Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Tradition III

Short form: 'The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.'

Long form: 'Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought AA membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group, provided that, as a group, they have no other



  • There's a requirement at all, because commonality of purpose gives focus to meetings and identification is the key to the success of AA and in fact the only unique element to the programme.
  • There's only one requirement because the addition of other requirements would exclude people and thus defeat the purpose: that our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism.
  • Although there is only one overt requirement, this requirement is implicitly being an alcoholic who has a desire to stop drinking. People who have a desire to stop drinking who can stop or moderate on their own have nothing to offer AA in terms of its primary purpose as they do not have the problem AA seeks to solve.
  • One does not need to attain sobriety to join AA.
  • The implicit requirement being an alcoholic who has a desire to stop drinking is further extended by the long form: being an alcoholic who has a desire to stop drinking and recover; it is legitimate to ask people in AA if they wish to recover and to politely move on if they do not.
  • Expenses incurred in performing service should always be claimed so that the tradition is not established of particular service roles requiring solvency on the part of the individual to fund them.
  • Fellowship gatherings outside meetings should be at economical locations (or at locations where a person need not buy any food or beverage) to enable everyone to participate.
  • Meetings that require particular dress codes, sponsorship within the group to claim membership, the avoidance of swearing, or other behavioural norms are in overt breach of Tradition III.
  • Groups that overtly attempt to skew membership towards particular groups (groups based on gender, age, sexuality, profession, etc.) or invitation-only groups are in overt breach of Tradition III.
  • A further problem with special interest groups is that the siphoning off of, say, gay and lesbian members into gay and lesbian groups strips mainstream groups of gay and lesbian attendance, thus making it less likely that gay and lesbian newcomers attending a mainstream meeting will find other gays and lesbians there. Such groups therefore skew the demographics across the fellowship as a whole.
  • There are legitimate reasons for special interest groups, however, which I will not go into here; it can be justified to hold and list them in breach of Tradition III in favour of the overall purpose of AA, which is to achieve sobriety. The point is not that they are not a breach of Tradition III: the point is that breaches are sometimes warranted.
  • Using non-AA literature at AA meetings overtly breaches Tradition III as it tacitly endorses outside publications or approaches to recovery or spirituality.

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