Tradition Three

Tradition Three

The only requirement for A.A membership is a desire to stop drinking


Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism.  Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover.  Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity.  Any two of three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provide that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.  (long form)

When I first walked into the rooms of AA, utterly beaten by my alcoholism, not an ounce of defiance left in me, the last thing I was interested in was some ëso called traditionsí ñ I didnít say all my arrogance had left me!  The closest I had come to any kind of tradition prior to AA was to regularly get wasted and screw up everything good in my life, time after time after time.

In those early days I recall skimming over the scrolls and thinking it looks like a whole load of ëmumbo jumboí.  The only bits that told me i might be in the right place, was at the top of the steps in step one which stated ëwe came to believe we were powerless over alcoholí -never a truer word saidí-and on the other scroll under tradition three ëThe only requirement for A.A membership is a desire to stop drinkingí.  At that point I wasnít sure if I wanted to call myself a member but I certainly had a desire to stop drinking.

As time has passed Iíve come to understand this tradition was in fact my life line-as it will be for many more suffering alcoholic to come.  No one was telling me I had to be an alcoholic, or subscribe to any religion, I didnít have to pay any money and no one cared what I had done, where I had been or who I had hurt ñ I had just as much right to be there are anyone else who had a desire to stop drinking.  

From what I have read, back in the early days of AA way before even my parents were born, there used to be many membership rules, which led to groups being fragile and all members living in constant fear and anxiety of relapsing.   All I can say is thank god the founders and early pioneers of the AA fellowship were around to make and iron out the mistakes, leaving a strong set of traditions which continue to protect AA groups, members  and ensure its longevity, without which, I would not be here now enjoying every day of sobriety.

That is not to say this desire alone was enough to recover.  Of course, to be freed from my miserable existence and horrendous obsession with alcohol, I needed a sponsor and to be taken through the twelve steps as laid out in the basic text of alcoholics Alcoholics Anonymous, which I have done whole heartedly.  At the beginning, when the madness was still on me, my life line, my way out of that misery was in that ëmumbo jumboí under number 3 of the traditions.

So, when you glance up at the traditions and wonder what itís all about, remember  tradition three is what makes us alcoholics both exclusive and all inclusive ñ everyone one has that life line to a solution, a way out ñ all you need is a desire to stop drinking to make that beginning.