Category Archives: Here Are The Traditions We Practice

A.A. Tradition Eight

Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers. (“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions“, Tradition Eight)

Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may well be recompensed. But our usual A.A. “12th Step” work is never to be paid for. (long form)

… more to be added …

A.A. Tradition Nine

A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. (“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions“, Tradition Nine)

Each A.A. group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee, and the groups of a large metropolitan area their central or intergroup committee, which often employs a full-time secretary. The trustees of the General Service Board are, in effect, our A.A. General Service Committee. They are the custodians of our A.A. Tradition and the receivers of voluntary A.A. contributions by which we maintain our A.A. General Service Office at New York. They are authorized by the groups to handle our over-all public relations and they guarantee the integrity of our principal newspaper, the A.A. Grapevine. All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for true leaders in A.A. are but trusted and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern. Universal respect is the key to their usefulness. (long form)

Tradition Nine (as from Appendix I in “Alcoholics Anonymous”)

“A.A., as such…”

Here we are talking primarily about each and every “any two or three alcoholics calling themselves an A.A. group” (Tradition Three, long form). And so…
“‘Any two or three alcoholics calling themselves an A.A. group’ ought never be organized…”

note: In relation to A.A.’s “Service Structure”, “General Service Structure”, “General Service Conference Service Structure” or however we might perceive or word any type of “A.A. Service”, we have this related “insight update” published in “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”:
“When Tradition Nine was first written, it said ‘…least possible organization’…we have [since] changed our minds…able to say with assurance…never be organized at all.” So, and having thus seen the same principle ultimately applied to “A.A. as a whole”, we are now back at our beginning:
“‘Any two or three alcoholics calling themselves an A.A. group’ ought never be organized…”
“…but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.”

At our individual-group or combined-inter-group level, one example of that might be something like hiring an outside, 24/7/365 answering service…and then also being certain its staff is well-informed as to exactly how we want our incoming calls re-directed to us.

From Tradition Nine – the long form (Appendix I):

“Rotating leadership is best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee…”

How that is handled in each individual group will vary greatly from one to the next. The smallest of groups might not have anyone else available at one time or another where the largest of groups might need to rotate even the members of its nominating committee. But the bottom line is always the same: “Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern…” (Tradition Two)
“…authorized by the groups…guided in the spirit of service…trusted and experienced servants…derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern.” (Tradition Nine, long form)

More from “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”:

“Did anyone ever hear of…even a benevolent association that had no membership rules?
“…a society which couldn’t somehow discipline its members and enforce obedience…?
“Doesn’t nearly every society on earth give authority to some of its members [– cops have guns, judges have gavels –] to impose obedience upon the rest and to punish or expel offenders?”
“…Alcoholics Anonymous is an exception…does not conform to this pattern…[cannot] issue a single directive…mete out any punishment…utter failure is always the result.”

In summary:
“…we [autonomous A.A. fellowship groups] shall always need to authorize workers to serve us…
“If nobody does the group’s chores, if the [community’s] telephone rings unanswered, if we do not reply to our mail, then A.A. as we know it would stop…
“…Though Tradition Nine at first sight seems to deal with a purely practical matter, in its actual operation it discloses a society without organization, animated only by the spirit of service—a true fellowship.”

From “The Doctor’s Opinion”:
“…we work out our solution on the spiritual as well as an altruistic plane…”
“We [doctors]…have found nothing which has contributed more to the rehabilitation of these men than the altruistic movement now growing up among them.”

A.A. Tradition Ten

Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. (“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions“, Tradition Ten)

No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues – particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever. (long form)

If you want to drink, that is your business, and if you want to stop, that is ours!

From our Basic Text:  “We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution.  Experience shows that such an attitude is not helpful to anyone.  Every new alcoholic looks for this spirit among us and is immensely relieved when he finds we are not witch-burners.  A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives could have been saved, had it not been for such stupidity.  We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand likes to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it.
“Some day we hope that Alcoholics Anonymous will help the public to a better realization of the gravity of the alcoholic problem, but we shall be of little use if our attitude is one of bitterness or hostility.  Drinkers will not stand for it.
“After all, our problems were of our own making.  Bottles were only a symbol.  Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything.  We have to!”  (“Alcoholics Anonymous”, page 103)

… more to be added …

A.A. Tradition Eleven

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. (note: Television is simply the combination of radio and film.) (“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions“, Tradition Eleven)

Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not to be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us. (long form)

… more to be added …

A.A. Tradition Twelve

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. (“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions“, Tradition Twelve)

And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all. (long form)

… more to be added …