The Twelve Traditions

- June 15, 2022

The Twelve Traditions can be found on page 561 in the 4th edition of the Big Book of Alcoholics anonymous.  The traditions are to the group as a whole, as the steps are to the individual.  They are what holds this fellowship together and provides guidance when differences occur in the fellowship.  They are usually read at a meeting along with chapter 5 “How it works.”

Board members of a group have the Traditions to guide them in their decision making in things that pertain to the group as a whole.  The common welfare of the group must be kept intact for the good and unity of the members as a whole.  This is basically Tradition 1.  Unity, service and recovery are very important when it comes to making decisions that impact how the group is run.  Remember that there are no chiefs here, just Indians.

Tradition 3 outlines what it takes for one to become a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Simply put it is just a desire to stop drinking.  In the original manuscript an “honest desire” was written in the step.  One does not even have to be sober to become a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  You’re a member if you say you are and have a desire to stop drinking.  There are lots of stories in the fellowship of people who just came to meetings and eventually stopped drinking.  It has been said that a belly full of booze and a head full of AA do not mix very well!  Everyone is welcome as long as they are not disruptive to the meeting as a whole.

Step 7 is observed at most meetings.  It states that “every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.”  The funds collected in the Seventh Tradition are used to pay for rent, utilities, coffee and other expenses a group may have.  Groups are to contribute a certain percentage of their funds to the local central office so it’s doors can be kept open.  Groups are also suggested to send a portion of their funds to AA Central Office in New York.  It is advised that a group keep only a prudent reserve in their coffers.  It has also been said that we are not to let money, property or prestige seep into the functioning of the group as a whole.

Finally Step 12 states that “anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”  Group members usually do not use their last name when sharing in a meeting.  That information can be shared between group members when appropriate.  Some professional people may be hurt if they were identified as an AA member.  There are still lingering notions in society that alcoholism is a matter of will power, and the person should just be able to stop drinking if they really wanted to.  For we alcoholics this is just not true.  We have a physical allergy, obsession of the mind and a spiritual malady when afflicted with alcoholism.  Fortunately for those of us who have come to Alcoholics Anonymous and find sobriety can dispute the notion that we are week willed or just plain lazy.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  We are simply people who have lost the ability to control out drinking.  Thank God for the AA Program!

Written by Phillip