When I first came to Al‑Anon, the Twelve Steps were baffling enough to me. It took some time before I saw how the Twelve Traditions applied to the meetings I attended. Back then, the idea of applying them to my personal life was unimaginable. As for the Twelve Concepts of Service, I hadn’t even heard of them. There’s a reason our first pamphlet about them was subtitled Al‑Anon’s Best Kept Secret?
However, as I grew in the program, I realized that there will always be something new for me to learn—both about myself and the Al‑Anon program. Today I rely on all three of our Legacies and the spiritual principles they embody. Looking at Al‑Anon’s history, it seems my experience is similar to that of our fellowship as a whole. In 1951, Al‑Anon’s first group conscience decision was to approve the Twelve Steps. Approval of the Traditions came in 1952, and the Concepts in 1970. It wasn’t until 1984 that the World Service Conference gave all three Legacies equal stature.
Conference Approved Literature, always a reflection of the fellowship, was very gradual in acknowledging the importance of applying all three Legacies to our personal lives. When the book Al‑Anon’s Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions (B-8) was introduced in 1981, the introduction to the Traditions section stated, “They can also be applied to many family and personal situations.” However, it had no examples of how to do this. From 1988 on, The Forum magazine began featuring articles from members about using the Traditions in personal recovery. Throughout 1990, The Forum’s back page on the Traditions also included a paragraph applying each one to our families.
The popularity of these articles indicated that the fellowship was interested in this topic, and the Literature Committee paid attention. As a result, the World Service Conference approved several pieces that include personal application of the Traditions and the Concepts, including Paths to Recovery (B-24), Hope for Today (B-27), Discovering Choices—Recovery in Relationships (B-30) (which has an entire chapter on applying the Traditions and Concepts to our personal relationships), Reaching for Personal Freedom—Living the Legacies (P-92), and new wording added to How Al‑Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics (B-32) in 2008. In January of this year, the new Member Blog at al‑anon.org/member-blog began providing an additional opportunity for all members to write and read about all three Legacies. Furthermore, with your help, every issue of The Forum includes an article about the Traditions and Concepts—usually about personal application.
I am very grateful to see how far our fellowship has grown in sharing how we practice all of our Legacies in our lives. It gives me further inspiration and ideas for applying them to my own life.
By Tom C., Associate Director—Literature
The Forum, June 2020
New to service, I started my second official District meeting being asked to choose a Tradition to speak about at an upcoming meeting. I found information about Tradition Four by reading How Al-Anon Works and The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. This exercise helped me broaden my understanding of Traditions in general.
Your article brings my attitude about trying to hurry the process in line with the purpose of Al-Anon, growth. I was trying to “finish”.
Thank you so much. The info given about the expansion of the use of the Traditions and Concepts helps to fill in blanks for me. I wondered how l had missed so much. I am so grateful for opening up a whole world of info/help . Thank you
This was so helpful, thank you for sharing.