What Are The 12 Traditions? What Do They Mean?

The 12 Traditions

AA and other 12-step recovery organizations run surprisingly smoothly. Despite differences in culture and purpose between the groups, they tend to remain focused on their goals. They usually avoided excessive infighting or bad publicity. The various groups within 12-step fellowships have managed to run their affairs well while maintaining their autonomy.

The 12-traditions allow these organizations to manage their day-to-day affairs competently while remaining focused on their mission.

History of the 12 Traditions

AA was created in the 1930s and soon enjoyed a terrific amount of success. Groups spread all around the United States and, not long after, the entire world.

However, there were no clear rules for the structure of the organization. The different groups were intended to be self-contained and self-sufficient, and they indeed were. However, organizational questions and controversies began to bedevil the fellowship. No matter how autonomous the various groups are, they need a way to deal with administrative and financial issues.

What Are The 12 Step Promises? What They Mean

The 12 Step Promises

The 9th Step in the 12-step program is a highly consequential one. It is the step wherein a recovering addict makes amends for the harm they have done to other people in their lives and mainly due to their addiction.

As it says in the Big Book of AA, when working this Step, we: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

As part of completing this crucial step, individuals make and fulfill a series of promises, which appear in chapter 6 of the big book of AA. Though conceived as part of working a specific step, they often become an essential part of the outlook of recovering addicts.

What is the 12 & 12 in Alcoholics Anonymous?

12 and 12 Cover

What is the 12 & 12 in AA?

The 12 & 12 (12 and 12) refers to combining two lists of 12 items that have shaped the approach, the steps, and the traditions. The 12-steps are a roadmap that facilitates a path to recovery from addiction. Meanwhile, the 12 traditions are the organizational principles by which 12-step groups maintain autonomy while working towards a common goal.

The founders of AA came up with the 12-steps very early on in its history. In 1950, they added the twelve traditions to solidify the organizational principles that allow groups to avoid distractions and help addicts recover.

In 1953 founder Bill W. published the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. It emphasizes the equal importance of both the steps and the traditions. Indeed, the two are inseparable. The steps illuminate the path an individual can take towards recovery. But the completion of that path without the group is impossible, and the group cannot provide that support without the traditions to guide it.

How to Find Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Near You

Hot to Find an AA Meeting

There are Alcoholics Anonymous meetings all around the world. Just about every country has chapters, and most big cities have multiple meetings every day. Meetings types vary. Some are open to the public, while others are closed and designed to protect anonymity. There are meetings designed exclusively for men or women and co-ed meetings as well. Therefore, every member of the fellowship should be able to find the right arrangement for them.

Regional Service Centers

Many cities and counties have service centers dedicated to local AA chapters. Many of them operate hotlines, sometimes 24-hour ones, which you can contact to find a meeting nearby.

Volunteer members of the fellowship answer the hotlines and are eager to help newcomers. They will tell you which meetings are currently available and open. They can also help newcomers find an individual to meet with them and prepare them for the first meeting.

Local AA directories list all of the meetings in their areas. However, the guides are often closed to non-members.

What is the Alcoholics Anonymous Success Rate?

Alcoholics Anonymous Success Rate

Many members of Alcoholics Anonymous swear that the program has saved their lives and changed them profoundly for the better. For some critics of the program, AA is essentially a cult, built on pseudoscience with no tangible benefits for members.

This has been a difficult argument to settle. Until the last 20 years or so, it was particularly difficult to get good figures on the success of Alcoholics Anonymous.

However, the high-quality research that has been done, shows that AA has an impressive success rate. In comparison to other forms of treatment, the 12-step program has fared either equally well or in most cases somewhat better.

According to one particularly good study, 67% of those who attend AA meetings regularly remain sober in the long-term. It is important to note that this is the success rate for those that stick with the program over the years and not the success rate for those who were members briefly.

Different Types of AA Meetings – Meeting Types Explained

12 step AA meeting concept

When you imagine going to AA meetings, you may think of a fairly simple set up. People introducing themselves as alcoholics and telling their stories. Indeed, the official purpose of AA meetings is for members to “share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” Almost all meetings have certain characteristics in common. The serenity prayer starts the proceedings. Some AA material is read and people share. Finally, there is almost always coffee involved!

However, aside from these common characteristics, meetings can differ greatly. Indeed, as the fellowship has grown and evolved, different types of meetings have been pioneered to suit its growing needs. Here are the main types of meetings currently open to attendance.

What is the Big Book of AA and where can I get one?

Big Book of AA

What is the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Originally titled Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism, the first large work released by AA was referred to as “the Big Book of AA” due to the thickness of the pages used in the first edition.

The most notable contribution of the “Big Book of AA” is the methodical presentation of the vaunted “12-Steps of AA”, the cornerstone of the recovery of millions of addicts. The “How it Works” chapter, which contains these steps, has since appeared with minor adjustments in the literature of all other related fellowships such as Narcotics Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous.

The entire Alcoholics Anonymous program stands and falls on the success of the 12-step concept of recovery presented in that chapter. It is hard to conduct scientific studies of the effectiveness of 12-step programs, due to the anonymity factor. However, those studies that have been conducted have conclusively pointed to its usefulness in fostering recovery.