Twelve traditions

Twelve traditions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Twelve Traditions of twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and Crystal Meth Anonymous define the governing guidelines for relationships between the 12-step group and its members, other groups, the global fellowship, and society at large. Questions of finance, public relations, donations, and purpose are all addressed in the traditions clearly.


The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority--a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose--to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. 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.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.



The Traditions began as a series of articles that Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, wrote for the AA periodical The Grapevine. Over a period of about 5 years the membership of AA adopted these as the governing principles of the organization, culminating in their formal adoption at AA's First International Convention in 1950. In 1952 Wilson's book on the subject, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, first saw print. The latter half of this book consists of a series of tales detailing how the traditions were "hammered out on the anvil of experience." According to Wilson, they were born solely as lessons learned from mistakes made.

The Traditions are widely credited within AA as having provided the fellowship a practical, yet idealistic organizational framework that has served it well. In many ways, they contain revolutionary ideas of arenas of spirituality, political science and economic theory as applied to the lives of members.


The Traditions in Other 12-Step Programs

Other 12 Step Programs (for example, Nicotine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, and Nar-Anon) generally adapt and adopt the 12 Traditions within their fellowships as well. The historical experiences of AA meetings provided the grounds for learning which principles would provide unity within early AA; development and application of the twelve traditions contributed similar stability and unity to these new fellowships as they had provided in Alcoholics Anonymous. The Traditions themselves are generally modified only slightly from the AA version. Many other 12-Step Programs publish their own studies of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Narcotics Anonymous published It Works: How and Why as their study of the principles of The Traditions that keep meetings functioning, applying the particular experience and nature of the respective fellowships.


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