Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Step and Tradition, Big Book and Basic Text Meetings

Step (Step and Tradition) Meetings

The Twelve Steps, as originated by Alcoholics Anonymous and adopted by more than 100 other fellowships, are the basis of most programs of recovery. We need to understand them thoroughly, and we ave meetings dedicated to their study. There are also meetings that discuss the Twelve Traditions, which guide members' conduct within the fellowships.

These meetings usually follow a format that involves reading some or all of an article about the step or tradition from the appropriate source. Often the reading duties are shared around the room in succession. This is done in two distinct ways, and it is up to each group how their meetings are formatted. In one case, the entire selection is read and then discussed. In the other, each person reads a paragraph, which is then discussed by all until the topic “runs out of steam,” at which time the next paragraph is read and discussed. Although it takes much longer to get through all the steps and/or traditions in this way, it makes for an exhaustive and illuminating study.

The text for step and tradition meetings in AA is usually the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, written by Bill Wilson over several years time and based on the input and experiences of AA members. Narcotics Anonymous uses its Basic Text (see below).

Big Book and Basic Text Meetings

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, written in the late 1930’s by William (Bill) Wilson (with input from the first 100 members of AA), is the ancestor of all Twelve Step programs. Were it not for this book, millions of alcoholics and addicts—not to mention codependents and others—would still be suffering today. The “Big Book,” as it is affectionately known, has been on nearly every list of “Most Important” books of the 20th Century.

Big Book and Basic Text study meetings are generally carried out in the same manners as Step and Step/Tradition meetings. Some AA meetings concentrate on only the first 164 pages of the Big Book, the “instructions” section of the volume, while others consider not only that portion, but the 410 pages of personal stories and appendices that follow.

Narcotics Anonymous has seen fit to put into one volume, the information that AA has put into two, the Big Book and the “Twelve and Twelve.” Thus, the Basic Text contains most of the material used for literature study.