Below is only the "Introduction" section to our booklet The Twelve Traditions of Nicotine Anonymous (Extended Version). For a complete copy of the explanations for all Twelve Traditions, please click on the Order Now button to the right.
Whenever a society or civilization perishes, there is always one condition present; they forgot where they came from. - Carl Sandburg
The Twelve Steps, based on ancient and universal spiritual principles, describe a personal path for our recovery. The power of individual recovery is in one member carrying the message to the next, without any thought of personal gain or financial reward - and it works.
The Twelve Traditions are to recovery fellowships what the Twelve Steps are to the individual. They have spiritual significance separately and as an equal partner to the Steps. Groups are encouraged to give adequate time to discuss the Traditions; while sponsors can emphasize this wisdom to newcomers. If the Traditions are watered down, diluted or abandoned, a group’s survival or an individual’s recovery may be placed at risk.
Bill Wilson (co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous) first drafted the Traditions as a distillation of the shared experiences of the early Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups. They are the result of trial and error, sometimes serious error. He expanded them into their present form and they were adopted in 1950 at the AA International Convention held in Cleveland.
The Traditions have withstood the test of time. They provide a tried-and-true guide for groups while still allowing for individuality. As Wilson poignantly notes in AA’s first tradition- “On anvils of experience, the structure of our Society was hammered out.”
The Traditions were developed over time in response to problems as they arose. They are based on experience particular to the common welfare of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our fellowship has adopted them because they have served AA well.
Our fellowship is non-commercial and non-professional, our leaders but trusted servants. No member can tell another, “You can’t do that,” or “You must do this.” If a group fails to observe the Traditions, it risks the possibility of confusion and conflict. Confusion and conflict may turn newcomers away, depriving them of the benefits Nicotine Anonymous has to offer.
The Traditions provide form and unity to our entire fellowship. They help guide local groups in a way that has worked at bringing recovery to many people over many years. They gently keep the focus on our primary purpose and ensure that any member of our fellowship can go to any meeting and find the same basic spiritual principles at work. They foster a safe place for each individual by stressing the importance of group unity. Humility is the foundation on which the Traditions are built. The Traditions protect our fellowship from our individual shortcomings; they protect us from ourselves and keep us right-sized, just like the Steps.
May we all continue to deepen our understanding of these principles so that our recovery and our fellowship continue to grow and serve all those who seek freedom from nicotine.