The 3 legacies of AA form an important part of the 12-Step program. Learn about the 3 AA legacies and how they apply in recovery from alcohol addiction.
Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as AA, is an organization famous for its 12-step program for alcohol addiction recovery. The program also has specific traditions and concepts that, when combined with the recovery steps, make up the 3 legacies of AA. All AA members need to observe and maintain these legacies. However, what are they, and why are they important?
What Are the 3 Legacies of AA?
AA is a fellowship of people interested in abstaining from alcohol. Members don’t have to share anything beyond their desire to quit alcohol.
Like other human groups, having a shared goal doesn’t eliminate conflicts within AA groups. AA’s 3 legacies developed from a need to maintain members’ focus on the overall mission of sobriety. The legacies guide and unite everyone to work toward this common purpose despite their differences.
The 3 legacies of AA are Recovery, Unity and Service. According to the founder of AA — Bill Wilson — the three legacies “represent impossibilities…that…became possible.” Each legacy comprises 12 concepts that help members stick to AA’s mission.
What Does Each Legacy Mean?
This legacy encompasses the famous 12 steps that AA members use to work toward sobriety. Recovery provides spiritual principles that help people see alcohol for what it is and reduce its power over their lives.
Unity establishes a tradition of mutual love and support among AA members. It’s only through group unity that every member can achieve long-term sobriety from alcohol.
Service helps AA members spread the message of sobriety to alcoholics from all walks of life. It gives individual members a sense of purpose and helps grow the fellowship.
Through Service, AA managed to spread from its origin in the United States to become a worldwide movement with over 120,000 AA groups and close to 2 million members.
How Are the Legacies Used?
Recovery forms the basic foundation of the whole program. Members pursue the Recovery legacy by following the 12-step self-improvement program outlined in AA’s Big Book.
The 12 steps of Recovery are:
- Admitting a lack of power over alcohol
- Acknowledging the need for a higher power to overcome alcohol addiction
- Handing over yourself to God or a higher power
- Conducting a personal moral inventory
- Admitting personal defects
- Allowing a higher power to remove the defects
- Asking the higher power to remove personal shortcomings
- Listing the people one has harmed
- Making amends with everyone
- Incorporating conducting a moral inventory and making amends into daily life
- Prayer and meditation to a higher power
- Obtaining a spiritual awakening and spreading the knowledge of these steps to other alcoholics
AA members continually practice these 12 steps to prevent relapsing and maintain physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Unity also contains 12 traditions that help maintain group cohesion. AA’s traditions consist of the belief that:
- Common welfare spearheads personal recovery
- Every AA group is united and governed by a loving higher power’s authority
- Each member should desire to stop drinking alcohol
- AA groups are autonomous
- All AA groups should spread the Recovery message to other alcoholics
- AA groups are non-political
- Every AA group is self-supporting
- AA is nonprofessional
- AA doesn’t have an organizational hierarchy
- AA is non-promotional
- AA is founded on anonymity
These traditions help maintain AA as a distinct fellowship from religion, politics and business. It helps protects the group from conflicts of interest and undue influence from other entities. AA traditions also provide a guide for resolving group conflicts so members can stick to obtaining sobriety.
Service features 12 concepts that help AA members organize and reach out to the millions of people who need the organization’s help.
The 12 concepts are:
- Responsibility and authority for world service reside in AAs’ collective conscience: AA members take the onus of ensuring all AA groups have the publications and other media for passing the AA message.
- The General Service Conference (GSC) is the effective conscience of AA: GSC administers the AA world service, ensuring that the work continues regardless of any barriers.
- The GSC and any structures it creates to conduct world service have a right of decision: These structures can create projects and delegate tasks to members in pursuit of world service.
- The right of participation at all structural levels: All members in AA structures, including those playing minor roles, can participate in decision-making.
- The right of appeal: Every fellowship member can appeal the trustees’ decisions, confident that their opinions will be heard and considered.
- There should be a General Service Board (GSB): This structure acts as GSC trustees who undertake active responsibility in applying AA world service initiatives.
- The GSB has a Charter and Bylaws: These documents are legal instruments that legitimize the trustees’ world service actions.
- Trustees create overall policy and administer finances: Trustees develop policies for AA world services and allocate finances needed to spread the AA message.
- Good service leadership is crucial to AA: Trustees dispense world service for a fixed term and other members replace them to ensure the fellowship benefits from the best leadership services.
- Service responsibility calls for equal service authority: Trustees and other people responsible for dispensing world service need to have the authority required to do their work effectively.
- Only the best people can administer AA world service: The trustees should determine the different positions necessary for world service and outline appropriate qualifications for everyone involved.
- The GSC is not a moneymaking or power-accumulating institution: All funds the GSC collects should fulfill a world service function. Trustees should always have equal power and make decisions democratically to ensure funds aren’t misappropriated.
Apply the 3 Legacies of AA to Your Recovery
The 3 legacies of AA form a foundation for holistic recovery from alcohol and drug abuse and outline a vital relationship crucial to well-being and sobriety. You can find the 12-step program at FHE Health. We have used it with other addiction treatment programs to help dozens of clients find their way to sobriety. Call us today at (844) 299-0618 to speak to an expert who will help you determine if the AA program offers you the best chance for addiction recovery.