Alcoholics Anonymous Sues for The Big Book

alcoholics anonymous

It is probably fair to say that the when Dr. Bob and Bill W met for the first time, they did not have even the faintest of idea as to the impact their mission would have on history. Two newly sober drunks just trying to live a life free from alcohol, who realized that the only way to keep what they had was to give it away. To help others experience the gift through fellowship, community and all that is possible free from the fog of inebriation.

From small beginnings, and a serious learning curve, a small group of people would go on to lay the framework for what would become a lifesaving gift for not just alcoholics, but society. Their fellowship was free from monetary incentives or prestige, designed to function in relative obscurity for decades before an invitation into the light by the ever-changing culture. The program was breaking down the stigma that has accompanied addiction for time immemorial, forcing the world to see that alcoholics and addicts were not morally bankrupt individuals, unable to control their selfish wants and desires. But, rather, millions of people who were sick, needed treatment and compassion. Not jail cells, sanatoriums or being castaway as social pariahs.

Over the last 82 years, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has undergone several changes in how meetings are conducted, but one thing has remained relatively unchanged—the 12 steps and the book that explains how to work them. Wording has changed, but the traditions and principles have held true. The program could work for anything that makes one’s life unmanageable. As testament to the power of the program, you can remove the word alcohol and replace it with anything that you are powerless over. And if you work the program honestly, recovery is possible.

The Big Book

If you have ever attended a meeting of AA, then you probably noticed a number of texts sitting up on the front table. Books approved by the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (AAWS), deemed to be beneficial in the effort to stay sober—no matter what. The most important book happens to be the biggest, hence the working manuscripts moniker the “Big Book.” It includes within the writing instructions for working the program with the help of others, followed by several personal stories that recovering alcoholics can relate to.

One the major focal points of the program is the idea that while we all have different stories, inside each one can be found similarities. Powerlessness, unmanageability, surrender, acceptance and resolve. All of which can be found inside the stories in The Big Book. Like many other books that have served as spiritual compasses for humanity, the basic text of AA has helped people climb out of the abysmal depths of despair into the light of the spirit. Giving energy to those who have and are making the journey to help others out of the lonely cave of addiction.

The first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (called The Big Book because of how thick the pages were) was published in 1939, written mainly by Bill Wilson. Much like the other spiritual texts of antiquity, The Big Book has outsold most writings to ever grace a printing press. To date, the basic text has sold over 30 million copies, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, and has served as footprint for numerous organizations whose aim is to help people recover from debilitating spiritual crises. The Library of Congress deemed the book one of 88 "Books that Shaped America." Some twenty-years after the creation of AA the American Medical Association (AMA) declared alcoholism a medical illness, so it was fitting when the thirty-millionth copy of The Big Book was presented to the AMA.

But, What Happened to The Original Manuscript?

Any Big Book, no matter the edition has the power to save lives, but who could not help but wonder where the original manuscript landed after 78 years. It turns out that very question is the subject of a lawsuit filed on Monday by AAWS. The organization is suing the auction house, Roberts and QuestRoyal Fine Art, a New York gallery, who have plans to auction the manuscript on June 8th, Reuters reports. The manuscript was intended to be gifted to AAWS but was purchased in 2007 for $992,000 at Sotheby's just three months before by one Ken Roberts. And according to the plaintiff, Roberts does not have the right to consign the manuscript because it had been gifted to AA in 1979.

The manuscript is an original, historical document of unique importance to AAWS, and undeniably is a critical piece of its history," and the defendants "are wrongfully detaining the manuscript for their own pecuniary gain," the complaint said.

For more information on the case: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. v Roberts et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 652676/2017.

Celebration of Founder’s Day

This court case may go on for quite a while; however, it is important to remember that Alcoholics Anonymous Founders’ Day 2017 will be celebrated in Akron, Ohio, on June 9, 10, and 11th. You may want to consider joining in the anniversary festivities.

Marijuana and Alcohol Vending Machines?


Young adults love their technology. If something can be done one way, it most certainly can be done in an easier, more efficient way. You can now walk into store and buy things just by tapping your smartphone. All our information can be stored into these little devices with biometric safeguards to prevent fraud and such. This is a young person's world and they do not want the hassle of what they perceive to be unnecessary steps, like signatures and paper money. But as we trudge headlong into the future, there should be some oversight regarding what it is that can be purchased with little thought and relative ease. Things like prescription drugs, marijuana and alcohol. Right?

If you have been to an airport in the last several years, there is a good chance that you strolled past automated kiosks on your way to the gate that sell anything from lotion to iPods. While the prices are usually outrageous, some will pay to get their hands on something they left at home. The vending machines are novel devices that are essentially a one stop shop for just about any gadget or toiletry you can think of, and maybe pretty soon things that you would have never imagined finding in a vending machine. They don’t just exist in airports you can find them in malls and even casinos.

There are some young men and women today who began smoking at a young age. There is a good chance, depending on which state you grew up in, that you remember cigarette machines that were ideal for acquiring tobacco without an ID. If you knew where one was, then you may have looked at it as a godsend. If you are still smoking today, however, you might have a different view. Which is why we thought it valuable to discuss a world where you could buy marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs via automated kiosks.

Marijuana Green Machine

In most of the United States people have access to medical marijuana. A number of states have also legalized recreational use for adults. There are scores of dispensaries around the country where you can acquire the drug. However, there is a chance that some states will loosen the restrictions on acceptable places to acquire marijuana, and not just marijuana, but alcohol and pharmaceuticals as well.

An Arizona medical-cannabis technology company created a prototype vending machine that may be selling age-restricted items around the country in the future, USA Today reports. The devices would use biometric verification technology to determine that purchasers are of age or have prescriptions for certain drugs. At American Green, Chief Operating Officer Stephen Shearin believes that the machines would be ideal for both casinos and drug stores.

However, it is hard to imagine any scenario when placing marijuana, prescription drugs and alcohol in one place is a good idea. It is worth noting that alcohol, marijuana and pharmaceuticals can be dangerous on their own. Giving people the ability to acquire them all with only digital safeguards seems quite risky.

Cross-Drug Use

On top of the fact that drugs and alcohol are addictive, mixing them can have serious repercussions, if done on a regular basis. The human body, and the organs responsible for filtering and metabolizing the substances, can only do some much. When the organs are overloaded, damage usually occurs that can affect people for the rest of their lives.

Young men and women already are apt to make reckless decisions, it would seem that adult vice vending machines are a recipe for disaster, disguised as a convenient one stop shop. Drugs and alcohol are not safe, mixing them together can be pave the way to addiction, mixing too much of one or the other can result in premature death.

It is also worth noting that many young adults get on the pernicious road towards addiction by way of alcohol and marijuana. Do we really need vending machines to help them along such a precarious path?

Going forward…

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of young adults (18-30). This age group greatly benefits from evidence based treatment tailored to their unique needs. We have a multi-pronged approach to our men's addiction treatment program and philosophy because we understand that our clients are complex beings and they make complex choices. We invite your inquiries, should you feel you or your young adult son is in need of treatment.

Resentment: The Crux of Addiction Recovery


Nobody walks into the rooms of recovery with an un-checkered past. Everyone, even those not working a program of addiction recovery, has done things to others that they regret; and conversely been affected by other people's actions to the point of anger and resentment. How one is affected by the efforts of others can dramatically shape your future, impacting how one interacts with others. Sometimes anger can lead to lessons learned and moving forward, a vow to never put oneself in a position to be treated in that way again. Other times, feelings about perceived treatment can linger in toxic ways, forcing one to close oneself off from others or lashing out in irrational ways for extended periods of time.

There isn’t just one way to process anger and resentment, but some ways are healthier than others—to be sure. Whether you are new to addiction recovery, or have been in the rooms for decades, it is absolutely vital that you keep those feelings in check. When compared to said “normal” people, there is a big difference between what happens to people in recovery who hold on to resentments. Even a strong program can be eroded from underneath by the corrosive effects of anger and resentment, failing to keep such feelings in check can have disastrous consequences. There is a good reason for 12-Step meeting houses hanging banners that say, ‘Resentment is the "number one" offender’ from chapter 5 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Ever reminding members that holding on to such things is a slippery slope to relapse.

Letting Go of Resentment

Most addicts and alcoholics have a Ph.D. in holding on to stuff. It is so easy to convince oneself that our problems are not of our own. That somebody else made the bed and now you have to sleep in it. One tries to stuff the perceived wrongdoing deep down into the cavities of one’s mind, but inevitably the feelings will bubble to the surface to be re-lived again. Someone in active addiction will dull such feelings, or attempt to, with drugs or alcohol—and thus perpetuating the cycle of the disease. It is for such reasons that much emphasis in early recovery is placed on addressing one’s anger towards those of one’s past. The Fourth Step is dedicated to first establishing just what we are upset about, so that we can then do something about freeing yourself from it down the road.

In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases, it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So, we were sore. We were ‘burned up.’

Therein lies the crux of anger, and addressing it in recovery. What was my role? Certainly, there are times when people hurt us without cause, and one has a legitimate right to be bothered. But if you fail to let it go, the feeling only hurts you. It’s is often said that resentment is like drinking poison, hoping someone else dies. But they don’t, the alcoholic and addict is the one that pays the price.

Recovery Is A Process

With a clear mind, looking back on where you believed you were wronged almost always reveals that you had a part in the pain felt. Where you once believed that somebody did you wrong, it was actually you that owes an amends. But that comes a little later on in working the steps, to be made at a time that is decided when working with a sponsor.

There will be times that you will struggle to see the value in establishing what you are resentful about and why, especially early on in recovery. Most newcomers avoid the Fourth Step like the plague, and typically not for the reason one would think. It is usually the re-feeling (resent comes from the French word sentir which means to feel) of pain that makes people eschew this most important step, it is that deep down and if one is honest with themselves they come to realize that they are not usually the actual victim in the narrative of reality at the end of the day. But if one fails to act on such realizations, and chooses to ignore it, relapse is usually inevitable.

It may take some time for you to see the value of letting go of anger, but if you are willing to follow direction and take certain steps as people have for almost a century, recovery is possible and with it limitless possibilities. Below is part of a quote relevant to this topic, from the end of a movie, The Upside of Anger:

Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That's what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It's real, though - the fury, even when it isn't. It can change you... turn you... mold you and shape you into something you're not. The only upside to anger, then... is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they're not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm.

Mental Health Disorders Feel Like…

mental health disorders

A few weeks ago we wrote about the global problem of depression, a serious mental health disorder that plagues more that 300 million people worldwide. With such a high prevalence of depression, the leading cause of poor health and disability around the word, one would hope that nations would place treating mental illness at the top of their list. Unfortunately, as with any form of mental illness, only a small percentage of those suffering ever receive any help. It cannot be stressed enough that untreated mental health disorders can, and often are a death sentence; such people are at high risk of committing suicide or using mind-altering substances to dull the pain. Either way, the outcome is rarely good.

Even in the most developed nations of the West, those impacted by mental health conditions like addiction, depression and bipolar disorder struggle to get assistance. In many cases, it is not for a lack of trying—or wanting help. As we mentioned back towards the beginning of April, the World Health Organization (WHO) was in the midst of a year-long campaign to encourage people to talk about their depression. Sometimes talking about an issue can strengthen one’s resolve to seek help, and begin the journey of recovery. And everyone, in our society, has a vested interest in encouraging a serious discussion about mental health. Not only will it help to wear down that persistent stigma of mental health disorders, one the biggest obstacles between the afflicted and treatment, it will make Society healthier as a whole.

Problems left unchecked in an individual, have a way of becoming everyone’s problem. The costs of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness are staggering—the human cost is even more troubling. Treatment is out there, it is up to us all to encourage people to view mental illness as they would any chronic health condition, as you would say diabetes. The longer that goes unrealized, lives will continue to be needlessly lost. In addition to WHO’s year-long, Depression: Let’s Talk, campaign—the organization Mental Health America (MHA) is doing their part as well.

Mental Health Month 2017

Going back to 1909, if you can believe that, Mental Health America has been committed to addressing the needs of people affected by any one of the many forms of mental illness. The nation's leading community-based nonprofit in the field, seeks to promote the overall mental health of everyone.

This time every year, the month of May, MHA asks that individuals and organizations observe Mental Health Month (sometimes called Mental Health Awareness Month). The theme this year is Risky Business, and the goal is to “educate people about habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves.”

Individuals who have been touched by mental illness are being asked to share what it is like to live with a mental health disorder. In doing so, you can send a clear message to those whose illness has gone untreated that they are not alone. That others too understand what it is like living in a society that views mental illness with suspicion. And that treatment is not only available, it can drastically improve the quality of one’s life. There isn’t any cure for mental illness, but it can be managed with medications and therapy. There are those, too, who may not be aware that that how they are feeling is symptomatic of a mental health disorder, sharing what It is like could encourage them to get screened.

If you would like to have a role in helping others, MHA asks that you take to social media using the #mentalillnessfeelslike Organizations interested in hosting an event can access information here.

Addiction From Untreated Mental Health Disorders

People with mental health disorders, as we have mentioned, do not seek help for several reasons. In many ways spurning treatment is an aspect of one’s disease. Naturally, there are inherent risks in eschewing help, such as self-medicating one’s illness. Individuals often turn to drugs and alcohol to mitigate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The behavior persists because at first the substances make them feel a little better. But over time it becomes harder and harder to achieve the desired relief. What’s more, a substance use disorder is commonly the end result of self-medicating mental health disorders.

What once eased one’s mind, actually ends up making the symptoms of mental illness worse. This is what is called a co-occurring disorder, two illness’ feeding off each other at the expense of their host. It is not uncommon for people with untreated co-occurring mental health disorders to resort to drastic measures such a suicide. Once again highlighting the importance of screening and treatment.

If any of what you have read in this post has resonated inside you, or your story is one of untreated addiction and co-occurring illness—please note that with such conditions, time is rarely a luxury one can afford. With diseases of the mind, the symptoms are progressive. Please contact PACE Recovery Center.

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