The 12 Traditions

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The 12 Traditions

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 29, 2005 10:20 am

Alcoholics Anonymous - Twelve Traditions

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. 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 A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

5. Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

6. 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.

7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. A.A., 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 A.A. 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.

Copyright A.A. World Services, Inc.

Alcoholics Anonymous - 12 Traditions

Rusty Zipper
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oh' no Tradition's

Postby Rusty Zipper » Sun Jul 31, 2005 12:52 am

hi all 12r's ....... you know around the room's whenever it's Tradition night. one hear's the moan's, and grown's... but, they are alway's good. we get to learn about what kept AA as a whole together. what keep's the room's together for today. and how we can hope to keep the future of AA.... for us working the program. and for the people down the road who might ask for help.... the principal's of the Tradition's have helped build this site, and will help to rebuild it again.... "One Day at a Time" all good wishe's xoxo Rusty :D

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Postby Dallas » Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:53 am

I started a group about two years ago. We had commitments from several people who shared the same vision. A positive uplifting environment that focused on recovery, and the AA solution... and a place where we could help people detox, and take the Steps, etceteras. More than just a meeting place. (It's almost 200 miles to the nearest detox facility, unless someone has $6000, for a 3 day stay in intensive care!)

The people I reach are not that fortunate.

Gees, did we go through the gamut and I felt like I was going through the gauntlet!

The only thing we had to guide us, was the Big Book, AA Comes of Age, Dr. Bob & the Good Oldtimers, the 12 & 12, and our experience, strength and hope.

We were trying to create an environment similar to AA 1939, and the first Club house on Clinton St. in NY.

We kept turning into me... to we... to me.. to we.. to me.. to we. :lol:

I made every mistake in the books! :lol:

But, I'll tell you... the experience was and is incredible!!!

For me, I thought I really understood the 12 Traditions... before we took the actions!

What a humongous learning experience and Spiritual Awakening!

My only regular "we" now, that I can really count on, is a lady who came in about a year ago... it's blueangle... (Kay) on She's been sober a long time... and I'd rather let her tell her story... :wink: and she sure has been a God-send.

Thank God, she's one tough ex-military girl that isn't afraid to 12 step men, and knock them on their butt if they get funny with her!!! (And, she has done that!) :wink: The real tough bad-ass street drunks around here have a whole lot of respect for Kay, and when they address her, they call her "Miss Kay."

I ended up having the 24 hour hotline, and didn't have any women to help out with women who needed help, until Kay came along.

Now, she handles the hotline 24/7... and I take it when she's got to go out of town.

So many times I wanted to give up... but, it was keeping me sober. And, I have a tendency to go nuts and get those severe depression spells like Bill W. got, unless I'm 12 Stepping drunks. When I'm 12 Stepping drunks, there isn't a depressed cell in my head!

I didn't intend to write all this. God must have had a reason for it... but I sure can't think of one!


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Postby Dallas » Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:45 am

While it is true, that the 12 & 12, and other AA literature, books and pamphlets are AA Conference approved literature (which simply means that it has been approved to be sold in AA Intergroup and AA Central Offices and AA meetings) ... the Big Book is AA's text book that contains AA's Program of Recovery. This is why the first 164 pages, and the Dr.'s Opinion, have not changed over the course of revisions. The only thing that has changed in the Big Book, since it's first printing, is the stories in the back of the book (other than the six appendices, and the prefaces, which basically say the same thing ... that the first part of the book contains AA's program of recovery, which has not changed). If the stories in the back of the book were as important as the basic text, the stories would not have changed either.

Bill did not intend for the 12 & 12, or any of his other books to replace the Big Book. No other AA literature has ever been introduced, produced, or approved to replace the purpose of the Big Book.

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Postby wareagle10 » Wed Jun 21, 2006 3:22 am

The traditions, FOR ME, hold the core of AA, the BB, together so that it does not get misintrepreted by some who would like to make up rules and regulations and make the program mandatory rather that suggested.

Way back in the beginning, Bill W. and the group in New York asked all the meetings to send in their rules for membership. The results were startling. As Bill put it, "if all those rules were put into effect at all the meetings, no alcoholic would be able to attend", hence came some of the "traditions" and the beginning of others. Without them, we would probably have gone the way of the Washingtonians, I have a copy of their book, some of which is used in the BB, not exactly sure which part, but, Bill talks about it. You may not like the talk about traditions, but, I, FOR ONE, feel the need for them and that they are really not explained properly.

As for the pamphlets, they really aren't for the sale purposes, or, profit. If you have availed yourself of them you can see that they answer many of the questions that AA's and dually affected individuals have and they are the answers that General Service, New York has answered with. The 44 Questions are the 44 most frequently asked questions by newcomers and sometimes the sponsor or oldtimer can't answer properly so he hands the newcomer the pamphlet to take home, along with the "A Newcomer Asks", and, "Questions and Answers on Sponsorship". These are vital, IN MY OPINION, to the newcomer and will give them a perspective on what AA is, and, is not.

These are just MY OPINIONS and have no relationship to AA and should not be construed as speaking for AA. I'm just a miserable alcoholic doing the best I can with what I have, and so far, it has worked. I wish you the same. This was given in the attitude of love and respect and meant no offense to anyone.

Take care and straight ahead, John.

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Program of Recovery

Postby Dallas » Wed Jun 21, 2006 5:02 am

Love and tolerance are included with this reply :wink:

Someone wrote: The traditions, FOR ME, hold the core of AA, the BB, together so that it does not get misintrepreted by some who would like to make up rules and regulations and make the program mandatory rather that suggested.

1. The traditions were written to help the "fellowship of AA"... that form the "Autonomous Groups" survive while they work with other "Autonomous Groups" to carry the message of AA. (Not every member of AA is a member of an AA Group).

2. The traditions were not written to help the BB to survive.

3. The BB was written to keep the AA fellowship from misinterpreting what AA's program of recovery is

4. The BB came first.... it is AA's Program of Recovery. And, without recovery (which must come first)... there would be no need for the traditions... and without AA Recovery... the AA Traditions will never be understood by those who desire to understand them.

Just because someone is a sober member of AA, whether it be for 24 hours or 24 years... it doesn't mean that they are "recovering from their alcoholism... or that they are indeed using AA's Program of Recovery." Heck, they don't even need to be sober... to be a member of AA.

Can an alcoholic stay sober... in AA, without using the AA Program of Recovery? Sure. It's done all the time. :lol: Can they stay sober many years without using the AA Program of Recovery? :lol: Sure. Very unfortunately, it's done all the time. It's unfortunate, because when alcoholics who are suffering and are going to die as a result of their alcoholism... don't get the message... that in AA we DO have an Official Program of Recovery to treat their alcoholism. Official? Yep. Official! The real deal! Not the imitation flavor! Not the counterfeit! Not the pamphlets. Not the suggestions!!! :wink:

5. The word "suggested" can be used all that anyone wants to use it. However, right in the beginning of the Big Book, and all the way through the first 164 pages... I'll lay odds on a bet... that you'll find the word "must" many more times that you'll find the word "suggested." :wink: (Measurable facts... are facts... regardless of how they suggestively measured).

6. I find that it's most often the AA members who have not read or studied the BB, and didn't follow the Program of Recovery in the BB, who have the most difficult time in understanding the difference in the "AA Program of Recovery" and the "AA Fellowship." They are two very distinct and different things.

7. The AA Program of Recovery in the Book will survive... even if the entire fellowship of AA members fell off the face of the planet just like the Washingtonians did. (That's why the Big Book was written... to preserve the Program of Recovery precisely like it is in the book).

8. The AA fellowship and the AA meetings "IS NOT" the AA Program of Recovery.

9. The 12 Traditions deal with AA's being able to work together. It deals with the AA Fellowship... not the AA Program of Recovery. The Traditions are "suggestions" which deal with "membership" in the Fellowship... and it has nothing to do with "who can or who cannot attend AA meetings."

10. A close read of the 12 Traditions... shows that the intent of the traditions was to help the "Groups" survive while those "Groups" worked with other "Groups" in their efforts to reach out to other "alcoholics." (The same reason that the final wording of Step 12, was changed from "carry this message to others" to "carry this message to alcoholics." (Singleness of Purpose).

11. What "message" is Step 12 referring to? You have to read the Big Book to answer that question. A simple way to answer the question, would be to start reading on page 58, Chapter 5, "How it works"... that is read in MOST AA meetings around the world. "this message" IS the "12 Steps." But, don't take my word for it... read the book. :wink:

If you're still not convinced... that the Program of Recovery is "in the Big Book" and NOT in the Pamphlets.... or in the meetings... or in the sharing... that the AA members do... then, read from the Beginning of the Book... "The forward to the First Edition"... which is in all 4 Editions... and the "Prefaces" to each edition. (It isn't very long, and it's very precise. It only takes a couple of minutes to read it.)

Bill, wrote something like "If you've read the book up this far... and you're still not convinced" (Original MS Chapter 5, but not verbatim)... "then EITHER READ THE BOOK AGAIN, UP TO THIS POINT.... Or ELSE? THROW IT AWAY!!!" :lol:

I personally believe, that the reason most of the newcomers to AA don't make it, and they either die drunk and don't recover... or, just like in a few of the other stories in this forum... they kill themselves, without recovering... is because so many members in the AA fellowship don't understand what the AA Program of Recovery is.... and then they feed "their own individual message" to the newcomer... and the newcomer doesn't make it.

Then, when the newcomer doesn't make it... they often do not come back to AA for another try, because they believed that the AA members, who fed them "their own message of recovery" was telling them the truth... and they say "I tried AA and it didn't work."

Why do I believe that? For the last 19 years... I've heard it from alcoholics who are almost dead on skidrow... and are living homeless under bridges. "I tried AA and it didn't work".... When asked "what did you try in AA?"... they say "I went to the meetings... and the meetings didn't work..." or "I tried their suggestions and it didn't work". When asked "Who's suggestions?" They say "the suggestions I heard from the members in the meetings." When asked "Did you ever read the Big Book?"... Most often the answer is "No. I read some of it. Some of the stories in the back I liked."

It's too bad that every AA member, out of a "sense of duty and responsibility" for what AA has given them... doesn't get clear on what the message of AA is... and what the Program of Recovery is. And, it's unfortunate, that we have so many AA members, who are following in the footsteps of the "Washingtonians" (who disappeared)... The "Washingtonians" carried a "word of mouth message.".... Perhaps, if they had of had a Big Book, and a Program of Recovery, "other than suggestions"... we would all be sober members of the Washingtonian Movement... rather than members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Thanks for allowing me to share a message, that it's so unfortunate... that it needs to be shared.


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Postby JR » Thu Jun 22, 2006 3:32 am


Your post made me think of my dad. Back in 1972 my dad tried to get sober in AA. He even picked up a one year pin (I guess they gave out pins back then). He drank again. He went through numerous treatment facilities and never got sober. My dad never went back to AA but he died sober. He found God in church and I think he got so old and blind he couldn't get alcohol anymore and nobody would get it for him.

In 1986 I was at my mom's house cleaning out her basement. I found my dad's Big Book. It was a 2nd edition and had been inscribed by his AA group in 1972. It was a book in mint condition. The dust jacket was still on it. It was a book that had never been used, possibly never read. I then knew why AA didn't work for my dad. It was because my dad had never tried it. He went to meetings and participated in the fellowship, but he quite obviously never read the Big Book and most likely never learned or practiced the principles of AA.

To this day I wonder how much better my families life would have been if only my dad would have cracked open his Big Book. I swore my Big Book would be the exact opposite of my dad. I have read it countless times; it is very used and very worn and very studied. The problem with us alcoholics is that yesterdays program doesn't keep you sober today. I stopped reading and studying the Big Book and ended up drinking again just as the Big Book promises if we don't keep in fit spiritual condition.

Now I have a Big Book that is only 10 months old. I have sworn once again to use it as much as I did my old one. I gave my old one to a friend because I didn't want to appear to have something I didn't when I take it to a meeting.

I love the Big Book. It is an old friend and dear.

Thanks for letting me share,


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Thank you

Postby Dallas » Thu Jun 22, 2006 6:26 am

In my little AA Group, many of the prospects that stumble in through the doors are homeless and broke, and often looking to use a telephone, or to get a cup of coffee, or a ride, or a loan, or something to eat. :lol: Or, they stumble in to say "Hey this is AA isn't it? I used to be a member of AA, and I used to be sober!" :wink: Often, if they are sober when they get to the meeting, it's because they just got out of jail... which is a 1/2 block away!

When they express an interest in getting sober, they usually don't have the money to buy a Big Book.... and since I read in the Book that I'm supposed to "lend them my copy" :cry: I spend a lot of time in thrift stores and junk stores searching for used Big Books to pass out to them, or to use in our Big Book study meetings. I can buy 8 or 9 used Big Books for the price of one new one.

Most often, the Big Books that I find in the junk stores are in mint condition with the original dust jackets, and are usually early 3rd Edition printings. Sometimes, they will have the persons name and a date... and sometimes they will have the names of other AA members, and their telephone numbers, and special wishes for the person to "Keep coming back!" etceteras. And, it's very heart touching for me to read the names and dates and little inscriptions.

For a while, I had a lady coming who has been coming in and out of AA for 30 years. Once, several years ago, she was able to get two honest years of sobriety. She's a junk hound also, and she told me of a mint First Edition Big Book that she bought in a yard sale. She said that it was "the big red one... with the real pretty cover on it." Unfortunately, she got drunk and can't remember what she did with it. :cry: Last year, which was the last time I saw her at a meeting, she remarked that she had read the Big Book more in the short time she had been coming to our meeting, than she did for the entire 30 years that she's been trying to get sober.

Today, I had the opportunity to participate in taking a meeting to an AA members home. He is now house-bound because of his health, and he lives out in the country. Today was his 30 year sobriety birthday and we were able to give him his cake and his 30 year chip. Before his ill health, he was very active in AA. Many years ago, he started some of the meetings in our area that are still going today.

It was a surprise visit. He didn't know we were coming. And, I happened to look on a little table, right next to the recliner that he was sitting in... and saw his old worn out Big Book right next to him, along with a worn out 24 Hour A Day book, that had duct tape holding it together! :lol: (From now on... we'll be taking regular weekly meetings into his home, since he can't get out of the house to go to meetings).

As I looked at the old worn out Big Book that was by his side... I couldn't help but feel those tears of gratitude swell up inside me... giving thanks to God, for that blue book that has not only saved my life, and helped me to find peace of mind, and a feeling that I'm okay with God now, and has giving me such a life that really is worth living.

Thanks for letting me share.

Last edited by Dallas on Fri Jun 23, 2006 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby wareagle10 » Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:41 am

I have over the past 22 years passed out new and used BB throughout Orange County and Los Angeles Counties to meetings that are small and can't afford to provide BB and to recovery houses. I have also given away 12X12's along with the pamphlets. You may not believe that people are led into the program by pamphlets, but, I have seen the evidence, which also leads the newcomer into the BB and the steps. Bill and Bob both said that the alcoholic is one of the most stubborn creatures on the face of the earth. I happen to be one of those they described. I am sober and a member of AA who has read the BB countless times, studied it as you would a text, and am sober as a result of it. I may not have the saintly type of sobriety that some have, but, I have a sobriety that keeps me happy, grounded in the principles, aware of the steps, and, helpful to the alcoholic like myself who needs another kind of guidance into the program of AA and the BB.

I have one of those worn out old blue BB, 2nd edition, dog earred, torn pages type books. Original to the day I bought it when I first came into the program, I too, find it to be a friend, even though many don't think I know anything about it. I find that a little baffling that an alcoholic would take inventory of another's sobriety. I don't care really how you got sober, I know that you are better off than you were when you were drinking and I'll wager their families would agree with that. Many come to AA on court cards, no true carriers of the message here and certainly not coming because they hit their bottom. I know many who have stayed and become very valuable members of AA and have gone on to help other newcomers find the program and to even sponsor people.

I guess, for me, come into AA any way you can, but come on in. Along the way you may find that the suggested program is one that you can embrace, or, you may wish to go with a stronger cup of coffee and find the individual that is more strict in his/her beliefs. To me, it doesn't matter, I know what I left behind in that alley and empty bottle of wine, and, if those who come after me know what they left there also, they know, like me that this is the better way. I do it as best I can, and I will do it as long as I can until I die. I have changed my course so many times throughout the 22 years that you never know, I may even find a God. Wouldn't count on it but wouldn't count it out, either.

Take care and straight ahead, John.

Buck V
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Postby Buck V » Sat Jun 24, 2006 3:58 pm

Thank you, John. You wrote:

"I find that a little baffling that an alcoholic would take inventory of another's sobriety".

I get a little tired of hearing the phrase "dry drunk". From what I gather, this is a description of an alcoholic who doesn't drink, but that someone else feels isn't following a program of recovery as he/she interprets it, therefore is not a recovering alcoholic but only a sober alcoholic. Hmmm. Being a newbie, I'm still confused about the difference, or whether it makes a difference.

For me, I embrace the AA program because it has helped me come to grips with my life. Although I'm only working on 7 months of sobriety, the way of living life "suggested" by the BB works for me and my life has become better for it. Not drinking at this point in my sobriety, is a side benefit. I follow MY understanding of the principles "suggested" because I want to, not because someone with some set of rules and regulations and interpretations has force fed it to me.

I love the traditions, the "why it works". It amazes me that these 12 little principles can guide such an incredibly effective organization such as AA. When I came into AA, I knew nothing about how it worked and wanted to know more cause I'm a curious kinda guy. I couldn't believe that my little group could support itself by passing a basket. I couldn't believe that there was no true governing body, but only trusted servants. I particulary love the third tradition. Membership requires only that I wish to stop drinking. It doesn't say I "have" to do anything else. Early on, my sponsor encouraged and helped me to become knowlegeable about every aspect of AA that I had questions about including the traditions. And what I've learned from studying these traditions, for me, is that AA is a tolerant, self sustaining, unobtrusive, loosly organized support group whose primary purpose is to help alcoholics who suffer from their disease. Period. Works for me.

Today, I am a happy, sober and free alcoholic...or should I say recovering alcoholic...or dry drunk...or an alcoholic who doesn't drink...or......................?


p.s. My BB is a 4th Edition, almost 7 months old, is dog eared, coffee stained and has 5 different colors of highlighter. If you find it in a used book store, it will be inscribed "Buck V. 11/26/2005" But don't look for it too soon.

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