The 12 Traditions were first forumulated by the Alcoholics Anonymous
groups in their early years (1930s and 1940s). These traditions
grew out of experiences within the groups of what worked and
what didn't work concerning being effective
in helping others to achieve and maintain sobriety.
A.A. has continued these traditions and are the traditions that
continue to be followed in most other 12 step fellowships as well.
Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon
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
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
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 authority.
Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our
service centers may employ special workers.
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
Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A.
name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
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 personalities.
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.