Twelve Traditions

Many have heard of the twelve steps associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, also called AA. Created as a path to get sober and live a life of recovery, they have helped countless lives onto the path of recovery. A lesser-known part of Alcoholics Anonymous is the twelve traditions.

The twelve traditions are also a part of AA, but instead of actions to take toward recovery, they are a set of philosophies for members and AA as a whole. If you or a loved one are currently in treatment or living in recovery the twelve traditions can help continue and enhance your experiences with the AA community.

What are the Twelve Traditions?

Alcoholics Anonymous describes the twelve traditions as “guidelines for relationships between the groups, members, the global Fellowship, and society at large. Questions of finance, public relations, donations, and purpose are addressed in the Traditions.”

The twelve traditions written by AA are:

  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 to 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 to 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 to 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.

For the full version of the traditions, head here. If you have questions about the traditions, we encourage you to start a conversation in your next AA meeting.

What’s the Difference between the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions?

Although both are limited to 12, the steps and traditions were created for different purposes. The 12 steps are just as they sound – directions to live a life in recovery from addiction. The formation behind the 12 steps started in 1938 when two men, Bill Wilson, and Bob Smith, wrote down what would later be called the first edition of the Big Book. These teachings and the steps are the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

If you need to compare, the steps are as follows:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.

The 12 traditions are more a set of principles created to help AA groups and communities work. They remind members of the importance of anonymity, the value of the group, and how every member contributes.

How to Know if AA Might Be Right for You 

If you are interested in learning more about the 12 steps or what a 12-step program meeting looks like, head here to find a meeting near Alpharetta. If not located in Georgia, you can find the nearest AA meeting through this website.

At Emerge Healing Center, we offer 12-step programming and other tools that complement that treatment. These include CBT/DBT, holistic therapy, equine therapy, EMDR therapy, and more.

Deciding if 12-step programming is the most beneficial option for you may seem like a challenge. However, AA has stated that about 75% of its members remain abstinent. Relapse is extremely common in addiction, but they also claim 25% remain sober after a relapse.

Getting Treatment 

If you or a loved one are currently dealing with alcohol or drug addiction and would like to know more about treatment options in Atlanta, contact us today. At Emerge Healing Center, our team can help you to decide which program is right for you, as well as design a treatment program that will maximize your chances of success. Gain control of your life with the help of the right treatment center, and find out just how fulfilling an addiction-free life can be.