The 12 traditions grew out of the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) movement and outline the means by which A.A.
maintains its unity and relates itself to the world around it. For a more complete explanation of
these traditions, please see the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions from the Alcoholics
Anonymous World Services, Inc.
Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity
Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live
or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first.
But individual welfare follows close afterward.
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.
For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in
our group conscience.
The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we
may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money
or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call
themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority
than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those
groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take action
that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General
Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.
Each group has but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose -
that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
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.
Problems of money, property and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim.
We think, therefore, that any considerable property of genuine use to A.A. should be separately
incorporated and managed, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. An A.A. group, as such,
should never go into business. Secondary aids to A.A., such as clubs or hospitals which require
much property or administration, ought to be incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary,
they can be freely discarded by the groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the A.A. name.
Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them.
For clubs, A.A. managers are usually preferred. But hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation,
ought to be well outside A.A. - and medically supervised. While an A.A. group may cooperate with
anyone, such cooperation ought never to go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied.
An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.
Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of
their own members. We think that each group should soon achieve this ideal; that any public
solicitation of funds using the name of Alcoholics Anonymous is highly dangerous, whether
by groups, clubs, hospitals or other outside agencies; that acceptance of large gifts
from any source, or of contributions carrying any obligation whatever, is unwise.
Then too, we view with much concern those A.A. treasuries which continue, beyond prudent
reserves, to accumulate funds for no stated A.A. purpose. Experience has often warned us that
nothing can so surely destroy our spiritual heritage as futile disputes over property, money and
Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ
Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional. We define professionalism as the
occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are
going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage non-alcoholics.
Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. "12th Step" work is never
to be paid for.
A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible
to those they serve.
Each A.A. group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is the best. The small group
may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee, and the groups of a large metropolitan
area their central or inter group committee, which often employs a full-time secretary. The trustees of
the General Service Board are, in effect, our A.A. General Services Committee. They are the custodians
of our A.A. Tradition and the receivers of voluntary A.A. contributions by which we maintain our
A.A. General Services Office at New York. They are authorized by the groups to handle our over-all
public relations and they guarantee the integrity of our principal newspaper, the A.A. Grapevine.
All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for true leaders in A.A. are but trusted
and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not
govern. Universal respect is the key to their usefulness.
Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into
No A.A. group or member should ever, in such way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside
issues - particularly those of politics, alcohol reform or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics
Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.
Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal
anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought
to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed
or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than
promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above
And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense
spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that
we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never
spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.