While the Twelve Steps are what keeps us sober, the Twelve Traditions keep the fellowship alive and well for the next newcomer. The Traditions were born out of the founders experience with trial and error in the early days of the fellowship. In eighty plus years of existence, the fellowship has managed to thrive and continue to grow each year, despite remaining leaderless, accepting no outside contributions, and without any sort of promotion.
The Traditions have laid the perfect blueprint for countless spinoff fellowships to Alcoholics Anonymous, and ensure their survival for years to come. Here, we will briefly break down each Tradition and what they mean.
“One – Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.”
Tradition One emphasizes the importance of the common welfare (the fellowship as a whole) over its individual members. This does not, however, mean the fellowship does not care about the individual members. It simply means that in order to help the individual member, the common welfare of the fellowship needs to be sound.
“Two – 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.”
Tradition Two is often one of the most baffling to newcomers or outside observers- that a fellowship of over two million members has no leader. This is, however, absolutely the case. While early in the early founders of the fellowship served as leaders in the beginning, once the fellowship was established this practice was effectively brought to an end. The leadership of A.A. and the other fellowships comes from the group conscience, rather than from a specific individual.
“Three – The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
The Third Tradition allows anyone to join the fellowship, given that they have a desire to quit drinking. This crucial tradition ensures that the fellowship may not refuse anyone who desires to quit drinking. The importance of this is simple – alcoholism and addiction does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, social class, etc. Thus, the importance of having a tradition that protects the right of anyone to join who wants to recover was clear to the founders.
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.