The 12 Traditions
- Our common welfare should come first;
personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
Am I in my
group a healing, mending, integrating person, or am I
divisive? What about gossip and taking other members’
Am I a
peacemaker? Or do I, with pious preludes such as “just for
the sake of discussion,” plunge into argument?
Am I gentle
with those who rub me the wrong way, or am I abrasive?
Do I make
competitive AA remarks, such as comparing one group with
another or contrasting AA in one place with AA in another?
Do I put down
some AA activities as if I were superior for not
participating in this or that aspect of AA?
Am I informed
about AA as a whole? Do I support, in every way I can, AA as
a whole, or just the parts I understand and approve of?
Am I as
considerate of AA members as I want them to be of me?
Do I spout
platitudes about love while indulging in and secretly
justifying behavior that bristles with hostility?
Do I go to
enough AA meetings or read enough AA literature to really
keep in touch?
Do I share
with AA all of me, the bad and the good, accepting as well
as giving the help of fellowship?
- 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
criticize or do I trust and support my group officers, AA
committees, and office workers? Newcomers? Old-timers?
absolutely trustworthy, even in secret, with AA Twelfth Step
jobs or other AA responsibility?
Do I look for
credit in my AA jobs? Praise for my AA ideas?
Do I have to
save face in group discussion, or can I yield in good spirit
to the group conscience and work cheerfully along with it?
have been sober a few years, am I still willing to serve my
turn at AA chores?
discussions, do I sound off about matters on which I have no
experience and little knowledge?
- The only requirement for AA membership
is a desire to stop drinking.
In my mind,
do I prejudge some new AA members as losers?
Is there some
kind of alcoholic whom I privately do not want in my AA
Do I set
myself up as a judge of whether a newcomer is sincere or
Do I let
language, religion (or lack of it), race, education, age, or
other such things interfere with my carrying the message?
overimpressed by a celebrity? By a doctor, a clergyman, an
ex-convict? Or can I just treat this new member simply and
naturally as one more sick human, like the rest of us?
turns up at AA needing information or help (even if he can’t
ask for it aloud), does it really matter to me what he does
for a living? Where he lives? What his domestic arrangements
are? Whether he had been to AA before? What his other
- Each group should be autonomous except in
matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
Do I insist
that there are only a few right ways of doing things in AA?
Does my group
always consider the welfare of the rest of AA? Of nearby
groups? Of Loners in Alaska? Of Internationalists miles from
port? Of a group in Rome or El Salvador?
Do I put down
other members’ behavior when it is different from mine, or
do I learn from it?
Do I always
bear in mind that, to those outsiders who know I am in AA, I
may to some extent represent our entire beloved Fellowship?
Am I willing
to help a newcomer go to any lengths—his lengths, not
mine—to stay sober?
Do I share my
knowledge of AA tools with other members who may not have
heard of them?
- Each group has but one primary purpose—to
carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Do I ever cop
out by saying, “I’m not a group, so this or that Tradition
doesn’t apply to me”?
Am I willing
to explain firmly to a newcomer the limitations of AA help,
even if he gets mad at me for not giving him a loan?
Have I today
imposed on any AA member for a special favor or
consideration simply because I am a fellow alcoholic?
Am I willing
to twelfth-step the next newcomer without regard to who or
what is in it for me?
Do I help my
group in every way I can to fulfill our primary purpose?
Do I remember
that AA old-timers, too, can be alcoholics who still suffer?
Do I try both to help them and to learn from them?
- An AA group ought never endorse, finance,
or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside
enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige
divert us from our primary purpose.
fellow group members and I go out and raise money to endow
several AA beds in our local hospital?
Is it good
for a group to lease a small building?
Are all the
officers and members of our local club for AAs familiar with
“Guidelines on Clubs” (which is available free from GSO)?
secretary of our group serve on the mayor’s advisory
committee on alcoholism?
alcoholics will stay around AA only if we have a TV and card
room. If this is what is required to carry the message to
them, should we have these facilities?
- Every AA group ought to be fully
self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
do I do all I can to help AA (my group, my central office,
my GSO) remain self-supporting? Could I put a little more
into the basket on behalf of the new guy who can’t afford it
yet? How generous was I when tanked in a barroom?
Grapevine sell advertising space to book publishers and drug
companies, so it could make a big profit and become a bigger
magazine, in full color, at a cheaper price per copy?
If GSO runs
short of funds some year, wouldn’t it be okay to let the
government subsidize AA groups in hospitals and prisons?
Is it more
important to get a big AA collection from a few people, or a
smaller collection in which more members participate?
Is a group
treasurer’s report unimportant AA business? How does the
treasurer feel about it?
in my recovery is the feeling of self-respect, rather than
the feeling of being always under obligation for charity
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain
forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ
Is my own
behavior accurately described by the Traditions? If not,
what needs changing?
When I chafe
about any particular Tradition, do I realize how it affects
sometimes try to get some reward—even if not money—for my
personal AA efforts?
Do I try to
sound in AA like an expert on alcoholism? On recovery? On
medicine? On sociology? On AA itself? On psychology? On
spiritual matters? Or, heaven help me, even on humility?
Do I make an
effort to understand what AA employees do? What workers in
other alcoholism agencies do? Can I distinguish clearly
In my own AA
life, have I any experiences which illustrate the wisdom of
Have I paid
enough attention to the book Twelve Steps and Twelve
Traditions? To the pamphlet AA Tradition—How It Developed?
- AA, as such, ought never be organized;
but we may create service boards or committees directly
responsible to those they serve.
Do I still
try to boss things in AA?
Do I resist
formal aspects of AA because I fear them as authoritative?
Am I mature
enough to understand and use all elements of the AA
program—even if no one makes me do so—with a sense of
Do I exercise
patience and humility in any AA job I take?
Am I aware of
all those to whom I am responsible in any AA job?
every AA group need a constitution and bylaws?
learned to step out of an AA job gracefully—and profit
thereby—when the time comes?
rotation to do with anonymity? With humility?
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on
outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into
Do I ever
give the impression that there really is an “AA opinion” on
Antabuse? Tranquilizers? Doctors? Psychiatrists? Churches?
Hospitals? Jails? Alcohol? The federal or state government?
Legalizing marijuana? Vitamins? Al-Anon? Alateen?
honestly share my own personal experience concerning any of
those without giving the impression I am stating the “AA
What in AA
history gave rise to our Tenth Tradition?
Have I had a
similar experience in my own AA life?
What would AA
be without this Tradition? Where would I be?
Do I breach
this or any of its supporting Traditions in subtle, perhaps
How can I
manifest the spirit of this Tradition in my personal life
outside AA? Inside AA?
- Our public relations policy is based on
attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain
personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
sometimes promote AA so fanatically that I make it seem
Am I always
careful to keep the confidences reposed in me as an AA
Am I careful
about throwing AA names around—even within the Fellowship?
Am I ashamed
of being a recovered, or recovering, alcoholic?
What would AA
be like if we were not guided by the ideas in Tradition
Eleven? Where would I be?
Is my AA
sobriety attractive enough that a sick drunk would want such
a quality for himself?
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation
of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles
Why is it
good idea for me to place the common welfare of all AA
members before individual welfare? What would happen to me
if AA as a whole disappeared?
When I do not
trust AA’s current servants, who do I wish had the authority
to straighten them out?
opinions of and remarks about other AAs, am I implying
membership requirements other than a desire to stay sober?
Do I ever try
to get a certain AA group to conform to my standards, not
Have I a
personal responsibility in helping an AA group fulfill its
primary purpose? What is my part?
personal behavior reflect the Sixth Tradition—or belie it?
Do I do all I
can do to support AA financially? When is the last time I
anonymously gave away a Grapevine subscription?
Do I complain
about certain AAs’ behavior—especially if they are paid to
work for AA? Who made me so smart?
Do I fulfill
all AA responsibilities in such a way as to please privately
even my own conscience? Really?
utterances always reflect the Tenth Tradition, or do I give
AA critics real ammunition?
Should I keep
my AA membership a secret, or reveal it in private
conversation when that may help another alcoholic (and
therefore me)? Is my brand of AA so attractive that other
drunks want it?
What is the
real importance of me among more than a million AAs?
Checklist - from the A.A. Grapevine / Service Material
is from the
General Service Office:
These questions were originally published in the AA Grapevine in
conjunction with a series on
the Twelve Traditions that began in
November 1969 and ran through September 1971.
While they were
originally intended primarily for individual use,
many AA groups
have since used them as a basis for wider discussion.