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.
“Four – Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.”
Tradition Four gives each group the freedom to run itself at the will of the group conscience (aka, the homegroup members). The only requirement is that the way each group is run does not negatively affect other groups or the fellowship as a whole. While giving this much freedom to each group may seem a little crazy, it is crucial for keeping meetings fresh.
If every meeting had the same format, the thought of going to meetings for years would certainly scare off even the most devoted of us. Tradition Four allows for each group to have its own personality and character that is a reflection of the homegroup member’s wishes.
“Five – Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”
While the previous tradition gives each group autonomy to run itself however it sees fit, Tradition Five decrees one common purpose: to carry the message of recovery to the newcomer. From this tradition comes the often-heard statement in meetings, that the newcomer is the most important person in the room. This tradition keeps the goal of each group extremely clear. It also gives a code of conduct to each member- that the newcomer comes first.
“Six – 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.”
Tradition Six simply is meant to protect the integrity of Tradition Five. There was a great fear that if the fellowship became involved with matters relating to money, property, and public prestige, that it would interfere with the primary purpose of each group to carry the message of the fellowship to those still sick and suffering. This does not prevent groups from operating within hospitals, treatment centers, etc. It does, however, prevent the group from affiliating or endorsing those enterprises.
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.