The most effective resources in early addiction recovery are relational — qualified therapy, peer and family support, connecting with a Higher Power — and informational – like A.A. approved literature. This literature is endorsed by Alcoholics Anonymous because it falls in line with the program’s 12 Steps and 12 Traditions.
While other texts may bring in specific religions, philosophies or dividing ideologies that detract from the overall purpose of A.A. literature, these do not. Instead, approved works further the mission of A.A.: to help alcoholics to understand alcoholism, relate to the text, learn how to work the spiritual program of A.A. and maintain sobriety for a lifetime. Read on to learn more about A.A. approved literature.
Alcoholics Anonymous Publications
Alcoholics Anonymous, the oldest ongoing recovery-support organization, has a 64–page multilingual catalog of “conference-approved literature and other A.A. material” recommended for use in meetings and step work. Here’s a list of AA Approved Literature:
The Big Book. First published in 1939, this “Basic Text for Alcoholics Anonymous” is now in its fourth (2001) edition. It comprises nearly 600 pages covering the history of A.A., the disease of alcoholism explained, testimonies from members and comprehensive details on the spiritual program and practice plus chapters for family, spouses and employers of alcoholics.
The Big Book is notable because it serves as the foundation for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was originally written to affordably pass the message of A.A. to those in need; today, it is commonly used within meetings and recovery programs nationwide. This text provides the groundwork for 12-Step recovery, including the steps themselves.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Another A.A. classic (in print since the 1950s), this book provides a detailed overview for practical application of the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions (guiding principles for individual groups and the larger organization).
Experience, Strength and Hope: Stories from the First Three Editions of Alcoholics Anonymous. An anthology of personal-experience stories “retired” from the Big Book. These tales existed in previous editions of the Big Book – they have since been replaced by stories that today’s readers find more relatable. This text is commonly used to illustrate the impact of addiction throughout history, in discussion settings and through individual study.
Our Great Responsibility: A Selection of Bill W.’s General Service Conference Talks, 1951–1970. Comprises the text from sixteen talks given by one of A.A.’s original founders. Notable aspects of these talks include the development (and growth) of Alcoholics Anonymous, the role of a Higher Power and the primary purpose of the program.
Daily Reflections. A devotional-style “book of reflections by A.A. members for A.A. members.” This text is commonly used each day by members during their meditation (or 11th Step practice). It provides reminders of the baffling power of this disease, along with daily spiritual solutions that members can turn to in times of need. This text is also used to guide discussion-style A.A. meetings on specific topics.
Questions and Answers on Sponsorship.Covers over 30 questions divided into three categories: For the Person Seeking a Sponsor; For the Person Wanting to Be a Sponsor; and For Groups Planning Sponsorship Activity. In A.A., a common saying is, “my sponsor has a sponsor.” This represents the fact that in the event that a sponsee’s question is beyond their sponsor’s expertise, that person can then ask their own sponsor (who can reach out to theirs, and so on). Members typically have a sponsor family, which serves to pass wisdom and spiritual solutions through generations. This original text lays the foundation for this system.
The A.A. Group … Where It All Begins.Defines the basics of an individual A.A. group, including guidelines for starting and running one. Also includes a section on “The A.A. Group’s Relations with Others [other organizations] in the Community.”
As Bill Sees It: The A.A. Way of Life. Selected readings from an A.A. cofounder, drawn from the Big Book and other sources.This text is also used to guide discussion-style AA meetings on a topic.
Living Sober. A collection of practical tips (including a Q & A section) on long-term alcohol-free living, from those who have walked the path out of the alcoholic life. It can also serve as a jumping-off point for discussion-style 12 Step meetings.
Access to A.A.: Members Share on Overcoming Barriers. Stories from A.A. members living with physical and/or mental disabilities as well as a substance use disorder. This text can serve as the basis for 12-Step discussions.
Other A.A. Literature: Recommended Reading
While A.A.’s General Service Conference reserves official “approved literature” status for materials published by the A.A. World Service, many individual Anonymous chapters include additional literature of their own choosing in their programs. Here are two of the most widely used resources.
Twenty-Four Hours a Day. Often called the “little black book” of sober living, this meditations anthology from Hazelden Publishing has been in print since 1954. Hazelden is currently compiling two additional “daily meditations” books: Leave No One Behind: Daily Meditations for Service Members and Veterans in Recovery and How We Heal: Meditations for Reclaiming Our Voices from Addiction and Sexual Trauma.
Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects: Steps Six and Seven. Written by three Alcoholics Anonymous members and published by Hazelden, this book is for people who struggle with moving from Step 5 (“We admitted … the exact nature of our wrongs”) into and through Steps 6 (“We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”) and 7 (“We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings”). Many individuals struggle with the ambiguity of these steps and exactly how to do them. Because of this, members of A.A. created Drop the Rock to provide more detail, context and exercises.
A Place for Learning and Sharing
Maintaining healthy long-term sobriety requires more than knowledge drawn from literature (or documentaries or podcasts or social media groups): it requires active human support and a personal grasp of spiritual values. If you’re struggling to stay free from addiction, the Still Waters immersive residential program can help. Contact us with your questions.