What The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous Means And Why Participants Must Follow Them

The 12 Traditions of the Alcoholics Anonymous Guide helps the reputed and famous support groups remain focused on their goal. It first mentioned the 12 Traditions of AA in the first edition of the ‘Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939. In 1946, Bill Wilson, co-founder of the group, published ’12 Points to Reassure Our Future’. The book ‘12 Steps and 12 Traditions’ was published in 1953.

Let’s take a closer look at the 12 steps of AA and try to decipher the message behind each one of them.

Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.

People may try to kick the addiction on their own, but they are less likely to succeed. Their efforts are more likely to bear fruits if they work with a support group. Tradition 1 of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous ensures cohesion and listens to all voices within the group. While everyone will have their own opinion, all members must accept the majority opinion and work towards achieving that goal.

There is but one ultimate authority for our group purpose – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

This Tradition ensures that no single person is asserting any authority over the group. There is no individual governance or management based on education or subject expertise. The group leaders are there to provide guidance and not to make decisions. 

The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.

Tradition three aims at protecting members from any external influences affecting their resolve to stop drinking. Membership is open to all those who have a relative or a friend with an addiction issue. 

Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.

This 12 Tradition of AA offers individual groups the freedom to host their meetings based on their needs and convenience. However, this freedom comes with certain limitations. The group must not move away from the basic tenets and must follow the core principles of the AA.

Each group has but one primary purpose: to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

The primary aim of each group is to make sure that its message reaches those who are suffering. In addition, the group must provide comfort and support to the member at every stage of the journey to recovery. Finally, by sharing the experiences and the hope they found within the 12 steps of AA, they can keep others motivated.

Our groups should never endorse, finance, or lend our name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest money, property, and prestige problems divert us from our primary purpose.

Of the 12 Traditions of AA, tradition six aims to preserve the truthfulness of the program. This is done by preventing groups from supporting or promoting any external agency or organization. Of course, members are not restricted from connecting with any outside agency or party in their capacity. But when they are in a group, they must follow the traditions and ideals of AA.

Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

It is entirely voluntary for every member to contribute to the basket to support AA financially. Tradition 7 cautions from accepting outside contributions. Every member must become self-supporting and contribute as per their wish. 

Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

Tradition 8 states that contributions must be used for support services. The group can provide mutual support but remain non-professional. Of course, professionals such as doctors and CAs can be part of the group, but they must not use those affiliations. A newcomer to the group must be welcomed free of charge.  

AA, as such, ought never to be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

The group works in a non-professional manner without any signs of being organized. There is no hierarchy, and no one is authorized to direct the group. Instead, the group as a whole makes decisions through a process of a conscience vote.

Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.

AA members are expected not to express opinions on politics, religion, or reforms to avoid getting caught in any controversy. In addition, AA is not allied with any sect or religion and operates as a neutral body.

Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.

Tradition 11 of the 12 Steps of AA relates to public relations policy and the need to retain anonymity in the media. Members can discuss the benefits of AA, but they should not name the recovery group.

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.

The offer of anonymity to participants is the hallmark of the AA program. So naturally, therefore, it must maintain personal anonymity at all levels.

These 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous help you take care of people at every stage of their recovery journey.

These 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous form the core of all AA meetings. To know where the next AA meeting will be held in your locality, visit our AA Meeting Directory.