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A Study of Tradition 3

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


Updated February 09, 2014

Although the qualifications for membership in 12 step support groups is specifically defined, generally it is the individual members themselves that decide if the "belong" to the group or not.

Alcoholic Anonymous
Tradition 3
: The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

Tradition 3
: The relatives of alcoholics, when gathered together for mutual aid, may call themselves an Al-Anon Family Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.

Both Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon open their doors and offer fellowship to anyone who fits the eligibility outlined in Tradition 3 and generally leave that determination up to the individual. Basically those who attend these 12 step meetings either feel a sense of "belonging" or they do not and move on.

The reason that Tradition 3 was emphasized by the founders of the 12 step programs was to protect the fellowship from outside influences; to insure that the meetings would maintain their primary focus and not be diluted by the influx of others issues or influences.

Some old timers today believe that the fellowship has in fact been diluted by the inclusion into its meetings those who are primarily dealing with issues other than problems with alcohol, such as drug abuse. They feel that the program has gotten away from its spiritual foundations and primary purpose and may become diluted to the point of ineffectiveness.

But there is always two sides to every issue. Visitors to the Mining Co. Alcoholism site have added their comments to this discussion on the bulletin board. Here are their observations:

More about Tradition 3

No Other Affiliation
"I think it means meetings such as "women in recovery" or "Christians in recovery" are going against this tradition because they have to first be affiliated with another group."

Let God Do the Judging
"Thank God they didn't tell me that I wasn't welcome, because now I was not only an alcoholic but messed up on drugs too."

Alcohol is a Drug
"The feelings are the same and so are the recovery techniques whether you call it Alanon or NarAnon."

Freedom to Choose
"I want AA to be there whenever someone reaches out for help. Just as it was for me."

Back to The Twelve Traditions Study

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