12 Traditions

At Brazos Recovery Services, we are accountable to the 12 Traditions and incorporate them into our 12 Step Completion Program.

The 12 Traditions outline our purpose and responsibilities, ultimately focusing on the primary purpose of fellowship.

The 12 Traditions first came about in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, when support groups for substance misuse were in a period of rapid growth. Many people had questions surrounding the publicity, political stance, and financial side of groups such as these, and in 1946 Bill Wilson published his ‘Twelve Points to Assure Our Future’ in the AA Grapevine newspaper.

‘The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions’ was published in 1953, establishing what we know today as the 12 Traditions for members of AA support groups, including ours at Brazos Recovery Services.

What Are the 12 Traditions?

  1. The common welfare comes first.
  2. There is one ultimate authority, which is a loving God.
  3. The desire to stop drinking or using drugs is the only membership requirement.
  4. Each group is autonomous, except in matters affecting all groups.
  5. Each group’s primary purpose is to carry the message to those still struggling with alcohol and/or drugs.
  6. AA does not give money, endorsement, or prestige to any organization outside the group’s mission.
  7. Each group must self-support and decline outside contributions.
  8. The core of the group meetings is nonprofessional, peer support.
  9. There is no central organizing body.
  10. AA remains apolitical, with no opinion on outside issues.
  11. The personal anonymity of members is deeply important.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of the traditions, placing principles above personality.

The 12 Traditions Explained

1 – Unity Over Self

How many times have you tried to overcome your addiction by yourself? Through unity, we can establish a sense of solidarity that places less emphasis on the self, away from isolation and temptation to fall into alcohol and drug use. By working together as a group, we are more likely to overcome our addictions.

2 – The Ultimate Authority

In AA groups, there is no leadership, but one ultimate authority of a loving God. While we have members of the group who may serve the group, none govern. We ensure a sense of belonging for all members of the group by not having any elected leaders.

3 – Eligibility

The only requirement to join the group is the desire to abstain from alcohol and drugs, and this ensures everyone is on the same page. This tradition was created to keep the focus on one thing and keep any other issues coming into group discussions and agendas.

4 – Autonomy

Autonomy allows the group the freedom to make decisions like where and when they will meet, what they will discuss and the format of their meetings, and how and when they will start and end. At the same time, this tradition emphasizes that groups must be careful not to stray from the original purpose of meeting.

5 – Primary Purpose

This tradition is a reminder that the sole purpose of the group is to help those struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. While each individual may bring his or her unique struggles to the group, as a whole, the group will uphold and share the message of unity, strength, and hope of overcoming addiction.

6 – Outside Endorsements

Endorsements outside of the group’s mission are not allowed, and this is to preserve the integrity of the group’s primary purpose and message. While individuals may support and endorse any political, religious, or financial party they wish, as an apolitical and independent group, there must be no association with any other organization.

7 – Self-sufficiency

Likewise, the group must be self-sufficient and not accept funding from any outside parties. This allows the group to protect its primary purpose and values, without the pressure of association or fear of controversy with any outside groups.

8 – Nonprofessional

The aim of the group is always to offer free, peer support. It must remain an unpaid, nonprofessional organization in which members can give and take as they need, offering mutual support to one another.

9 – No Central Organizing Body

This tradition places emphasis on members focusing on their core focus and aim of fellowship and mutual support. There may be members who work as secretaries or treasurers, but there is no central organizing body. The group must work together.

10 – An Apolitical Stance

Individuals may have their own political viewpoints, but as a group must remain apolitical. This ensures no outside controversy or detraction from the group’s ultimate aim – to offer support to everyone regardless of their religion or politics.

11 – Anonymity Among Members

Anonymity is vital for any support group, and this tradition places emphasis on this as a key requirement in the recruitment of new members. ‘Attract rather than promote’ is the method by which we aim to bring new people to the group in any media relations.

12 – Principles Above Person

By upholding the anonymity of each member at all times, we place heavier importance on the principles of the group rather than individual needs. This tradition ensures we do not focus on personalities within the group, but instead, the core aims.

We refer to the 12 Traditions often and encourage our clients to do the same, familiarizing themselves with each one. By instilling these into our daily lives, we ensure we are all on the same page. While there is a lot to take in and learn from these 12 Traditions, we are all here to support one another on our journey in recovery. If you have any questions about the 12 Traditions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.