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When it comes to the 12 step process of recovery, people know about the meetings, they may know about the steps and the idea of a sponsor, but what many never knew until they began the program, was the idea of the three legacies. The three legacies of the 12 step process of recovery are recovery, unity, and service, each which coincides with and is reached by the 12 steps, the 12 traditions, and the 12 concepts of service.
The 12 Steps and Recovery
The first of the three legacies, recovery is reached through the 12 steps. They are the foundation upon which recovery is built and create the path on which it is found.
- We admit we are powerless over alcohol (or addiction) and that our lives have become unmanageable.
- Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
- Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
- Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and becoming willing to make amends to them all.
- Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admit it.
- Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contract with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Have a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, try to carry this message to alcoholics (and addicts) and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12 Traditions and Unity
The second of the 12 step legacies, unity is forged through the fellowship and the 12 traditions of AA and NA. While the steps are designed for the individuals, the traditions are built to help the group function in a logical and helpful manner.
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on AA (or NA) unity.
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking (or using).
- Each group should be autonomous expect in matters affecting our groups or AA (or NA) as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry the message to the alcoholic (or addict) who still suffers.
- An AA group (or NA group) ought never endorse, finance, or lend the name to any related facility or outside enterprise, least problems of money, property, or prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every AA group (or NA) out to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- AA (and NA) should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- AA (and NA), as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- AA (and NA) has no opinion on outside issues; hence the name out never be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
The 12 Concepts of Service
The last of the legacies, the 12 concepts of world service are principles that govern the service organization as a whole.
- The ultimate responsibility and authority for AA (or NA) would services belongs to the AA (or NA) groups.
- The AA groups have delegated complete administrative and operational authority to their conference and its service arms.
- The right of decision makes effective leadership possible.
- Participation is the key to harmony.
- The rights of appeal and petition promote minorities and insure that they be heard.
- The Conference acknowledges the primary administrative responsibility of the Trustees.
- The Trustees have legal rights while the rights of the Conference are traditional.
- The Board of Trustees delegates full authority for routine management of headquarters to its executive committees.
- Good personal leadership at all service levels is a necessity. In the field of world service, the Board of Trustees assumes the primary leadership.
- Service responsibility is balanced by carefully defined service authority and double headed management is avoided.
- The World Service Office is composed of selected committees, executives and staff members.
- The spiritual foundation for AA’s world services is contained in the General Warranties of the Conference.
These three legacies create the triangle symbol, while the circle that surrounds them represents the whole 12 step world. These 36 guiding principles detail how the groups function, from the individual to the world level.