Following the Jack Alexander article, Bill spent 3 years answering letters from groups across the USA. As many of the questions were the same, Bill realised that AA groups needed some help to run their own affairs.
The Traditions were not rules or commands but guidelines needed by AA groups to protect their unity, autonomy and anonymity. Most essential was a common purpose and a refusal to be distracted by outside issues.
Bill presented the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous to the AA convention at Cleveland in 1950 and they were accepted into the fellowship.
The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
- 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.
- The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
- 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.
- Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- 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.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
While the Twelve Traditions are not specifically binding on any group or groups, an overwhelming majority of members have adopted them as the basis for AA’s expanding “internal” and public relationships.