Useful Tools

1st Step Meeting Guidelines

As a Group, members should adopt a 1st Step Meeting format that effectively gives the right information to suffering alcoholics/addicts. We have found that eliminating the differences and focusing on the symptoms that every alcoholic/addict experiences is the best way to help the Alcoholic/Addict identify whether or not they are suffering from the disease of alcoholism. Directions below come right out of the Big Book. We suggest to you do some homework and find them In the book.

First Step Meeting Guidelines – No one is allowed who doesn’t know what they are talking about.  Meet your man or woman alone if possible.

First Step Coordinator should understand Chapter 7 completely and should have worked the steps and continuing working the steps. The person should be a recovered alcoholic But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution (worked the step), who is properly armed with facts about himself (the symptoms of every alcoholic), 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.

That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing what­ever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, 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. Pg 18


Do not approach a man or woman who is drunk or had been drinking. Wait for a lucid interval.

Do not talk about the quantities, the brand, or how often you drank. Do Not Tell War Stories!

Don’t start out as an evangelist or reformer. Do not lead with GOD , Jesus Christ etc, Don’t raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are. When dealing with such a person, you had better use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions.  You would be talking to a Doctor differently than you would be talking to a gang banger, high school dropout, et.

….ask him if he wants to quit for good and if he would go to any extreme to do so. If he says yes, then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered. Pg 90


  1. See your man alone, or with a protégé who is learning but keeps his mouth shut.
  2. At first engage in general conversation. Find out all you can about him.
  3. After a while, turn the talk to some phase of drinking focusing on the symptoms
  4. Tell him enough about your drinking habits, symptoms, (What happens when you put the first drink in your body – allergy) (Describe the insanity of the first Drink) and experiences to encour­age him to speak of himself.
  5. If he wishes to talk, let him do so. You will thus get a better idea of how you ought to proceed. If he is not communicative, give him a sketch of your drinking career up to the time you quit. But say nothing, for the moment, of how that was accomplished. If he is in a serious mood dwell on the troubles liquor has caused you, being careful not to moralize or lecture. If his mood is light, tell him humorous stories of your escapades. Get him to tell some of his. 
  6. When he sees you know all about the drinking game, commence to describe yourself as an alcoholic.
  7. Tell him how baffled you were, how you finally learned that you were sick. Give him an account of the struggles you made to stop but were unable to stay stop. Show him the mental twist (insanity) which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism. If he is
    alcoholic, he will understand you at once. He will match your mental inconsisten­cies with some of his own.  (Pg 34 – Baffling means the inability to leave it alone no matter how great the necessity or the wish.)
  8. If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, begin to dwell on the hopeless (EVERY EFFORT TO STOP DRINKING AND STAYING STOP FAILS) feature of the malady (will Power, Fear, Self Knowledge) don’t work to stop an alcoholic from putting the first drink in their body. Show him, from your own experience, how the queer mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power.
  9. Explain that the unmanageability is of the spirit: restless, irritable, discontent… guilt, shame, remorse, self pity. We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emo­tional natures, we were a prey to misery and depres­sion, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, and we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people. Pg 52  (use everyday language)
  10. If he sticks to the idea that he can still control his drinking, tell him that possibly he can—if he is not too alcoholic. But insist that if he is severely afflicted, there may be little chance he can recover by himself

Continue to speak of alcoholism as an illness, a fatal malady (progressive, fatal disease). Talk about the conditions of body and mind (PHYSICAL ALLERGY, MENTAL OBSESSION, and INSANITY OF THE FIRST DRINK) which accompany it. Keep his attention focused mainly on your personal experience. Explain that many are doomed who never realize their predicament.

But you may talk to him about the hopelessness (EVERY EFFORT TO STOP DRINKING AND STAYING
STOP FAILS) of alcoholism because you offer a solution. You will soon have your friend admitting (YOU HAVE TO ASK QUESTIONS) he has many, if not all, of the traits of the real alcoholic. (Ask Him to give examples of the symptoms)

If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experi­ence will conquer.

Explain the Fellowship: Are the people in the program

Explain what meetings are for: A place for newcomers to find an answer to their drinking problem.

 Explain the steps: Layout the spiritual tools for inspection. Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery.

Big Book Summary

BIG BOOK SUMMARY                          

TITLE PAGE tells us that this is the story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered (or returned to health) from alcoholism.

Next is The PREFACE  It states this is the basic text for AA – so we will be studying this as a text book not reading it like a novel , It also states there exists a strong sentiment against any radical changes being made in the program portion of the book

FORWARD TO THE FIRST EDITION Tells us what we recover from – A hopeless state of mind and body. It also tells us the main purpose of the book is to show us precisely how recover from alcoholism.

FORWARD TO THE SECOND EDITION Gives a brief history of AA and tells us that the founders, who followed the directions in Working With Others, had that 50% success rate with new people who worked the program precisely the way it is laid out in the book. And another, 25% after relapse

FORWARD TO THE THIRD & FOURTH EDITIONS Updates the ever increasing number of AA’s and their groups

THE DOCTOR’S OPINION which is Written by Dr. William D. Silkworth whom worked with 40 to 50,000 Alcoholics. Dr. Silkworth describes the Allergy… after an alcoholic takes a drink, for whatever insane reason, the phenomenon craving at once becomes more important than anything else.  After the first drink, alcoholics are not drinking to escape; they are drinking to overcome a crav­ing beyond their mental control. He says an alcoholic cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. Dr. Silkworth states unless an Alcoholic can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of recovery and he feels that something more than human power is needed to pro­duce the essential psychic change.

CHAPTER 1  is BILL’S STORY.  His story describes the progression of his disease, the mental obsession, the physical allergy, and the efforts he made to stop. Bill is absolutely unable to stop drinking using his will power, fear or self knowledge. Bill understands he is insane when it come to the first drink. Bill knows he is powerless and alcohol is his master. Bill Meets Dr. Silkworth and learns of the hopeless state of mind and body, the disease of alcoholism… the mental Obsession, Physical allergy.  Ebby, Bill’s old drinking buddy visits Bill and tells him of the spiritual solution. Bill works the steps in 2 days and has a Spiritual Experience.

CHAPTER 2 – THERE IS A SOLUTION is a statement of fact – and that gives us hope. The solution we have to offer at Alcoholics Anonymous is a Spiritual Experience or Spiritual Awakening by taking the 12 Steps as outlined in this book. This chapter tells us the main problem of the alcoholic centers in the mind rather than his body. It describes the real alcoholic …an alcoholic may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink. It states; alcoholics are poweless,  have lost the power of choice in drinking.

Optional – APPENDIX II  Describes the difference between the Spiritual Experience (which is quick)  & Spiritual Awakening (which develops slower) … both as a result of taking the 12 Steps. It says that Both the S.E. & S.A. are the Personality Change (a profound alteration in our reaction to life), sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism. Any Alcoholic who can be Honest, Open minded and Willing CAN Recover

CHAPTER 3 – MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every alcoholic. The persistence of this illusion (that you’re not alcoholic) is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. It says; We learned that we had to fully concede to our in­nermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery.  The delusion we are not alcoholic, has to be smashed. It says alcoholics we have lost the ability to control their drinking.  Over any period of time an alcoholic gets worse, never better. It states the Crux, or crucial point, of our problem is our mental state, our Thinking or the insanity that leads to taking the 1st drink. Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Ex­cept in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.

Gives us a test for : 1) Physical Allergy Bottom of Page 32 –Top of  Page 33 – step over to the nearest barroom try some controlled drinking. 2) Mental Obsession – Top of Page 34– try leaving all mind-altering substances alone for 1 year.

CHAPTER 4 – WE AGNOSTICS  Tells us that Lack of Power was our dilemma or problem and Alcohol or Drugs are just a symptoms. It says we did not need to consider another’s conception of God.  Our own conception, however inadequate, is good enough to make a beginning. Step 2 on pg. 47 asks us, Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe that there is a Power greater than myself. As soon as a man or woman can say that he or she does believe, or is even willing to believe, we emphatically assure them that they are on their way. On pg. 55 it says we all have the fundamental idea of God already inside us, but that were blocked from it.

CHAPTER 5 – HOW IT WORKS Has the 12 Steps written out on pgs. 58, 59 & 60. On Page 62 it tells us that we are driven by 100 forms fear, self delusion, self seeking and self pity and that Selfishness & Self centeredness is the root of our troubles. Step 3 is on pg. 63 which is an unselfish prayer, asking God to remove our difficulties so that we can help others.  Step 4 instructions are on pages 64-71, where we take a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, and find out the things in ourselves which had been blocking us from our Higher Power

CHAPTER 6 – INTO ACTION Contains Step 5 where we admit to God, ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Step 6 is on 76 asks are we now ready to let God our character defects.  Step 7 Instructions are on pages 66, 67, 68 and the seventh step prayer is on page 76 where we ask God to remove every single defect of character. Steps 8 & 9 instructions are on pages 76-84, and tells us who and how to go to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past.  Step 10 instructions are on page  84 and gives 4 specific instructions on how we CONTINUE TO GROW SPIRITUALLY while gaining understanding and effectiveness utilizing the steps in our life.  Step 11 instructions are on pages 85-88 and gives us specific spiritual directions on what to do at night, in the morning and throughout our day.

CHAPTER 7 – WORKING WITH OTHERS  States, Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.   Gives many suggestions on how to find & approach and what to talk about with the suffering alcoholic

CHAPTER 8 – TO WIVES  Written for the significant other of the alcoholic.  It gives instructions on how to present the information in the book to the suffering Alcoholic and suggests the S.O. read the entire book and work the steps

CHAPTER 9 – THE FAMILY AFTERWARDS  Gives suggestions to the family about what to expect, and how to work with the newly recovering alcoholic after they return home.  Suggests the family read the entire book and live by spiritual principals

CHAPTER 10 – TO EMPLOYERS  Gives suggestions to employers on how approach and what to talk about with the suffering alcoholic.   Suggests employers read the entire book.  Says if the alcoholic won’t accept help, the employer should fire him

CHAPTER 11 – A VISION FOR YOU Tells us that the substitute for our old alcoholic life is the Fellowship in AA.  It says the best years of our lives are ahead of us and also gives a brief history of how AA started.

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