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What is the 12 & 12 (Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions)?

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.