why do men and women like these join A.A.? The seventeen who now tell their experiences answer that question. They saw that they had become actual or potential alcoholics, even though no serious harm had yet been done. They realized that repeated lack of drinking control, when they really wanted control, was the fatal symptom that spelled problem drinking. This, plus mounting emotional disturbances, convinced them that compulsive alcoholism already had them; that complete ruin would be only a question of time. Seeing this danger, they came to A.A. They realized that in the end alcoholism could be as mortal as cancer; certainly no sane man would wait for a malignant growth to become fatal before seeking help. Therefore, these seventeen A.A.’s, and hundreds of thousands like them, have been saved years of infinite suffering. They sum it up something like this: “We didn’t wait to hit bottom because, thank God, we could see the bottom. Actually, the bottom came up and hit us. That sold us on Alcoholics Anonymous.”
The fifteen stories in this group tell of alcoholism at its miserable worst. Many tried everything—hospitals, special treatments, sanitariums, asylums, and jails. Nothing worked. Loneliness, great physical and mental agony—these were the common lot. Most had taken shattering losses on nearly every front of life. Some went on trying to live with alcohol. Others contemplated suicide or wanted to die. Alcoholism had respected nobody, neither rich nor poor, learned nor unlettered. All found themselves headed for the same destruction, and it seemed they could do nothing whatever to stop it. Now sober for years, they tell us how they got well. They prove to almost anyone’s satisfaction that it’s never too late to try Alcoholics Anonymous.