The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Overview

The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Overview

Some believe that one in eight Americans is an alcoholic, but it's hard to say for sure. Differences in measuring and procedure result in a different number for almost every study.

The passage of years and the arrival of a pandemic have certainly had an effect on that. COVID 19 and the long stretch of days locked inside led to a spike in drinking.

The good news is that there are always programs and support groups to help you get and stay sober. The most famous of these groups is Alcoholics Anonymous, which invented twelve-step programs.

Bringing up 12-step programs raises the question of what the steps are. More accurately described as the 12 traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the steps constitute a set of ideals and lifestyle changes to help someone overcome alcohol addiction.

We'll talk more about them in this article.

1-3. Establishing Support

The first three rules of Alcoholics Anonymous create a system of support. This system shall consist of group members, the assistance of a higher power, and the willingness to help anyone struggling with alcoholism.

Encouragement is at the center of the entire program. The people around you have the same goals and you can reach those goals together. You will forgive missteps and celebrate successes together. 

4. Group Autonomy

Every AA group governs itself, with the only exception being any issue that involves more than one group. This helps to preserve the group dynamic and the anonymity that is at the core of AA.

Interacting with other groups only when necessary helps to protect the anonymity of those in each group.

5. Carry the Message

The group's purpose is to help recovering alcoholics and to reach out to alcoholics who are trying to get sober. Many alcoholics feel shame about their struggles with drinking, and they might open up more to other alcoholics.

Spreading the message helps the organization reach more alcoholics, thus allowing them to help more alcoholics. The 'Big Book,' a book called Alcoholics Anonymous, introduces this idea. 

The book isn't much older than the organization. One of the founders wrote it. The book later gave its name to the group.

6-10. An Organization Unto Itself

Rules 6 through 10 of Alcoholics Anonymous concern the group's identity and function within society. These rules state that the organization is self-supported, self-funded, and has no business or political ties with anyone.

AA is not a business, doesn't take donations, and does not have, nor will it have, any official positions on any issue.

11-12. Anonymity

AA maintains anonymity whenever possible. The organization may make efforts to gain new members, but it doesn't publicly celebrate the successes of its members. Alcoholics Anonymous coins or chips are given to recognize members' accomplishments, but this will be done within the group.

A Guide to the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous

The 12 traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous are the set of rules upon which the organization is founded. We've discussed what these twelve traditions are and how they shape the organization in this article, but there's a lot more to know.

For instance, AA uses more than just coins and chips in their programs. They also have various books that aim to help alcoholics stay sober. You can find coins, literature about sobriety, and related things on our site.