About The Third Tradition

The third of the 12 Traditions sets the eligibility requirements of joining AA or Al-Anon. The one thing that makes anyone eligible to participate is the desire to stop drinking. In Al-Anon, there are family members of alcoholics who are struggling with their loved one’s alcoholism that can form a “family group”. This can be done so long as they are not associated with any outside groups. AA and Al-Anon invite any individual or family member that is struggling with alcoholism to join. The individual will always have the final determination to either join the group or not. This tradition was designed to protect AA from any outside influences. These outside influences could pose a roadblock for the group’s mission.

Because of this third tradition, AA’s mission is to include those who have a desire to stop drinking and only that. Including those with other addictions such as drugs could create confusion. That is why such 12 step groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) was formed. While they follow the same 12 steps and traditions as AA, NA’s purpose is to help a member overcome drug addiction. There is no “big tent” 12 step group that deals with the kinds of addictions people are faced with. Keep in mind that for every addiction, there may be a 12 step group that is created solely for the purpose of recovery for its members.

Earlier, it was stated that the individual has the final determination to join AA or not. AA believes in the freedom of choice of each of their members. Even if an individual has the desire to quit drinking, they can’t be forced to join AA. Yet, for those in search of encouragement and a means of support, AA is the likely source. Of course, there are those who are struggling and are not comfortable to share it with anyone outside of the group. It is for this reason that “closed meetings” exist.

Those in AA and other 12 step program have also been able to use the traditions to help other individuals. Those in AA are well aware of the struggles an individual with addiction faces and know that such a 12 step program exists for it. Members have come to realize that no one who asks for help should be turned away. In any 12 step program, the lesson is always to be willing to help when someone who is struggling asks.