THE A.A. TRADITION
Therefore, no society of men and women ever had a more urgent need for continuous effectiveness and permanent unity. We alcoholics see that we must work together and hang together, else most of us will finally die alone.
The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous are, we A.A.s believe, the best answers that our experience has yet given to those ever-urgent questions, How can A.A. best function? and, How can A.A. best stay whole and so survive?
On the next page, A.A.s 12 Traditions are seen in their so-called short form, the form in general use today. This is a condensed version of the original long form A.A. Traditions as first printed in 1946. Because the long form is more explicit and of possible historic value, it is also reproduced.
The Twelve Traditions
OneOur common welfare should come first; personal
recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
The Twelve Traditions
Our A.A. experience has taught us that:
2.For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authoritya loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.
3.Our membership ought to include all who suffer
from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought
A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three
alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A.
group, provided that, as a group, they have no other
4.With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.
5.Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purposethat of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
6.Problems of money, property, and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. We think, therefore, that any considerable property of genuine use to A.A. should be separately incorporated and managed, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. An A.A. group, as such, should never go into business. Secondary aids to A.A., such as clubs or hospitals which require much property or administration, ought to be incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the A.A. name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them. For clubs, A.A. managers are usually preferred. But hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation, ought to be well outside A.A.and medically supervised. While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.
7.The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported
by the voluntary contributions of their own mem-
8.Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. 12 Step work is never to be paid for.
9.Each A.A. group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is the best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee, and the groups of a large metropolitan area their central or intergroup committee, which often employs a full-time secretary. The trustees of the General Service Board are, in effect, our A.A. General Service Committee. They are the custodians of our A.A. Tradition and the receivers of voluntary A.A. contributions by which we maintain our A.A. General Service Office at New York. They are authorized by the groups to handle our over-all public relations and they guarantee the integrity of our principal newspaper, the A.A. Grapevine. All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for true leaders in A.A. are but trusted and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern. Universal respect is the key to their usefulness.
10.No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issuesparticularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.
11.Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.
12.And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.