The AA Twelve Traditions: Principles Help AA Thrive

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What are the AA Twelve Traditions? How do the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Traditions help support the program?

The AA Twelve Traditions are the principles that guide AA as an organization. In order to help the program help more people, these are the general rules for all local AA groups.

Read more about the AA Twelve Traditions and what they say.

What Are the AA Twelve Traditions?

In addition to the Twelve Steps, which are conducted by individuals, the Big Book discusses the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Traditions as an organization and as separate groups.

How can AA best function? How can AA survive? The AA Twelve Traditions provide guidance:

  1. “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.”
    • “AA must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first.”
  2. “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.”
  3. “The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
    • Refuse none who wish to recover. Never charge money or require conformity.
  4. “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.”
    • If an action may affect AA as a whole, confer with the trustees of the General Service Board.
  5. “Each group has but one primary purpose–to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”
  6. “An AA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.”
    • An AA group should never go into business.
    • An AA group should never bind itself to an organization—it should be able to freely discard other groups like clubs or hospitals.
  7. “Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.”
  8. “Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”
    • AA Twelve-Step work should never be paid for.
  9. “AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.”
    • Each AA group needs the least organization possible. Having rotating leadership is best.
  10. “Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”
  11. “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.”
  12. “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
The AA Twelve Traditions: Principles Help AA Thrive

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Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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