Alcohol and drug addiction does not discriminate. While most people associate the “gutter-bum drunk” image when they hear the word alcoholic, or the homeless criminal when they hear drug addict, the truth is this disease affects all walks of life.
No matter our race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, age, or social class, this disease views us all as equal. The Third Tradition recognizes the universal nature of addiction by allowing all to join, no matter who they are, so long as they have the desire to stop drinking.
“3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
-Alcoholics Anonymous, page 562
The power of the Third Tradition is often apparent to the newcomer as soon as he or she walks into their first meeting. The majority of meetings are often comprised of people who would not ordinarily mix. Often times the newcomer may look around the room, and immediately become suspicious that they could never possibly have anything in common with the other people.
This notion, however, is usually shattered as soon as they hear the other members of the meeting share. Alcoholism and addiction, plus the characteristics of the alcoholic/addict, vary only in the minute details between us. Therefore, we can typically always find something we relate to when another alcoholic/addict shares.
“You are an A.A. member if you say so. You can declare yourself in; nobody can keep you out. No matter who you are, no matter how low you’ve gone… we still can’t deny you A.A.”
-Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 139
Today, the growing majority of people entering recovery are dual-addicted, meaning they harbor an addiction to multiple drugs and/or alcohol. This does not, however, prevent them from joining Alcoholics Anonymous or other fellowships because of the Third Tradition. While some people may have been primarily heroin addicts, for example, they may still choose to join the fellowship so long as they have the desire to stop drinking.
We have come to realize that distinguishing drugs and alcohol can often be dangerous, for they are all equally as fatal to us. Since Alcoholics Anonymous is the oldest and largest twelve-step program, it often is the only fellowship available in many areas. The Third Tradition thus protects those seeing to achieve long-term sobriety, but who are dual-addicted.
The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and the twelve-step program adopted by so many other fellowships, Bill W, was an incredibly successful stockbroker. His alcoholism, however, broke him down no differently than any other man or woman.
This is the simple reality of alcoholism and drug addiction. No matter who we are, the disease treats us all equally and does not discriminate. Tradition Three ensures that all who want to join the fellowship can do so, so long as they have a desire to quit drinking.
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.