Explore 164 (under construction)

These are a list of questions to act as a prompt when you read through the first 164 pages of the Big Book.  It is based on the 4th Edition, and starts at the absolute beginning which is the first forward.  I would suggest that you talk to your sponsor about your answers if your are a newcomer to this way of life.



1.  What is the main purpose of the book?

2.  What is the secondary purpose of the book?

3.  What is a general assurance for all people, whether alcoholic or not?

4.  What is meant by the use of the word avocation in the second paragraph?

5.  Per this forward, why is AA anonymous and how should it be protected?

6.  What descriptions of AA as an organization make it unconventional?

7.  What 3 types of societies does AA welcome inquiry from? 

8.  What sort of information would AA like to receive?



1.  What was the miracle described at the beginning of this forward?

2.  What relieved Bill of his obsession?

3.  What did Bill learn from Dr. Silkworth?

4.  What tenants did Bill receive and transmit from the Oxford Groups?

5.  In Bill’s first six months sober, working with other alcoholics, how many did he help gain sobriety?

6.  What helped Dr. Bob gain the willingness to pursue a spiritual remedy?

7.  What two ideas gained credibility when Dr. Bob was able to gain sobriety?

8.  When and where did the first AA group form?  

9.  Where did the second and third groups form?

10.  What was the motivation to publish the Big Book?

11.  What transition did the Big Book’s publication bring to the AA society?

12.  Name the four individuals and their contributions that caused AA to enter a period of mushrooming growth?

13.  What developed from the adolescent period of AA’s growth?  Why did they call it the adolescent period?

14.  What two principal reasons did public acceptance grow for AA during the adolescent phase?  What was another reason?

15.  What is the religious make-up of AA?

16.  What hopes and expectations were expressed in the final words of the forward?



1.  As of the printing of the third edition, what groups in growing in representation in AA?

2.  How does the basic program of AA work in other countries?

3.  What has not changed as a result of the great increase in size and span of the AA fellowship?



1.  What has played a major role in AA growth?

2.  In comparing the original fellowship of a few 100 with the fellowship of 2001, has there been any significant changes?

3.  What quote from page 17 has proven to be  a visionary statement?

4.  What is given as apart of some customs and practices within AA in response to sweeping changes in society as a whole?



1.  Who was the doctor who wrote the two letter’s in this section of the book?  What is his significance to AA?

2.  What was the purpose of the first letter?  the second letter?

3.  What is it that the doctor confirms and the alcoholic must believe?  Why must the alcoholic believe this?

4.  What is the doctor’s theory about the alcoholic’s physical relationship with alcohol?

5.  What does the doctor suggest for the alcoholic who is “jittery and befogged?”

6.  What did the doctor and his medical community who had worked long in the alcoholic field find amazing?

7.  What did the doctor say about the physical action of alcohol on chronic alcoholics?  Is this unique to alcoholics?

8.  What motivation encouraged the doctor to become more sentimental than scientifically objective, thus accepting and encouraging the AA movement?

9.  In your own words but based on the description given by the doctor, describe an alcoholic’s life before and after experiencing a psychic change?

10.  What idea does the doctor refute concerning the alcoholic’s mental control?

11.  What are some of the types of alcoholics the doctor mentions?  (give a short description of each one in your own words).

12.  What is the one symptom they all have in common?

13.  What is the only relief the medical community can give to the alcoholic?  Why?

14.  As to the debate about an alcoholic’s ability to control his drinking, what conclusion do most doctors come to about the chronic alcoholic?

15.  Describe the two experiences the doctor offers as an example of a real solution?

16.  What do the following phrases mean?  Psychic change.  Alcoholic allergy.  Altruistic movement.  Moral psychology.

17.  What is the big “so what” if this section of the book?  (Hint: disease concept)


Chapter 1: BILL’S STORY

1. Can you relate to Bill talking about that during the good times of initial use, he saw some signs that alcohol might not be the powerful and loving friend it seems to be, but then discarding those signs? What where some of Bill’s initial hopes and dreams that where empowered by his alcoholic bravado? Did using a mind altering substances cause you to dream big for yourself? What were some of Bill’s character defects he demonstrated in his early days of drinking? [Pages 1-3]

2. What helped accelerate Bill’s disease to daily and almost every night drinking? Do you relate with becoming a lone wolf to support your alcoholism? Or to avoid the social conflict it produced? Do you relate to replacing social relationships with social image that makes you feel better? [Pages 3-4]

3. Have you ever drunken or used to face a crisis? [Page 4, 2nd Para]

4. What are some event were your drinking snatched defeat from victory? [Page 4, 3rd Para]

5. What are some of the major consequences Bill began to reap from his alcoholism? Do you relate? [Page 4-5]

6. What events lead Bill to a moment of sanity? Can you relate to making promises of abstinence from your drug of choice during such moments in your own life? [Page 5, Para 2-4]

7. At the bottom of Page 5, Bill is introduced to his utter powerlessness. What happened to introduce you to yours?

8. Can you relate to the fatalistic surrender once you knew you were powerless? Can you relate to struggling with suicidal thoughts?

9. What was the first piece of the solution puzzle did Bill get when he was hospitalized [Page 7]

10. Can you relate to achieving temporary relief from self-knowledge, as Bill did?

11. Have you seriously considered the tragic end your disease has in store for you, as Bill was forced to do at the bottom of page 7?

12. How was your jumping off point similar to Bill’s? [Page 8 Para 1-3]

13. The reality of a spiritual solution to this disease was introduced to Bill by an old friend and drinking buddy and is the second piece of the solution puzzle. How did it come to you?

14. Can you relate to having objections to religion that interfered with your spiritual pursuit?

15. What had been Bill’s assessment of spirituality on planet earth before recovery? Have you or do you also have a similar view? [Page11]

16. How did the reality that “God had done for others what they could not do for themselves” affect you?

17. What was the third piece of the solution that Bill’s friend introduced him to, that enabled Bill to overcome his intellectual prejudice?

18. As Bill considers his time at the Cathedral many years prior, he sees it as a spiritual crossroad. Can you look back to a spiritually significant event where ignoring this possible appearance of your Higher Power helped open the way for your disease?

19. What marked the end of Bill’s drinking career? When did it end?

20. Identify which steps Bill took on Page 13, by writing out his actions with the specific step. The 12 steps are listed on pages 59-60.

21. Bill’s friend gave him some promises if he continued this way of life, described at the bottom of Page 13, to the top of 14.

22. Bill calls God the “Father of lights” which is from the Christian New Testament, in James 1:17. If Bill had been raised in a Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim country, his reference to the Higher Power might have been different. What part of the solution allows this program to work, regardless of the religious context of the afflicted person?

23. On page 14, Bill describes the impact of his spiritual experience as “sudden and profound.” he qualifies that statement that God comes to most men gradually. On page 8, he described this experience as being catapulted into “the 4th dimension of existence.” Now read “The Spiritual Experience,” starting on page 567 and described two basic types of spiritual experiences.

– Starting on Page 328, read the story “Crossing the River of Denial.” She had a sudden experience. What step would you say she was on when it happened?

– Read “Flooded with Feeling” starting on page 369. What let this person know he had taken the 3rd step?

– Read “A Drunk, Like You” starting on page 398. He talks about a significant spiritual experience he almost missed because he was looking at everyone else’s experiences. What was it? What faith was he?

24. What is the fourth part of the solution puzzle and is absolutely necessary for long term survival from this disease?

25. At the end of his story, Bill describes what its like to have a fellowship grow up around you. What aspects of his description do you relate to?

 From here on, I am using a book entitled “Twelve Step Sponsorship – How It Works” by Hamilton B., which I highly recommend.  Very clearly written.



1.  Read Chapter 2, “There Is a Solution,” and Chapter 3, “More About Alcoholism.”

2.  Read “Step One” in the 12 & 12 (Pages 21-24)

3.  What does it mean to “admit” something?

4.  Why do you think the step says “We admitted” rather than “I admitted?”

5.  In the following definitions of power, which do you think is being discussed in this step?

A. ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.
B. political or national strength: the balance of power in Europe.
C. great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force.
D. the possession of control or command over others; authority; ascendancy: power over men’s minds.
E. political ascendancy or control in the government of a country, state, etc.: They attained power by overthrowing the legal government.
F. legal ability, capacity, or authority: the power of attorney.
G. delegated authority; authority granted to a person or persons in a particular office or capacity: the powers of the president.
H. a document or written statement conferring legal authority.
I. a person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence.

6.  What does the phrase “powerless over alcohol” mean?

7.  What does the concept that “our lives had become unmanageable” mean?

8.  The Big Book says, “Lack of power, that was our dilemma.”  It also says that “the idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.”  Power could then be described as the ability to enjoy controlled drinking.   Make a list of your specific examples of your powerlessness over alcohol.  How have you attempted to add control and enjoyment to your drinking or usage, and failed?

9.  When power is defined as the ability to control and enjoy something in our realm of influence, this list can be expanded to accept powerlessness over any person, place, thing or situation since our control can be challenged and our enjoyment is thus fragile.  Many get confused in the program when powerlessness is seen as a total denial of our abilities and impact, rather than recognizing the limits of our control and satisfaction in its exercise.  This list identifies the areas this spiritual program can assume power over.  Put it in a folder entitled “Plan A – Acceptance to overcome Denial, Willingness to Make Changes, Teachableness in the Recovery Program, Openness to the HP,  Maturity and Humility through Ego-deflation. 

10.  Make a list of specific examples of how your life has become unmanageable.  After you have exhausted this list from your own experience, underline the bottom of the list and write YET.  Then every time you hear a consequence that someone else has experienced that you have not, add it to your YET list.  Put this list in a folder entitled “Plan B – Continued experimentation with personal power to control and enjoy in spite the evidence I have already gathered or have yet to gather.”


STEP TWO:  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. [Hope]

1.  Read Chapter 4, “We Agnostics.”  Also read Appendix II on the “Spiritual Experience,” (Pages 567-568 of the Big Book)

2.  Read “Step Two” in the 12 & 12 (Pages 25 – 33)

3.  What does the phrase “Power greater than ourselves” mean?

4.  Talk about these defining parameters for this Power:  Beginning a search that can be taken piece-mill, Power must be greater than ourselves as individuals and thus we cannot be our own God, May be inadequate by our own or others standards and we do not have to consider another’s conception of God, requires only willingness to believe,  and it can be the recovery group itself, or you can “borrow” someone else’s concept if you believe that it is helping them.  [Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant ~ Touch the Elephant]

5.  As used in this step, what does the term “sanity” mean?

6.  Discuss the damaged bridge between the imagination and the interactive reality; the preference for living in isolated imagination; the need to truly live and test our concepts through life on life’s terms, in the interactive reality;  and the loneliness of living in fantasy.  Being restored to sanity is the process of being reconnected to this interactive reality.

7.  Why does the step say that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity rather than would restore us to sanity?  Remember the shovel and the mountain.

TAKING STEP TWO:  Are you convinced of the three pertinent ideas listed on Page 60 of the Big Book?  Do you believe that a Power greater than yourself can relieve your addiction and restore you to sanity (Page 47)? 


  • Ask the sponsee to pray or seek the Higher Power for willingness, if able.
  • Reread and continue discussion.
  • Return to Step One.
  • Try to identify and discuss the stumbling blocks.
  • Talk with other group members about how they worked this step.


STEP THREE:  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.  [Faith]

1.  Read Pages 60 – 64 in the Big Book. 

2.  Read “Step Three” in the 12 & 12 (Pages 34-41)

3.  What does the phrase “God as we understood [God]” mean?

4.  What is your concept of God or Higher Power?

  • What does your HP see when It-She-He looks at you?
  • What do you want your HP to see when It-She-He looks at you?
  • What do you not want your HP to see when It-She-He looks at you?
  • See Endigar 177 on establishing your concept of the Higher Power.

5.  What does it mean to turn “our will and lives over to the care of God”?

6.  What is the difference between a life run on self-will and a life that follows God’s will, however you understand God?  Use the page on the “Spiritual Proclamations of Step Three.”

7.  How well has self-will served you to this point?

8.  What is a recent example in your life of exercising self-will rather than following what you believe might be God’s will?

9.  How can you know God’s will?  Use the page “What is the Will of the Higher Power”.

10.  What reservations, if any, do you have about turning your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand God?

11.  What does it mean to “make a decision”?


  • Pray about the step, asking for guidance, courage, and willingness daily.
  • Reread and continue discussion.
  • Keep a list of examples of self-will and how they are hurting the sponsee.
  • Keep track of the times when the sponsee tries to follow God’s will and what that feels like.
  • Return to Step Two.
  • Talk with other group members about how they worked this step.


STEP FOUR:  Made a serching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

1.  Read pages 63 – 71 in the Big Book.

2.  Read “Step Four” in the 12 & 12 (42-54)

3.  What is an inventory and what is its purpose?

4.  Why does the AA Big Book suggest that the inventory be written?

5.  What format, strategy, or outline do you intend to use in writing your fourth step inventory?

6.  What is a resentment?  Why are resentments “the number one offender”?

7.  Pray daily to your Higher Power for courage and willingness to see yourself, remember your past, and then actually do whatever it takes to write a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.

  • It is fearless and thorough.
  • My resentments are listed and analyzed.
  • I have a list of my fears.
  • I have reviewed my sexual conduct looking for ways in which I have been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate, and I have identified those I have hurt.
  • I have described how each of the seven deadly sins listed in the 12 & 12 apply to me, including the sin of  grandiosity (self-will run riot).
  • I have included somewhere on the inventory all the people I have harmed and the behavior that caused the harm, concentrating on my side of the street only, and I understand which character defect was responsible for the harm.
  • I have listed my assets.
  • I have not kept any secrets.
  • I have not left anything important out of the inventory.

One Response to “Explore 164 (under construction)”

  1. So excited to find this. Please keep going with it!

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