Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a fellowship of individuals working together to overcome their alcohol addiction. Although it is founded on Christianity, the group is not meant to be exclusive to this belief or political in any way. It is also multiracial and entirely self-supporting. Through the help of a sponsor who has worked through the program, the system of peer support to abstain from substance abuse is open to anyone seeking support.
AA is one of the first organizations to recognize the need for social support in ending alcohol addiction. The founding principles of AA are commonly known as the 12 Steps, and other programs based on or derived from AA are sometimes referred to as 12-step programs.
The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions: Understanding The Difference
The 12 Steps of AA have become solidly entrenched as a path toward recovery from many addictions, not just those related to alcohol or drugs. These steps are a vital part of recovery programs of many kinds and a cornerstone of recovery for millions of alcoholics worldwide. They emphasize acknowledging the problem, seeking help, and continuing to practice healthy behaviors,
Conversely, the 12 traditions provide a set of practical, spiritual guidelines for governing the organization itself. These establish practices permit the organization to remain focused on its primary objective—to provide a free and available haven for any person who wishes to quit drinking and cultivate a new life in sobriety.
12 Traditions of AA (Short Version)
1) Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
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.
4) Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
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.
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.
9) AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
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.
Primary Takeaways of the 12 Traditions
The 12 traditions of AA are in many ways an extension of the original 12 steps, but with a more practical focus on ensuring groups and large chapters work and are on the same page. The 12 traditions of AA emphasize the following principles, although they are not exhaustive of all them all:
Individual Welfare and the Common Good – The 12 traditions affirm that each member is a part of a greater whole and the organization’s welfare depends on every individual’s contributions at every level.
AA Has a Spiritual Focus – Like the original 12 Steps, the 12 traditions assert that God (as the group’s conscience recognizes Him) is the ultimate authority. The 12 traditions also state that the organization’s insistence on anonymity has a spiritual purpose. It helps the organization put principles before individuals and keeps all members on the same level.
AA Must Remain Autonomous – The 12 traditions stress that every AA group must be responsible for its governance, and a group can be comprised of any two or three alcoholics who want to form one. Groups should confer and cooperate for the organization’s greater good, with its welfare always the main consideration. On an organizational level, AA must remain separate from any political or institutional connections. The 12 traditions also state that although AA groups may work with agencies that provide medical or mental health care and other facilities, they must remain independent.
AA Must Remain Anonymous – Anonymity is at the core of AA’s commitment to helping alcoholics. It protects privacy and also keeps the organization focused on its core philosophies rather than individual members.
Getting Professional Help for Alcoholism or Drug Abuse
Just Believe Recovery Center offers 12-step and group support activities in addition to comprehensive, evidence-based therapeutic modalities, including medically-assisted detox, psychotherapy, counseling, art and music therapy, aftercare planning, and more.