The Big Book’s Answer to Relapse Prevention

The Big Book’s Answer to Relapse Prevention from Big Book Sponsorship

Our Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous promises us that “When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.”

Imagine three layers. The first layer is our bodily reaction to alcohol when we ingest it — the physical craving. Under that is the second layer: the insanity of the mind just before the first drink — the mental obsession. Under that is the third layer: the inward condition that triggers the second layer, which in turn triggers the first — the “spiritual malady.” Symptoms of this “third layer” as described in the Big Book include:

  1. being restless, irritable, and discontented (page xxvi),
  2. having trouble with personal relationships,
  3. not being able to control our emotional natures,
  4. being a prey to (or suffering from) misery and depression,
  5. not being able to make a living (or a happy and successful life),
  6. having feelings of uselessness,
  7. being full of fear,
  8. unhappiness,
  9. inability to be of real help to other people (page 52),
  10. being like “the actor who wants to run the whole show” (pages 60-61),
  11. being “driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity” (page 62),
  12. self-will run riot (page 62),
  13. leading a double life (page 73),
  14. living like a tornado running through the lives of others (page 82), and
  15. exhibiting selfish and inconsiderate habits.

These name just a few of the symptoms of the “spiritual malady” that’s described throughout our text. But still in all, these are just symptoms of the “spiritual malady.”

What is the driving force of these symptoms?

On page 62 the text explains that “Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.” This “SELFISHNESS-self-centeredness” (or the “ego”, as some people refer to it) drives us to respond to life situations with the above “symptoms” as well as disorders and addictions other than alcoholism.

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