Twelfth-Step References, Techniques, Tips, & Sponsorship Tools in the Big Book

Compiled by Mike L. & Barefoot Bill L.

(All page number references refer to Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition)

There are 124 references to working with others throughout the first 6 chapters of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Chapter 7, ‘Working with Others is entirely devoted to the subject of working with other alcoholic addicts. Obviously the Big Book authors are trying to tell us something here — work with another alcoholic addict is vital to our recovery!

Here is a list of all Twelfth Step references in the 1st 89 pages of the original, unchanged text of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

From ‘Forward to First Edition’:

  1. Page xiii, Paragraph 1: “To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.”
  2. Page xiv, Paragraph 0: “We simply wish to be helpful to those who are afflicted.”
  3. Page xiv, Paragraph 1: “We shall be interested to hear from those who are getting results from this book, particularly form those who have commenced work with other alcoholics. We should like to be helpful to such cases.”

From ‘Forward to Second Edition’:

  1. Page xv, Paragraph 3: “The spark that was to flare into the first A.A. group was struck at Akron, Ohio in June 1935, during a talk between a New York stockbroker and an Akron physician.”
  2. Page xv, Paragraph 3: “Six months earlier, the broker had been relieved of his drink obsession by a sudden spiritual experience, following a meeting with an alcoholic friend…”
  3. Page xvi, Paragraph 1: “Prior to his journey to Akron, the broker had worked hard with many alcoholics on the theory that only an alcoholic could help an alcoholic…”
  4. Page xvi, Paragraph 1: “He suddenly realized that in order to save himself he must carry his message to another alcoholic.”
  5. Page xvi, Paragraph 2: “But when the broker gave him Dr. Silkworth’s description of alcoholism and its hopelessness, the physician began to pursue the spiritual remedy for his malady with a willingness he had never before been able to muster.”
  6. Page xvi, Paragraph 2: “This seemed to prove that one alcoholic could affect another as no nonalcoholic could.”
  7. Page xvii, Paragraph 0: “It also indicated that strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery.”
  8. Page xvii, Paragraph 1: “Hence the two men set to work almost frantically upon alcoholics arriving in the ward of the Akron City Hospital.”
  9. Page xviii, Paragraph 0: “Businessmen, traveling out of existing groups, were referred to these prospective newcomers.”
  10. Page xviii, Paragraph 0: “…A.A.’s message could be transmitted in the mail as well as by word of mouth.”

From ‘Forward to Third Edition’:

  1. Page xxii, Paragraph 2: “…A.A. is reaching out, not only to more and more people, but to a wider and wider range.”
  2. Page xxii, Paragraph 4: “Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.”

From ‘The Doctor’s Opinion’:

  1. Page xxiii, Paragraph 4: “As part of his [Bill W.’s] rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others.”
  2. Page xxiv, Paragraph 0: “These men may well have a remedy for thousands of such situations.”
  3. Page xxiv, Paragraph 1: “You may rely absolutely on anything they say about themselves.”
  4. Page xxiv, Paragraph 4: “Though we work out our solutions on the spiritual as well as an altruistic plane, we favor hospitalization for the alcoholic who is very jittery or befogged.”
  5. Page xxiv, Paragraph 4: “More often than not, it is imperative that a man’s brain be cleared before he is approached, as he has then a better chance of understanding and accepting what we have to offer.”
  6. Page xxv, Paragraph 4: “We doctors have realized for a long time that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception.”
  7. Page xxv, Paragraph 5: “Many years ago one of the leading contributors to this book [Bill W.] came under our care in this hospital and while here he acquired some ideas which he put into practical application at once.”
  8. Page xxv, Paragraph 6: “Later, he requested the privilege of being allowed to tell his story to other patients here [Towns Hospital]…”
  9. Page xxv, Paragraph 7: “Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure, before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit.”
  10. Page xxvi, Paragraph 2: “The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight.”
  11. Page xxix, Paragraph 2: “He accepted the plan outlined in this book.”
  12. Page xxx, Paragraph 1: “…he did become “sold” on the ideas contained in this book. He has not had a drink for a great many years.”
  13. Page xxx, Paragraph 2: “I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book through, and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.”

From Chapter 1: ‘Bill’s Story’:

  1. Page 8, Paragraph 4: “My musing was interrupted by the telephone. The cheery voice of an old school friend asked if he might come over. He was sober.”
  2. Page 9, Paragraph 6: “But he did no ranting. In a matter of fact way he told how two men had appeared in court, persuading the judge to suspend his commitment.”
  3. Page 9, Paragraph 6: “They had told of a simple religious idea and a practical program of action. That was two months ago and the result was self-evident. It worked!”
  4. Page 9, Paragraph 7: “He had come to pass his experience along to me-if I cared to have it. I was shocked, but interested. Certainly I was interested. I had to be, for I was hopeless.”
  5. Page 10, Paragraph 1: “He talked for hours.”
  6. Page 11, Paragraph 3: “But my friend sat before me, and he made the pointblank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself.”
  7. Page 11, Paragraph 5: “…here sat a miracle directly across the kitchen table. He shouted great tidings.”
  8. Page 11, Paragraph 6: “I saw that my friend was much more than inwardly reorganized. He was on different footing. His roots grasped a new soil.”
  9. Page 12, Paragraph 2: “My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?”
  10. Page 12, Paragraph 4: “Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might build what I saw in my friend. Would I have it? Of course I would!”
  11. Page 13, Paragraph 3: “My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies.”
  12. Page 13, Paragraph 3: “We made a list of people I had hurt or toward whom I felt resentment.”
  13. Page 13, Paragraph 5: “My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems.”
  14. Page 14, Paragraph 5: “While I lay in the hospital the thought came that there were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to have what had been so freely given me. Perhaps I could help some of them. They in turn might work with others.”
  15. Page 14, Paragraph 6: “My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles in all my affairs.”
  16. Page 14, Paragraph 6: “Particularly was it imperative to work with others as he had worked with me.”
  17. Page 14, Paragraph 6: “Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that.”
  18. Page 15, Paragraph 1: “My wife and I abandoned ourselves with enthusiasm to the idea of helping other alcoholics to a solution of their problems.”
  19. Page 15, Paragraph 1: “I was not too well at the time, and was plagued by waves of self-pity and resentment. This sometimes nearly drove me back to drink, but I soon found that when all other measure failed, work with another alcoholic would save the day.”
  20. Page 15, Paragraph 1: “Many times I have gone to my old hospital in despair. On talking to a man there, I would be amazingly lifted up and set on my feet. It is a design for living that works in rough going.”
  21. Page 15, Paragraph 2: “We commenced to make many fast friends and a fellowship has grown up among us of which it is a wonderful thing to feel a part. The joy of living we really have, even under pressure and difficulty.”
  22. Page 15, Paragraph 2: “We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship hey seek. At these informal gatherings one may often see from 50 to 200 persons. We are growing in numbers and power.”
  23. Page 16, Paragraph 3: “Most of us feel we need look no further for Utopia. We have it with us right here and now. Each day my friend’s simple talk in our kitchen multiplies itself in a widening circle of peace on earth and good will to men.”

From Chapter 2: ‘There is a Solution’:

  1. Page 17, Paragraph 3: “The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.”
  2. Page 18, Paragraph 4: “But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.”
  3. “…These are the conditions we have found most effective [for a Twelfth-Step Call].” (Taken from the last line of page 18, out of sequence.)
  4. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty…”
  5. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “…that he obviously knows what he is talking about…”
  6. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “…that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer…”
  7. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “…that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou…”
  8. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “…nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful…”
  9. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “…that there are no fees to pay…”
  10. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “…no axes to grind…”
  11. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “…no people to please…”
  12. Page 18, Paragraph 5: “…no lectures to be endured – these are the conditions we have found most effective. After such an approach many take up their beds and walk again.”
  13. Page 19, Paragraph 1: “None of us makes a sole vocation of this work, nor do we think its effectiveness would be increased if we did.”
  14. Page 19, Paragraph 1: “All of us spend much of our spare time in the sort of effort which we are going to describe. A few are fortunate enough to be so situated that they can give nearly all their time to the work.”
  15. Page 19, Paragraph 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.”
  16. Page 20, Paragraph 0: “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”
  17. Page 20, Paragraph 2: [For the question of: “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.”
  18. Page 25, Paragraph 1: “When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at out feet.”
  19. Page 25, Paragraph 3: “…we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This we did because we honestly wanted to, and were willing to make the effort.”
  20. Page 28, Paragraph 2: “We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men.”
  21. Page 28, Paragraph 3: “We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired.”
  22. Page 29, Paragraph 1: “…clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.”
  23. Page 29, Paragraph 2: “Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God. These give a fair cross section of our membership and a clear-cut idea of what has actually happened in their lives.”

From Chapter 3: ‘More About Alcoholism’:

  1. Page 31, Paragraph 1: “If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right-about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!”
  2. Page 31, Paragraph 3: “We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself, Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition.”
  3. Page 34, Paragraph 1: “If anyone questions whether he has entered this dangerous area, let him try leaving liquor alone for one year. If he is a real alcoholic and very far advanced, there is scant chance of success.”
  4. Page 35, Paragraph 2 & 3: “On leaving the asylum he came into contact with us. We told him what we knew of alcoholism and the answer we had found.”
  5. Page 35, Paragraph 3: “To his consternation, he found himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession. On each of these occasions we worked with him, reviewing carefully what had happened. He agreed he was a real alcoholic and in a serious condition.”
  6. Page 36, Paragraph 1: “Yet he got drunk again. We asked him to tell us exactly how it happened.”
  7. Page 39, Paragraph 2: “We first saw Fred about a year ago in a hospital where he had gone to recover from a bad case of jitters… We told him what we knew about alcoholism. He was interested and conceded that he had some of the symptoms, but he was a long way from admitting that he could do nothing about it himself.”
  8. Page 40, Paragraph 1: “We heard no more of Fred for a while. One day we were told that he was back in the hospital. This time he was quite shaky. He soon indicated he was anxious to see us.”
  9. Page 40, Paragraph 2: “I rather appreciated your ideas about the subtle insanity which precedes the first drink…”
  10. Page 41, Paragraph 2: “I now remembered what my alcoholic friends had told me, how they prophesied that if I had an alcoholic mind, the time and place would come-I would drink again. They had said that though I did raise a defense, it would one day give way before some trivial reason for having a drink.”
  11. Page 42, Paragraph 1: “Two of the members of Alcoholics Anonymous came to see me. They grinned, which I didn’t like so much, and then asked me if I thought myself alcoholic and if I were really licked this time. I had to concede both propositions.”
  12. Page 42, Paragraph 1: “They piled on me heaps of evidence to the effect that an alcoholic mentality, such as I had exhibited in Washington, was hopeless condition.”
  13. Page 42, Paragraph 1: “They cited cases out of their own experience by the dozen. This process snuffed out the last flicker of conviction that I could do the job myself.”
  14. Page 42, Paragraph 2: “Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully.”
  15. Page 42, Paragraph 3: “Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all my problems.”

From Chapter 4: ‘We Agnostics’:

  1. Page 45, Paragraph 1 & 2: “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.”
  2. Page 45, Paragraph 2 & 3: “Many times we talk to a new man and watch his hope rise as we discuss his alcoholic problems and explain our fellowship. But his face falls when we speak of spiritual matters, especially when we mention God, for we have re-opened a subject which our man thought he had neatly evaded or entirely ignored. We know how he feels. We have shared his honest doubt and prejudice.”
  3. Page 47, Paragraph 1: “When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book.”
  4. Page 47, Paragraph 2: “As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way.”
  5. Page 49, Paragraph 2: “We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice…”
  6. Page 50, Paragraph 2: “In our personal stories you will find a wide variation in the way each teller approaches and conceives of the Power which is greater than himself. Whether we agree with a particular approach or conception seems to make little difference. Experience has taught us that these are matters about which, for our purpose, we need not be worried. They are questions for each individual to settle for himself.”
  7. Page 50, Paragraph 3: “On one proposition, however, these men and women are strikingly agreed. Every one of them has gained access to, and believes in, a Power greater than himself. This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible.”
  8. Page 50, Paragraph 4: “Once confused and baffled by the seeming futility of existence, they show the underlying reasons why they were making heavy going of life.”
  9. Page 51, Paragraph 0: “Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory.”
  10. Page 51, Paragraph 0: “They show how the change came over them.”
  11. Page 51, Paragraph 0: “When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”
  12. Page 55, Paragraph 4: “We can only clear the ground a bit. If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, enables you to think honestly, encourages you to search diligently within yourself, then, if you wish, you can join us on the Broad Highway. With this attitude you cannot fail. the consciousness of your belief is sure to come to you.”
  13. Page 56, Paragraph 2: “One night, when confined in a hospital, he was approached by an alcoholic who had known a spiritual experience.”

From Chapter 5: ‘How It Works’:

  1. Page 58, Paragraph 2: “Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.”
  2. Page 58, Paragraph 2: “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.” (See pages 76 & 79)
  3. Page 58, Paragraph 3: “At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.”
  4. Page 58, Paragraph 4: “Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now!”
  5. Page 59, Paragraph 1: “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we asked His protection and care with complete abandon.”
  6. Page 59, Paragraph 2: “Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery…”
  7. Page 60, Paragraph 1: “Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”
  8. Page 60, Paragraph 2: “Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas: (a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. (b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism. (c) That God could and would if He were sought.
  9. Page 63, Paragraph 1: “More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.”
  10. Page 63, Paragraph 3: “We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step [Step 3] with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend, or spiritual adviser.”
  11. Page 69, Paragraph 0: “We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone’s sex conduct.”
  12. Page 69, Paragraph 4: “Counsel with persons is often desirable, but we let God be the final judge.”
  13. Page 70, Paragraph 2: “If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others. We think of their needs and work for them. This takes us out of ourselves. It quiets the imperious urge, when to yield would mean heartache.”

From Chapter 6: ‘Into Action’:

  1. Page 72, Paragraph 2: “Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story.”
  2. Page 74, Paragraph 4: “We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world. Rightly and naturally, we think well before we choose the person or persons with whom to take this intimate and confidential step.”
  3. Page 74, Paragraph 2: “It is important that he be able to keep a confidence; that he fully understand and approve what we are driving at; that he will not try to change our plan.”
  4. Page 75, Paragraph 1: “He should realize that we are engaged upon a life-and-death errand. Most people approached in this way will be glad to help; they will be honored by our confidence.”
  5. Page 76, Paragraph 3: “Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.” (See pages 58 & 79)
  6. Page 77, Paragraph 0: “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.”
  7. Page 79, Paragraph 1: “Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience…” (See pages 58 & 76)
  8. Page 82, Paragraph 3: “We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough.”
  9. Page 85, Paragraph 1: “Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.”
  10. Page 88, Paragraph 3: “There is action and more action. “Faith without works is dead.” The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve.”