How I used the 'Big Book' to recover: some personal experiences and views of one individual. This is not an official twelve-step fellowship website. I do not speak for any twelve-step fellowship. The material is shared for fun and for free. If it helps, great! If it doesn't, don't worry about it!
Most people come to AA with their lives in a mess, and because their lives are in a mess.
This is not the 'unmanageability' that the book Alcoholics Anonymous talks about, however.
Two of the examples (Jim, page 35, and Fred, page 39) do not have messy lives at all, yet are alcoholics, and presumably are capable of honestly taking Step One.
Unmanageability is the corollary of powerlessness. If I cannot choose whether or not I will drink, what will happen if I do, and whether I ever stop, I cannot dictate the course of my life. I literally cannot manage it.
Now, if you cannot manage it (because you drink unexpectedly then cause problems because of the uncontrollability once you start), you are likely (but not bound) to end up with external chaos.
The external chaos is not the unmanageability. It is the consequence of the unmanageability.
Am I splitting hairs?
I do not think so.
Many people sort out the consequences of their unmanageability in AA, i.e. sort out their external lives. However, this can conceal the fact that the underlying problem of powerlessness has not yet been solved, and their lives are still unmanageable, because a restlessness, irritability, and discontentment (of which they may or may not be aware, because it is so familiar it is not even noticed) is still liable to pull rank and force the first drink (despite the ample history of catastrophic consequences), thus setting in motion the terrible cycle once more, a cycle that this time perhaps will not be stopped.
AA is about sorting out the underlying problem, the separation from God (and others, and our true selves). If that is sorted out, the externals will sort themselves out automatically.