the AA triangle symbol in orange next to a group in recovery

The key to long-term sobriety is finding a balance within all aspects that the program has to offer. The importance of the concept of balance was not lost on the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The founders chose a triangle for the symbol of the fellowship to represent the three key legacies in which those in the program strive to find a balance of: Unity, Service, and Recovery. To this day, the alcoholics anonymous triangle (commonly referred to as the AA triangle) is synonymous with the tens of thousands of Americans who have gone through treatment.

These three key legacies are found written on the cover of most AA literature, and even on the back of anniversary coins. Here we discuss the meaning of the three legacies that make up the alcoholics anonymous symbol, and how they can be incorporated into long-term sobriety.


aa triangle

AA Triangle

Unity refers to the fellowship aspect of the program, primarily through attendance of meetings. Meetings are often providing newcomers with their very first introduction to the program. It is through meetings that a prospective newcomer can meet others in the program and begin to build a support group, of which is vital for long-term sobriety.

It is also through meetings that a prospective newcomer can meet a sponsor who will guide them through the program. Unity/fellowship, however, does not simply end at meetings. Rather, it extends far beyond them. Lifelong friendships ultimately are forged that have benefits far extending past just sobriety.


Recovery refers to the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The twelve steps provide the foundation for recovering from alcoholism/addiction, which is why Recovery is always written on the bottom of the triangle.

The steps teach us to trust a higher power, to address our character defects, to make amends, and then to pass the program along to a newcomer just as was done for us. It is through the twelve steps that we achieve a spiritual awakening from a seemingly hopeless state.

True Recovery


The final corner of the AA triangle is service work to the fellowship. This can be accomplished whether you have one day or fifty years of service. Service work can be as simple as setting up chairs before a meeting, making the coffee, or helping to clean up after. Once one has been through the twelve steps, service work can include sponsoring newcomers and taking them through the steps.

Other forms of service work include speaking at meetings, chairing meetings, getting involved in committees, and countless other opportunities. An often repeated saying in the rooms is that “we can only keep what has been so freely given to us if we give it away”, which stands as a lesson to the importance of service work in maintaining long-term sobriety.

Final Note

While it is impossible to maintain a perfect balance between the three legacies of Alcoholic’s Anonymous, it is what we strive for. These provide us with the greatest defense against picking up the next drink or drug and obtaining long-term sobriety.

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.