Our rules are embodied in the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. We’ve included a list of those Twelve Traditions, along with brief explanations for most of them to clarify things a bit. If you have any questions about something we haven’t mentioned here, we encourage you to talk to your sponsor.
1) Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity. Our fellowship exists to share our experiences and support each other. Insults, interruptions, and judgmental comments are strongly discouraged.
2) 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. While Alcoholics Anonymous is not affiliated with any religion, religious group or sect, one of our 12 Steps is reliance on a higher power. This power can be anything more powerful than yourself – love, the human spirit, or even the A.A. community. The important thing is that none of us, not even our leaders, are capable of sobriety on their own. We are all alcoholics helping each-other. Nobody is “the boss.”
3) The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking. We welcome people of all genders, ethnicities, national origins, political beliefs, sexual orientations, and religious beliefs. If you want to stop drinking, you are welcome.
4) Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups, or A.A. as a whole. A.A. is not a top-down organization. The strength of your local group comes from your local members.
5) Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. The last step of our 12-Step program is to help others to become and stay sober. This helps the person who is still suffering, and by focusing on service to others, it also helps the rest of us.
6) An A.A. group ought never to endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside the enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7) Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. This is related to the previous point. By supporting ourselves, we remain autonomous and focused on our goals.
8) Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers. Your sponsor and group leader are not paid, therapists. They are alcoholics like you who are there to share and help others.
9) A.A., as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10) Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues, hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. We understand that alcoholics are more than just our addiction. Many of us have strong beliefs about other matters, but these issues can often be divisive and harm our community. We expect our discussions to remain focused on sobriety. Neither A.A. or any local groups are allowed to endorse political candidates, advocate for or against public policies, or express any opinion of any kind on issues not directly related to our members getting and staying sober.
11) 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. One of A.A.’s core values is humility. Nobody should be ashamed of being an A.A. member, but giving interviews, promoting A.A. on social media, etc. violate our core value of humility.
12) Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. Many of our members wish to keep their membership in A.A. secret. Some might face serious personal or professional consequences if it became known that they are an alcoholic. For this reason, we ask that our members never divulge the identity of other members to people outside their group.