Weekly Readings

SLAA Step Study using the Big Book

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Step 1

  • Week 1: Physical craving (2 readings) - see below

Week 1 Physical Craving

Portion/Reading 1

… we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete. The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy [abnormal reaction] to alcohol interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers, we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account. (The Doctor’s Opinion page).

We believe … that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all … (The Doctor’s Opinion Page xxviii – second paragraph).

Portion/Reading 2

Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol.The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks—drinks which they see others taking with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery. (Page xxviii – starts from the final paragraph).

Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have a good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone.

Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentall. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason- Ill health, falling in love change of environment or the warning of a doctor- becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention.

But what about the real alcoholic? He 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.

We are … positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly confirm this. (Page 22). - [ ] + Week 2: Mental obsession (2 readings)

Week 2 Mental Obsession

Portion/Reading 1

The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. (Page 30).

We now see that when we began to drink deliberately, instead of casually, there was little serious or effective thought during the period of premeditation of what the terrific consequences might be. (Page 37).

The alcoholic may say to himself in the most casual way, “It won’t burn me this time, so here’s how!’’ Or perhaps he doesn’t think at all. (Page 24).

This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it—this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish. (Page 34)

Not only had I been off guard, I had made no fight whatever against the first drink. This time I had not thought of the consequences at all. I had commenced to drink as carelessly as though the cocktails were ginger ale. 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. (Page 41).

Portion/Reading 2

These observations will be academic and pointless if our friend never took the first drink, thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore the main problem of the alcohol centers in his mind rather than in his body. (Page 23).

“Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk, it couldn’t hurt me on a full stomach. I ordered a whiskey and poured it into the milk. I vaguely sensed I was not being any too smart, but felt reassured as I was taking the whiskey on a full stomach. The experiment went so well, I ordered another whiskey and poured it into more milk. That didn’t seem to bother me so I tried another.”

Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim. Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and physical suffering which drinking always caused him. He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet all reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk!

This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it—this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish. (Page 34).

“I went to my hotel and leisurely dressed for dinner. As I crossed the threshold of the dining room, the thought came to mind that it would be nice to have a couple of cocktails with dinner. That was all. Nothing more. I ordered a cocktail and my meal. Then I ordered another cocktail. After dinner I decided to take a walk. When I returned to the hotel it struck me a highball would be fine before going to bed, so I stepped into the bar and had one. I remember having several more that night and plenty next morning. I have a shadowy recollection of being in an airplane bound for New York, and of finding a friendly taxicab driver at the landing field instead of my wife. The driver escorted me about for several days. I know little of where I went or what I said or did. Then came the hospital with unbearable mental and physical suffering.

Not only had I been off guard, I had made no fight whatever against the first drink. This time I had not thought of the consequences at all. I had commenced to drink as carelessly as though the cocktails were ginger ale. 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. (Page 41).

...what I learned of alcoholism did not occur to me at all. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots.

  • Week 3: Sex and love addicts are beyond human aid and Sex and love addiction is fatal, progressive, and incurable (2 readings) -

    Week 3 Sex and love addicts are beyond human aid; our condition fatal, progressive, and incurable