The Twelve Traditions are the principles that keep 12-step support groups (or any group), focused on their primary task of fellowship. The Twelve Traditions serve as the framework by which the internal operations of all 12-step programs operate.
Take a look at this great blog where Carolyn explains Tradition One, which really, when you think of it, it’s simply common sense and it’s been proven to work!
Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on our group unity.
The traditions are here to protect the group from the individual, so the group will be there to help the individual. For Tradition One, we need to keep the “essence” of the group ahead of our egos.
So many of the traditions are tied to this one; the group conscience, being autonomous – except when it can hurt the fellowship, having no affiliations, having no opinion on outside issues, and principals before personalities. This is important to the fellowship to succeed.
For example, a group probably shouldn’t revolve around one person. If one is doing too much, the others can’t do anything. And it becomes that person’s “job” to keep the meeting together. It is fine, when starting a group to be the “go-to” person for all commitments, but once it gets up and running if it can’t live without you – then is it about YOU or the FELLOWSHIP?
I’ve started two meetings, one in AA and one in HA. Funny enough, same location and time. The AA meeting lasted nearly 2 years. I learned a lot about the unity in the fellowship. We were a step meeting and I know it helped many people, because they told me, and I saw them grow. However, I was the chairperson, I had the key, I made the coffee, I bought the coffee, I bought all the supplies, it was a lot of “I did this, and I did that.”
The group took a group conscience and decided that I should not be responsible to buy coffee and snacks. If the meeting wasn’t making enough money in donations, we just shouldn’t have them. We followed the group’s directive.
Once it became clear that others had to share in the meeting, it was hard to get volunteers, so we took a group conscience and decided the meeting served its purpose and closed it. I still miss the meeting, but it was the right thing to do. This is another example of unity.
We are all supposed to be involved so it IS our “common welfare” – if we aren’t a part of the meeting, then we aren’t part of the meeting. That little word “a” makes a big difference in our long-term recovery – as individuals and as a group.
With the HA group I started, it just never got on its feet. First, there were three people, then down to two people. We only saw 6 other people in the 7 months of meetings. Could we have kept going? Sure. This last week, the two members had a discussion. We came to believe the meeting just wasn’t going to work out. We decided how to divide up our treasury – 50% to church 50% to HAWS. We then talked about how we can still be of service to the fellowship. We plan to take meetings into hospitals or institutions. So even though the meeting didn’t “live on” the message of recovery still will.
In another meeting that I attend, the “founder” of the meeting chose to have a business meeting, and at that time, we created positions for each of the homegroup members. They were nominated, accepted, and voted in. It was wonderful to see the people building the meeting like that.
One of my favorite expressions of HA unity is when we have a newcomer. We had a new woman come to our meeting; the four other women went over to introduce themselves and exchanged phone numbers with her. She felt very welcomed, and not “as scared as she thought she’d be”.
Being part of a fellowship, watching friendships build among us – this is something we don’t want to miss out on!
Be a part of, get involved. You will get back 1000 times more than you give! Trust me, I’ve never regretted any of my sobriety service time. After every event, or meeting, or step work… I feel rejuvenated. I feel a sense of purpose. I love being able to look at myself in the mirror and say: Not only do I love who I am, but I LIKE who I am.
Come see us if you have a problem or even THINK you have a problem. We’d rather have you in the “rooms” by mistake than out drinking or drugging (and most likely dying) by mistake.
You are welcome. You are appreciated. You matter.
I am forever grateful for the programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Heroin Anonymous.
– Carolyn Smith