Tradition 1

Short Form:

“Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.”

Long Form:

“Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.”


Overriding Idea of T1:
We Before Me

Reading Assignment:
12&12: Pgs. 129-131


From the Foreword of the 12 & 12:  “A.A.’s Twelve Traditions apply to the life of the Fellowship itself. They outline the means by which A.A. maintains its unity and relates itself to the world about it, the way it lives and grows.”



Unity begins with an individual. Having unity within oneself and with one’s Higher Power is vital to expressing unity in any other relationship. When one is following the guidance and will of a Higher Power, inner balance is achieved and then the ability to participate in a healthy relationship is greatly improved. Thus the relationship’s unity is best serviced by each individual’s unity with a Higher Power.

The Twelve Steps produce recovery and enable us to match calamity with serenity without taking the first drink. Recovery is the restoration of our relationship with God through sobriety. Our happiness, though, is incomplete unless we expand our loving relationship with God to our relationships with each other.

The Traditions show us how to love each other. The principles of the group apply to the individual. Through working the principles of the traditions we carry out the steps in the world. We live in the solution, not the problem. We are united with each other in love. When we love, we want to serve. The concepts of service then show us how to love each other through being of service to the world. Hence, A.A. has the three-word motto, “Recovery-Unity-Service”, based on the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts of Service.

Since the bottom has risen in A.A. there has been a need to go beyond recovery into learning how to get and maintain relationships. We must apply the First Tradition in all areas our life (A.A., Work, Home, etc.) so our sobriety isn’t threatened. If we do not place our common welfare first, we could easily stay a loner and eventually drink out of loneliness.

Step-Tradition Parallel

Each tradition answers the question raised by the parallel step. The connection between the First Step and the First Tradition is that I am powerless over alcohol and have an unmanageable life, so I am dependent upon uniting myself with A.A. for my personal recovery. The Step states the problem and the Tradition states the solution. What do I do about my powerlessness and unmanageability? I join A.A. and place our common welfare first, since my personal recovery depends upon doing this.

(Excerpts from the text above come from the Traditions Study developed by the Unity Insures Recovery Through Service A.A. Group, Los Angeles, CA.)

Tradition Illustrated



As it states at the top of this page, the 12 Traditions were created to help each A.A. group maintain unity and relate better to the world about us.  With that in mind, they have been widely used in helping us learn how to be in better relationships with everyone in our life.  Below is a snapshot inventory you can take to see how well you are honoring the spiritual principle found in this Tradition (in and out of the rooms of A.A.).

(The foundation of this inventory is from the A.A. Tradition’s Checklist first published in the A.A. Grapevine)

  1. In my life, am I a healing, mending, integrating person, or 
am I divisive?
  2. Do I gossip under the guise of “helping”?
  3. Am I a peacemaker? Or do I, with pious preludes such as “just for the sake of discussion,” plunge into argument?
  4. Am I gentle with those who rub me the wrong way, or am I abrasive?
  5. Am I as considerate of those around me as I want them to be of me?
  6. Do I spout platitudes about love while indulging in and secretly justifying behavior that bristles with hostility?
  7. Do I share all of me, the bad and the good, accepting the help of those who care about me?
  8. How important is open-mindedness in a relationship?
  9. Are you more of a “giver” or a “taker” in your relationships?
  10. Do you have a balance in your relationships avoiding extremes?
  11. Do you use silence as a refuge or punishment while expecting others to read your mind?
  12. Can you be flexible in matters of what you want in a situation?
  13. Can you accept others as they are?
  14. How healthy are your current relationships?
  15. What action can you take to change your feelings about something or someone?
  16. In your current relationships what can you do personally to promote more unity?