Tradition 10

Short Form:

“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”

Long Form:

“No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues — particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.”


Overriding Idea of T10:
Outside Issues Can Tear Us Apart

Reading Assignment:
12&12: Pgs. 176-179


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.”


Outside Issues Can Tear Us Apart

What is an outside issue? An outside issue is anything outside of my relationship with God through sobriety.

The tenth tradition is rather clear as it applies to A.A. We have prospered by having no opinion on outside matters and not being drawn into controversy. For instance, A.A. has avoided the outside issues that tore apart the Washingtonians. A.A. has never become crusaders or taken stands on important but outside issues, “particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion”. (See the long form of this tradition)

Bill Wilson differentiates the responsibilities of the A.A. member and the A.A. group in this tradition by saying on p. 177 of the “12 & 12” that the tenth tradition does not “mean that the members of Alcoholics Anonymous, now restored as citizens of the world, are going to back away from their individual responsibilities to act as they see the right upon issues of our time. But when it comes to A.A. as a whole, that’s quite a different matter. In this respect, we do not enter into public controversy because we know that our society will perish if it does.”

Step-Tradition Parallel

The relationship of the tenth tradition to the tenth step is this: I can be at peace and avoid outside issues by taking my inventory and not yours. I avoid controversy by taking stands with the attitude of a peacemaker. The tenth concept of service takes the process one step further and specifies what kind of inventory I should be writing about: The responsibilities for which God has given me authority.

The tenth step poses the question, “How can I survive successfully in the world by taking my own inventory and promptly admitting it when I am wrong?” The tenth tradition supplies the answer; “I survive by being a peacemaker with you because I am at peace with myself through my own inventories.”

(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. Do I ever give the impression that there really is an “AA opinion” on Antabuse? Tranquilizers? Doctors? Psychiatrists? Churches? Hospitals? Jails? Alcohol? The federal or state government? Legalizing marijuana? Vitamins? Al-Anon? Alateen?
  2. Can I honestly share my own personal experience concerning any of those without giving the impression I am stating the “AA opinion”?
  3. What in AA history gave rise to our Tenth Tradition?
  4. Have I had a similar experience in my own AA life?
  5. What would AA be without this Tradition? Where would I be?
  6. Do I breach this or any of its supporting Traditions in subtle, perhaps unconscious, ways?
  7. How can I manifest the spirit of this Tradition in my personal life outside AA? Inside AA?