Tradition 8 & Checklist

The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles that hold our groups and society together.

Tradition 8 & Checklist

Postby Tommy-S » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:55 pm

Tradition Eight, Long Form: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we may otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. "12th Step" work is never to be paid for.

AA needs money to operate, though Tradition 7 asks we keep no more that a prudent reserve to continue fulfillment of our “Responsibility Pledge”, but we do NOT get paid for 12 Step work.

“Freely have ye received, freely give...professionalize our Twelfth Step, the result has been the same: Our single purpose has been defeated. Alcoholics will not listen to a paid twelfth-stepper.” (12 x 12, pg 167)


Maybe its something in the ‘alcoholic’ gene, or part of the alcoholic personality that kept me on the look-out for the ‘angles’. I always thought, “And how much do you have to make before I am well?” when faced with a paid-professional. (I'm better today, and have respect for those very same folks who labor so hard to help others).

This non-professional aspect was a life-saver, as I looked suspiciously at those old drunks who were trying to help me, wondering what they got out of it, when they told me, “We stay sober trying to help someone else. Period. You may or may not make it, but you’re helping us.”

However, when we have non-12 step functions such as sweeping the floor or maintaining the building we meet in, paying reasonable wage to one qualified or skilled, even if also an AA member (rather than allowing Shakey the New Guy to volunteer to replace the roof) is perfectly OK (and maybe safer all around :) )

Another facet of our ‘non-professional’ principle is listed in the checklist below (Question 4), in that AA has NO subject matter experts. Make use of what others have to offer, freely take what you can and leave the rest for others to use, but understand we are ALL one drink away from a drunk (myself included), because there is no second class in AA.

Thanks


++++++++++++++++++++++

Practice These Principles…**

Tradition Eight: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

1. Is my own behavior accurately described by the Traditions? If not, what needs changing?

2. When I chafe about any particular Tradition, do I realize how it affects others?

3. Do I sometimes try to get some reward—even if not money—for my personal AA efforts?

4. Do I try to sound in AA like an expert on alcoholism? On recovery? On medicine? On sociology? On AA itself? On psychology? On spiritual matters? Or, heaven help me, even on humility?

5. Do I make an effort to understand what AA employees do? What workers in other alcoholism agencies do? Can I distinguish clearly among them?

6. In my own AA life, have I any experiences which illustrate the wisdom of this Tradition?

7. Have I paid enough attention to the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions? To the pamphlet AA Tradition—How It Developed?

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** These questions were originally published in the AA Grapevine in conjunction with a series on the Twelve Traditions that began in November 1969 and ran through September 1971. While they were originally intended primarily for individual use, many AA groups have since used them as a basis for wider discussion.

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http://www.aa.org/1212/
http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/smf-131_en.pdf
12 & 12 and Traditions Check List reprinted with Permission AAWS
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Re: Tradition 8 & Checklist

Postby PaigeB » Mon Sep 10, 2012 11:18 pm

“Freely have ye received, freely give...professionalize our Twelfth Step, the result has been the same: Our single purpose has been defeated. Alcoholics will not listen to a paid twelfth-stepper.” (12 x 12, pg 167)


3. Do I sometimes try to get some reward—even if not money—for my personal AA efforts?


For free and for fun! That's what I have been trying to pass on about my experience with service! BUT, and this is a big one... GSO needs full time employees and so does the Grapevine. These things have to keep going for the new comer and for the Groups. I will never forget the time that I called to talk about a problem we had in my Group. We were divided and I was the GSR that would guide the meeting to a Group Conscience. I talked to a fellow alcoholic there before I went to that business meeting. We talked about what other groups did and how the Traditions applied.

My heart was changed and my wider view of GSO and the gentleness of a drunk that worked 8 hours a day to make sure my group help itself together. September 24 my group will have it's 21 Anniversary. We need the special workers.
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Re: Tradition 8 & Checklist

Postby Tommy-S » Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:08 pm

Thanks, Paige

You reminded me of my travel to a northern state last summer. Stuck in a hotel as job complications extended the stay, I contacted AA in the area...And it was a good sized city, not Mayberry RFD stuff.

Their hotline was staffed by a professional answering service, like a doctor would have.

The person answering could not tell me how far away from the nearest meeting I was... just reading off the 'menu' they were given. (Having taken the Hotline in my home city, I do so with a map in hand, so as to direct the person to something near them, in case they are on foot or taking taxis as we get a lot of visitors to the areas. ). I asked to leave the hotel number to have my call returned, but they did not have a 'contact' list. Whoever was contracted to answer was either also unfamiliar with the area, or it just wasn't part of the service they were paid to do.

After that, I made another call to a listing for an AA club, but no one there picked up the phone. I left a message with the hotel number AND my personal e-mail, explaining my situation, but never had the call returned.

It was a lesson maybe in what happens when Groups don't support services (Tradition 7). And that when we DO pay professionals, make sure we get services that 'fit' AA needs... And if that means paying an AA for non-12 Step work like answering a phone with a contact list and knowledge of the area, I'm all for it.

There's nothing worse than to place a call for help, and no one's home.

Tommy
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Re: Tradition 8 & Checklist

Postby PaigeB » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:48 pm

I have been on the "help me" side of that call too. My district has a list of people who the answering service calls, like a doc on call, until they get someone to take the call.

I have also, as a part of my service work, made calls to AA in other areas and had no luck, or worse - the line rang disconnected.

I am glad that my district can afford to pay the answering service.
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Re: Tradition 8 & Checklist

Postby Tommy-S » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:07 am

Another AA history example of professionalism versus non-professional 12 Step work involved our Big Book:

“Shortly after the financial investigation episode (Note 1), Father Ed Dowling, our Jesuit friend from St. Louis, turned up in New York. Still puzzled, I (Bill) put the case to him.

He asked, “Do you think AA requires your full-time efforts?”
I replied, “Yes, I think it does, perhaps indefinitely.”
Then he inquired, “Could you become a paid therapist?”
I told him that this issue had been settled long since. Most empathically I could not, regardless of the consequences, nor could any other AA member. (Note 2)
“Well, Bill,” said Father Ed, “ f you were the only one concerned, you could certainly start wearing a hair shirt and take nothing. But what about Lois? Once upon a time you made a marriage contract to support her. Suppose you put her on the charity of friends so that you can do a service organization job for AA free. Would that be the kind of support your marriage contract called for? I should think the royalties would be the best bet?”

This meant Dr. Bob and I must certainly never accept money for Twelfth Step work but that we could be recompensed for special services...” (AA Comes of Age, pg 195)


As figureheads of our Society, both Bill & Dr. Bob were 'required' to be 'special' AA members, traveling and speaking with groups (AA or those organizations friendly to AA), helping find solutions to problems which became the basis for our Traditions, and to work out our World Service Structure that keeps us whole and functioning today.

Thanks!


Notes
(1) Bill & Dr. Bob faced accusations they were making money hand over fist on AA, and they successfully demonstrated this wasn't the case (AACoA, pg 193-194)
(2) refers to the job offer by Town's Hospital, described in Traditions 2, 12 x 12, pg 136 - 138
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