A Study of Tradition 1

The 12 Traditions of A.A. and Al-Anon

Circle of empty chairs
Tradition 1: Group Unity. Daly and Newton/Getty Images

Without a commitment to unity within each group, members of 12 step support groups find it extremely difficult to focus on their personal journey toward recovery.

Tradition 1. Our common welfare should come first; personal progress depends upon unity (paraphrase).

As the 12 Steps lay a spiritual foundation for a path of recovery for individual members, the 12 Traditions provide the principles that keep the group strong and healthy, and it begins with the first tradition -- an emphasis on unity.

If groups become drawn into controversy or become dominated by individuals, or for any other reason jeopardize the unity of the group, it will cease to thrive and very easily can fall apart. Individual members may drift away and perhaps even leave the program.

Both Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Family Groups make certain that the "minority" opinion on any issue is given the opportunity to be heard. As a group prepares to make a decision, all sides of an issue are given consideration.

But all members of a group must be willing to accept the majority opinion and work together to put the decision into action, for the sake of unity. One stubborn or strong-willed member can destroy the group's ability to work together for the common welfare of all.

A free exchange of ideas and discussion of the issues is healthy for group growth, as long as all members are sincerely committed to protecting the primary purpose of the group by keeping principles above personalities.

Many times newcomers to twelve-step groups will concentrate on the twelve steps while ignoring valuable lessons that are found within the traditions. The traditions are guidelines for making decisions that affect the group and the fellowship as a whole, but there are also many principles in the traditions that can be applied to each member's personal life.

This first tradition, for example, can be applied to the family. The family's common welfare should come first and each family member's progress depends on how unified in purpose the family becomes.

Allowing each member of the family to be heard, and have their opinion respected, can go a long way to creating a healthy family atmosphere, whether the rest of the family agrees with that opinion or not.

Back to The Twelve Traditions Study

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