To those now in its fold, Alcoholics Anonymous has made the difference between misery and sobriety, and often the difference between life and death. A.A. can, of course, mean just as much to uncounted alcoholics not yet reached.
Therefore, no society of men and women ever had a more urgent NEED for continuous effectiveness and permanent unity. We alcoholics see that we must work together and hang together, else most of us will finally die alone.
The ‘Twelve Traditions’ of Alcoholics Anonymous are, we in A.A. believe, the best answers that our experience has yet given to those ever urgent questions, “How can A.A. best function?” and, “How can A.A. best stay whole and so survive?”
A.A.’s Twelve Traditions are seen in their so-called ‘short form’, the form in general use today. This is a condensed version of the original ‘long form’ A.A. Traditions as first printed in 1946. Because the long-form is more explicit and of possible historic value, it is also reproduced:
One – Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
Two – For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.
Three – The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
Four – Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups, or A.A. as a whole.
Five – Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Six – An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
Seven – Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
Eight – Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
Nine – A.A., as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
Ten – Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues, hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
Eleven – Our public relations policy is based upon attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
Twelve – Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.