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The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous

The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous
To understand the concepts of AA you have to dig deep or attend a workshop/step speaker series on these important components of the program.

A lot of groups don’t teach the concepts and a number of Alcoholics Anonymous members are not familiar with them. It is best to have some sobriety under your belt before you attempt to familiarize yourself and study the concepts because they are complex.

Here, then are the 12 Concepts of AA as referenced on Page 574 of Alcoholics Anonymous’ textbook, also known as “The Big Book”:

Concept 1 – Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our fellowship. 
This means that the fellowship is guided by rules and regulations that may not be changed by any authority other than the main headquarters’ trusted servants and that the proper channels have to be gone through for any changes to take place.

Concept 2 – The General Service Conference of A.A. has become, for nearly every practical purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole Society in world affairs. 

Concept 3 – To insure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A. – the Conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs, committees, and executives – with a traditional “Right of Decision”. 

Concept 4 – At all responsible levels, we ought to maintain a traditional “Right of Participation”, allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge. This translates into meaning that every decision from whether to add a meeting to a schedule to changing the format of meetings has to be pre-approved through a business or group conscience meeting.

Concept 5 – Throughout our structure, a traditional “Right of Appeal” ought to prevail, so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive careful consideration. This usually takes place at the business meeting which any member is welcome to attend.

Concept 6 – The Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility in most world service matters should be exercised by the trustee members of the Conference acting as the General Service Board. This board is the final authority that our fellowship turns to in all matters, controversial and not.

Concept 7 – The Charter and Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments, empowering the trustees to manage and conduct world service affairs. The Conference Charter is not a legal document; it relies upon tradition and the A.A. purse for final effectiveness. 

Concept 8 – The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of these entities. This would apply to secretary and treasurer positions among others.

Concept 9 – Good service leadership at all levels is indispensable for our future functioning and safety. Primary world service leadership, once exercised by the founders, must necessarily be assumed by the trustees. 

Concept 10 – Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined. 

Concept 11 – The trustees should always have the best possible committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Composition, qualification, induction procedures, and rights and duties will always be matters of serious concern. The definition of this concept is that our program takes seriously all responsible members of each committee and the duties they perform. 

Concept 12 – The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, and that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action. 

This means that we don’t have anyone “in charge” in AA; that we are all but trusted servants.

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