What Are the Twelve Traditions of AA?

The 12 Traditions of AA are the set of internal rules and structures that keep groups focused on their primary objective: helping other alcoholics recover

Just as the 12 Steps are intended to help the alcoholic survive, the 12 Traditions are designed to help the group survive. 

If you or a loved one need help and want to stick to the 12 traditions too, The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation may be the right place for you. Contact us today and discover how our sober living environment can support your goals of sobriety and a fulfilling life.

History of the 12 Traditions

AA’s 12 Traditions were created to ensure that the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous would survive after seeing exponential growth during its formative years. 

Seeing the program take roots in different cities, states, and countries, Bill Wilson feared that AA groups starting without formative guidance would cause AA as a whole to fracture and ultimately collapse. 

Without a unifying structure, AA groups could diverge into sub-groups with their own hierarchies and rules, making a group in different locations vastly different from one another. Bill foresaw these groups disagreeing with how the program should operate after they had become entrenched in their positions and knew that he needed to act.

In 1946, Bill wrote an article in The Grapevine called “Twelve Points to Assure Our Future,” which became the outline for the 12 Traditions of AA as we know them today. He hoped to create a single resource for groups to rely upon in matters affecting their group and let the spiritual principles of the program guide its members.

The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous

In 1953, the book “The Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions” was published, providing a framework for groups new and old in structuring their meetings and maintaining AA’s primary purpose. 

True to their intent, the 12 Traditions have kept the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous unified for over 80 years.

The 12 Traditions seek to:

  • Unify AA groups
  • Keep AA away from public controversy
  • Maintain AA’s singularity of purpose
  • Recognize that appointed positions are elected servants, not governors
  • Maintain anonymity in the public sphere
  • Keep AA nonprofessional

No matter where you go in the world, AA groups follow the 12 Traditions. If you’ve been to one meeting, you’ll find that groups in wildly different locations all stick to the same structural basis despite cultural differences.

How Are The Traditions Different from the Steps?

The 12 Steps of AA are meant as a path for an alcoholic to achieve sobriety. They lead you on a journey of spiritual growth and personal development. In contrast, the Traditions intend to do the same task on the group level. They keep the group strong so that it will always remain available for the individual.

If you decide to make service a priority in your recovery, you may start to hear about the 12 Concepts as well. Introduced after the traditions, the concepts help to keep AA functioning as a worldwide entity.

Sanctuary Recovery Foundation

Sanctuary Recovery Foundation offers safe and supportive sober living for people in recovery. Contact us today to learn more about our recovery communities in beautiful coastal South Carolina, and find housing that will keep you accountable and on the right track in your sobriety.