The 12 Traditions are to the health of the group what the 12 Steps are to an individual’s recovery. This secular version is reprinted with permission of AA Agnostica.
- Common welfare comes first. Personal recovery depends on group unity.
- Group Conscience is the group’s authority. Decisions are arrived at by group conscience. Minority ideas get thoughtful attention. Leaders themselves have no authority; they are trusted servants.
- The only requirement for membership is to show up at a meeting. There are no other membership requirements, no rules and no dues.
- Each group is autonomous. Its only responsibility is to work with the Steps and to follow the 12 Traditions.
- Each group has one purpose: to be a support for recovering people.
- Groups never endorse, finance or associate with outside related enterprises. There must be a clear boundary between 12-Step groups and programs, such as treatment facilities, counseling services, workshops, support groups and so on.
- Every group is fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. This keeps groups independent. Non-members may not donate money, goods or meeting space. A collection taken at meetings pays for rent and supplies.
- Groups are non-professional. Service to the group is volunteer and is done without pay.
- Structure: Organization within a group and among groups is kept to a minimum.
- Groups have no opinion on outside issues. This neutrality on all issues keeps groups from being drawn into public controversy.
- Public relations policy is based on attracting members to the program, rather than promoting it. Member’s anonymity is always maintained in the public eye and in the media.
- Anonymity is the foundation of all the traditions. Groups are guided by the principles of the Steps, not by personalities.
OA 12 Traditions
OA’s interpretation of the Traditions is more conservative than other 12-Step programs. For instance, AA has a more open understanding of Tradition Four, and they allow groups to use outside literature if the group agrees (called “group conscience”). OA adds caveats and puts its foot down when a group conscience decision is “harmful to OA as a whole.” The OA Trustees, who are elected and entrusted by OA fellows, are the ultimate arbiters of OA protocol. They are very clear they consider using non-conference approved literature and alternative Steps as harmful. If OA meetings do use outside literature or Steps, they risk being “delisted.” They can still call themselves an OA meeting, but they cannot belong to an Intergroup or have their meetings listed on official OA websites (and that’s why some of our meetings are designated “unregistered”).