There Is A Solution - Study Questions

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, aka The Big Book, is the basic text for the AA program of sobriety. "Alcoholics Anonymous" Copyright 2012 AAWS, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Short excerpts used by permission of AAWS
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JohnZ
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There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by JohnZ » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:32 am

This is a series of questions I use in my Big Book studies. They don't constitute any sort of official method for studying the literature - they're just a series of talking points. I've found it very useful to have my sponsees search the Big Book and 12&12 for answers, and that process of searching brings us all to new levels of understanding and wisdom.

This thread was posted at the request of one specific user, but anyone is of course welcome to chime and and share their experience, hope, and strength.

1. What are the two common bonds that recovering alcoholics have that transcend political, economic, social, or religious backgrounds? (Pg 17)

2. What can a recovered alcoholic do for an alcoholic, that those who do not have a problem can't do? (Pg 18)

3. When one asks, "What do I have to do?" what is the answer given by the book? (Pg. 20)

4. What's the difference between a moderate drinker, heavy drinker, and a real alcoholic? (Pg. 20)

5. Where is the main problem? (Pg. 22)

6. What happens to the alcoholic's so-called will power when it comes to the thought of drink? (Pg. 24)

7. What is the solution, and how do we bring it about? (Pg. 25)

8. Explain the difference between Spiritual Experience and Spiritual Awakening. (Appendix II, Pg. 569-570)

9.What shall we do if we are "seriously alcoholic"? (Pg. 25)

10. What did Dr. Jung call the "Great American Businessman"? (Pg. 27)

11. Is there only one way to acquire faith? (Pg. 28)

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by Angry1541 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:56 pm

John, sorry, I went to a meeting tonight -- step meeting about the 4th step...not there yet, but it was good...i feel a little better.

So, I am going to get to this as soon as I have time...just finished dinner, gonna sit and process a bit, might see if I can't get to it tomorrow -- though I think I am gonna go to another meeting...:)

Decided I needed to get a real, non-electronic, version of the big book, something I can take notes in/with, dog ear, beat up really.
~Chris

Just for today...

I am going to stay sober.
I am going to a meeting.
I am going smile and laugh.
I am going to refrain from taking my anger out on other people.

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by Angry1541 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:31 pm

JohnZ wrote:This is a series of questions I use in my Big Book studies. They don't constitute any sort of official method for studying the literature - they're just a series of talking points. I've found it very useful to have my sponsees search the Big Book and 12&12 for answers, and that process of searching brings us all to new levels of understanding and wisdom.
This thread was posted at the request of one specific user, but anyone is of course welcome to chime and and share their experience, hope, and strength.
1. What are the two common bonds that recovering alcoholics have that transcend political, economic, social, or religious backgrounds? (Pg 17)
From the Big Book: A shared understand and a sense that we all share a common escape from peril, i.e we found a way out.

My Take: I certainly know that no one else will get it, even the problem drinker will never really understand what it's like to need a drink like we do...nor will they understand the impact drinking has on us. For some of us, that impact is visible externally, but the stuff that goes on inside, the invisible, is what really connections us.
2. What can a recovered alcoholic do for an alcoholic, that those who do not have a problem can't do? (Pg 18)
From the Big Book: Win another alcoholics entire confidence....when armed the proper tools.

My Take: Much like my last answer, we can connect because we get it!
3. When one asks, "What do I have to do?" what is the answer given by the book? (Pg. 20)
From the Big Book: While I read the page a few times, I am inferring, based on the following passage, the answer read and assimilate the rest of the big book:
"It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done. Before going into detailed discussion, it may be well to summarize some points as we see them. "
My Take: Read, listen and learn.
4. What's the difference between a moderate drinker, heavy drinker, and a real alcoholic? (Pg. 20)
From the Big Book: A moderate drinking can stop after one, or "giv[e] up liquor entire if they have a good reason for it". A heavy drinker, given the right reason, can moderate or stop if needed. A true alcoholic may have once been one of the the above, but at some point something switched and they developed an allergy to alcohol, which prevents them being able to stop drinking and s/he no longer can control his/her liquor consumption.

My Take: I know am in that last group. Once I start, it's all or nothing for me. No matter what I tell myself, no matter what others ask of me, I will find a way to get drunk. And if I can't get drunk, for one reason or another, I will simply be thinking about the next I will be able to get drunk.

5. Where is the main problem? (Pg. 22)
From the Big Book: Reading this page I see no reference to anything that answers 'the main problem' other than we do not know why an alcoholic becomes and an alcoholic and other's don't, but we do know, as soon as just one drink is consumed there is a every reason to in the world to assume many many more will follow.

My Take: I think the main problem is the with the first drink.
6. What happens to the alcoholic's so-called will power when it comes to the thought of drink? (Pg. 24)
From the Big Book: Our will-power disappears,

My Take: Like I said in number 4, I know this to be the case with me...I remember many nights when I would say, I shouldn't have more than two...then I would be on 4 and I would be like, just one more, then I would get into something and it would be 4 more, I would be one more then bed. Then I would wake up in my chair and think, welp, time for bed.
7. What is the solution, and how do we bring it about? (Pg. 25)
From the Big Book: "Self-searching, leveling of our pride, the confession of our shortcomings"

My take: That's why I am here...I mean it's not just about being sober, but being sober and happy, which means doing some serious psychological work as well.
8. Explain the difference between Spiritual Experience and Spiritual Awakening. (Appendix II, Pg. 569-570)
From the Big Book: Experience: "Most of think this awareness of Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience" Awakening: "He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly be brought about by himself alone."

My Take: So, given this a person could have already had the spiritual experience (i.e. believed in a higher power) but were ignoring the experience in lieu of drinking? I guess I can see that being the case, because I surely didn't much time thinking about my person conception of spirituality while I was drinking, but I consider it daily now.
9.What shall we do if we are "seriously alcoholic"? (Pg. 25)
From the Big Book: "accept spiritual help"

My Take: If all else is lost, why not? What else is there but spiritual help?
10. What did Dr. Jung call the "Great American Businessman"? (Pg. 27)
From the Big Book: "Utterly hopeless"

My Take: Yeah, if I want to be cured and be returned the land of 'normal' drinking, it's not going to happen. Nor I can just do it without some form of program/continual help. In that sense, I, too, am utterly hopeless.
11. Is there only one way to acquire faith? (Pg. 28)
From the Big Book: No, there is not one way to acquire faith.

My Take: Nor does faith mean the same thing to everyone, I am not talking about dogmatic things. I am talking about what people define faith to be in their lives.

Thanks again John...meant to get to this sooner, but I did two meeting nights...:)
~Chris

Just for today...

I am going to stay sober.
I am going to a meeting.
I am going smile and laugh.
I am going to refrain from taking my anger out on other people.

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by avaneesh912 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:22 pm

My Take: I think the main problem is the with the first drink.
Its not.

Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body. If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred alibis.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by Angry1541 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:54 pm

avaneesh912 wrote:
My Take: I think the main problem is the with the first drink.
Its not.

Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body. If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred alibis.

Bah! And I was gonna say that...the first drink and within myself. But I deleted the last part. Goes to show first thought/best thought when taking 'tests', but not when deciding whether to drink...haha
~Chris

Just for today...

I am going to stay sober.
I am going to a meeting.
I am going smile and laugh.
I am going to refrain from taking my anger out on other people.

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avaneesh912
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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by avaneesh912 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:06 pm

Goes to show first thought/best thought when taking 'tests', but not when deciding whether to drink...haha

But when it comes to an alcoholic, the book says, which I truly believe is true, we have no defense against that first thought. My mentor pointed to this paragraph in the book on page 24 (also in this very chapter):

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

The above negates all the modern day shares like, "Don't drink and go to meetings, even if your ass falls off".
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by Angry1541 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:18 pm

avaneesh912 wrote:Goes to show first thought/best thought when taking 'tests', but not when deciding whether to drink...haha

But when it comes to an alcoholic, the book says, which I truly believe is true, we have no defense against that first thought. My mentor pointed to this paragraph in the book on page 24 (also in this very chapter):

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

The above negates all the modern day shares like, "Don't drink and go to meetings, even if your ass falls off".
Agreed, that's why I qualified the statement with with "but not when deciding whether to drink" -- in that case, first thought is not best thought...outside of drinking, and particularly when test-taking, it's still a good rule of thumb...at least according to people that tell you how to take college entrance exams and such.

But I agree, my first thought when faced with whether to drink or not, is generally, "sure", but I have to check myself and change that into "sure, as hell is not gonna happen". Which, for the last 30+ days I have been able to do pretty easily -- it's the dealing with emotions that I need to work the steps for, or I will revert to just a simple "sure".

Thanks,
~Chris

Just for today...

I am going to stay sober.
I am going to a meeting.
I am going smile and laugh.
I am going to refrain from taking my anger out on other people.

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by JohnZ » Fri Aug 02, 2013 1:40 pm

Hey guys, sorry - our internet was down for a few days. I'll read this thread as soon as I get caught up on some other stuff.

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by JohnZ » Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:00 am

Hey friend - here are my reflections, just like last time - keying off your answers...
1. What are the two common bonds that recovering alcoholics have that transcend political, economic, social, or religious backgrounds? (Pg 17)
From the Big Book: A shared understand and a sense that we all share a common escape from peril, i.e we found a way out.
2. What can a recovered alcoholic do for an alcoholic, that those who do not have a problem can't do? (Pg 18)
From the Big Book: Win another alcoholics entire confidence....when armed the proper tools.
These first two questions begin to answer WHY we go to meetings. There are a lot of good reasons to go to meetings, but there are some bad reasons also. A lot of people will say, “Just don’t drink and go to meetings,” but that’s only the barest beginning of the program. Many AA’s get stuck in this pattern of “two-stepping” which the Big Book warns about later.

We have a common problem, and we’ve discovered a common solution, and because of these two things, we are capable of winning another alcoholic’s confidence and setting his feet on the path of sobriety. This is a very important principle to understand, and it implies that our mission at meetings is NOT to help ourselves, but to help SOMEONE ELSE. Later, in Step 12, we learn that we can only maintain our sobriety by giving it away.

This is one of the very good reasons to go to meetings: to find other alcoholics that we can help. We don’t have to hunt them down at hospitals and asylums like Bill Wilson – we can go to an AA gathering at any time, and find plenty of people that need our experience, hope, and strength.
3. When one asks, "What do I have to do?" what is the answer given by the book? (Pg. 20)
From the Big Book: While I read the page a few times, I am inferring, based on the following passage, the answer read and assimilate the rest of the big book:"It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done. Before going into detailed discussion, it may be well to summarize some points as we see them. "
My Take: Read, listen and learn.
That’s right. It’s not a trick question. Look for answers in the Big Book – that’s what you’ve got to do. It seems ridiculously simple and obvious, but you’d be surprised how stubborn and self-willed alcoholics can be about the program. Many newcomers go to meetings and listen, and talk, but when it comes to studying the literature they get curiously lazy. I should know: I was one of them once.

The most extreme example is a guy I met who was dry for 17 years, but never owned or read the Big Book. I’m not casting aspersions on him, because he was a sick and suffering alcoholic just like me, but he was clear-cut case of the dry drunk: generally morose, never laughed, always sulking. His physical demeanor even betrayed his lack of program – he bowed his head, dragged his feet, and was always looking over his shoulder, as if someone were about to pounce on him. If you asked him about his program he would admit, “I don’t do that – I do my own thing”.

I was tempted to quote Dr. Phil to him: "How's that working out for you"?
4. What's the difference between a moderate drinker, heavy drinker, and a real alcoholic? (Pg. 20)
From the Big Book: A moderate drinking can stop after one, or "giv[e] up liquor entire if they have a good reason for it". A heavy drinker, given the right reason, can moderate or stop if needed. A true alcoholic may have once been one of the the above, but at some point something switched and they developed an allergy to alcohol, which prevents them being able to stop drinking and s/he no longer can control his/her liquor consumption.

My Take: I know am in that last group. Once I start, it's all or nothing for me. No matter what I tell myself, no matter what others ask of me, I will find a way to get drunk. And if I can't get drunk, for one reason or another, I will simply be thinking about the next I will be able to get drunk.
I don’t have anything to add here except in my experience, you can progress through all of those types. I went from moderate to heavy to alcoholic over the course of about 10 years, then I engaged in truly alcoholic behavior for another 7 years before I got sober.
5. Where is the main problem? (Pg. 22)
From the Big Book: Reading this page I see no reference to anything that answers 'the main problem' other than we do not know why an alcoholic becomes and an alcoholic and other's don't, but we do know, as soon as just one drink is consumed there is every reason in the world to assume many many more will follow.

My Take: I think the main problem is the with the first drink.
Sorry, my mistake – the answer here is actually on page 23. Notice that the question is, “Where is the main problem…” not what. The BB says the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, and that’s expounded in the idea of powerlessness. This is an important distinction because it tells us that we are looking for a solution in our thinking, as opposed to our doing.
6. What happens to the alcoholic's so-called will power when it comes to the thought of drink? (Pg. 24)
From the Big Book: Our will-power disappears,

My Take: Like I said in number 4, I know this to be the case with me...I remember many nights when I would say, I shouldn't have more than two...then I would be on 4 and I would be like, just one more, then I would get into something and it would be 4 more, I would be one more then bed. Then I would wake up in my chair and think, well, time for bed.
Yeah, that’s exactly the way I drank as well. Eventually I gave up the idea of moderation – I knew I was going to drink every last drop in the house until I passed out.
7. What is the solution, and how do we bring it about? (Pg. 25)
From the Big Book: "Self-searching, leveling of our pride, the confession of our shortcomings"

My take: That's why I am here...I mean it's not just about being sober, but being sober and happy, which means doing some serious psychological work as well.
Notice that this answer is a response to the problem centered in our minds – we need a thinking solution! I also like the image, in the same paragraph, of picking up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.
8. Explain the difference between Spiritual Experience and Spiritual Awakening. (Appendix II, Pg. 569-570)
From the Big Book: Experience: "Most of think this awareness of Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience" Awakening: "He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly be brought about by himself alone."

My Take: So, given this a person could have already had the spiritual experience (i.e. believed in a higher power) but were ignoring the experience in lieu of drinking? I guess I can see that being the case, because I surely didn't much time thinking about my person conception of spirituality while I was drinking, but I consider it daily now.
It’s an important distinction – just keep it in your back pocket as we move into Step Two.
9.What shall we do if we are "seriously alcoholic"? (Pg. 25)
From the Big Book: "accept spiritual help"

My Take: If all else is lost, why not? What else is there but spiritual help?
That’s a very good attitude to take as a newcomer. Why not give it a try? What do you have to lose? You’ll find that willingness is a huge part of this program, and a little willingness can take you a very long way indeed.
10. What did Dr. Jung call the "Great American Businessman"? (Pg. 27)
From the Big Book: "Utterly hopeless"

My Take: Yeah, if I want to be cured and be returned the land of 'normal' drinking, it's not going to happen. Nor I can just do it without some form of program/continual help. In that sense, I, too, am utterly hopeless.
Jung goes on to tell him that some people have found a solution through powerful spiritual experiences, so we need to take the word “hopeless” with a grain of salt. Jung just didn’t know how to bring about such spiritual states, but the experience of countless millions of AA’s attests to the fact that it CAN be done. It MUST be accomplished, in fact, if we are to recover.
11. Is there only one way to acquire faith? (Pg. 28)
From the Big Book: No, there is not one way to acquire faith.
My Take: Nor does faith mean the same thing to everyone, I am not talking about dogmatic things. I am talking about what people define faith to be in their lives.
The idea here is simply to keep an open mind, and be willing to try faith. Faith will mean something unique to you – it doesn’t need to be anybody else’s faith, and in the next chapters, the Big Book gives some suggestions as to how we can go about acquiring a faith that works for us individually.

I’ll post the questions for the next chapter shortly.

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by rjr34036 » Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:35 pm

Hello! Just came across and decided to register online as I’m doing a book study and currently in There Is A Solution. In response to the difference between Spiritual Awakening and Spiritual Experience... when I began I wondered if they were different. It gets confusing in the book when Bill uses synonyms, and often I was left wondering if they have different meanings. Anyway, from what I’ve learned, Spiritual Experience, Spiritual Awakening, psychic change and personality change are used in the literature interchangeably, all alluding to the personality change sufficient to bring about permanent recovery.

Backstory: it’s said that when asked why he used different words and if he means different things, Bill stated that he went to college and in his courses was taught not to repeat yourself. That’s why we get words like “academic/pointless/futile/useless” “awakening/experience” “psychic change/personality change” etc, the list goes on. He said when you repeat yourself it shows how limited your vocabulary is and you look dumb LOL.
ReAnneR

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by PaigeB » Wed Nov 27, 2019 12:21 pm

rjr34036 wrote:
Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:35 pm
Hello! Just came across and decided to register online as I’m doing a book study and currently in There Is A Solution. In response to the difference between Spiritual Awakening and Spiritual Experience... when I began I wondered if they were different. It gets confusing in the book when Bill uses synonyms, and often I was left wondering if they have different meanings. Anyway, from what I’ve learned, Spiritual Experience, Spiritual Awakening, psychic change and personality change are used in the literature interchangeably, all alluding to the personality change sufficient to bring about permanent recovery.

Backstory: it’s said that when asked why he used different words and if he means different things, Bill stated that he went to college and in his courses was taught not to repeat yourself. That’s why we get words like “academic/pointless/futile/useless” “awakening/experience” “psychic change/personality change” etc, the list goes on. He said when you repeat yourself it shows how limited your vocabulary is and you look dumb LOL.
I know what Bill was feeling. Back in the old days we had roget's thesaurus which gave us paragraphs of synonyms! I still don't get some old phrases though, like "We are convinced to a man"....
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: There Is A Solution - Study Questions

Post by John_L. » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:24 am

Great post. I recall one of my earlier sponsors who was a hardcore book guy talking to me about this very topic. What was cool about those conversations was how he tried to always bring it to the here and now and relate the book commentary to my personal experiences with these things. He talked to me about the many spiritual experiences Bill had had (like the one in Winchester cathedral), and yet continued to drink. He asked me to go back in my life and think of times I had felt those type of experiences. The awe and wonder of feeling very small but very big at the same time and the overwhelming sense of peace and wholeness I felt in those moments. He asked me why I had not stayed in those spaces of spiritual contentment and acceptance, and my answer was because of life. My recovery has been about learning to stay in those moments of spiritual understanding more fully even while walking through life. I kind of think it's like that for most of us in recovery, and all the things life throws at us are just opportunities to learn and grow "one day at a time." Thanks again for your excellent post.
John L.

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