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The A.A.’s 12 Traditions – 1 to 4


Alcoholics Anonymous has helped countless men and women to follow prolonged paths of sobriety since it’s foundation in 1935.

Their 12-step recovery program is the basis of healing and this continued sobriety, but they also have 12 traditions that it’s members follow.

These traditions are communicated to all members. They are used as guidelines to help all concerned to live and work together whilst within the A.A. community as well as during their daily life outside of the program.

Tradition 1: Common welfare:

This tradition states that the common welfare of all members should come first because a person’s recovery depends upon the unity of A.A.

To further explain, it is that each and every member of A.A. is only a small part of the whole organisation itself. It is imperative that the whole organisation continues to live or most individuals will surely die. While common welfare must come first, an individual’s welfare follows very closely behind.

Tradition 2: For group purpose, there is only one ultimate authority:

That authority is a loving God however he expresses Himself in the group conscience. The A.A. leader’s role should not be seen as one that governs, merely that they are trusted servants.

Tradition 3: Membership has only 1 requirement:

This may be a well voiced tradition, but it is an extremely important one. A desire to cease drinking is the one and only requirement for membership to the A.A.

To expand on this key point, it is important to understand that A.A. feel very strongly in terms of fully inclusive membership. Everyone who suffers from alcoholism has the right to be a part of the organisation. For this reason, they will refuse no one who wishes to recover.

Also covered under this tradition is the fact that membership should never depend upon what money a person has, nor that they should conform.

As few as two or three alcoholics who meet for reasons related to sobriety can establish an A.A. group with the proviso that being a group they afford no other affiliation.

Tradition 4: Autonomy:

Wherever a group is located this should be autonomous. This is with the exception of matters that affect other groups or the organization as a whole.

Each group should be responsible for its own affairs, they should not be responsible to any other authority apart from their own conscience.

A caveat here is that of mutual group respect. If plans concern matters or affect the welfare of any neighbouring groups, those groups should be consulted.

It is also important that no single group, a regional committee or an individual ever take any action that may greatly affect the whole organisation without discussing such matters with the appointed trustees sitting on the General Service Board. Such major issues are paramount to A.A.’s common welfare.

Respect and rapport:

It is very clear from these first 4 traditions that respect, individualism, and a collective care is uppermost in the organisations objectives.

The second in this series of A.A. traditions will continue to explain the ethos behind an organisation that has driven unstintingly to help those suffering from alcoholism.

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