The 11th Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous

“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.”

I am always amazed to hear an AAer state that they are an organization based “on attraction, and not promotion”. This is bullshit on many levels.

Courts throughout the United States compel people to attend AA meetings, partly because of a general ignorance as to the ineffectiveness of the program, and partly because in many places, there is simply no treatment alternative. Additionally, treatment centres are the life blood of AA, as they model their treatment on the 12-Step approach, and they use AA as their aftercare program. Finally, the largest purchaser of AA official literature; and the largest publisher of AA based, 12-Step literature is Hazelden.

From The Orange Papers:

First, it’s just a quiet, confidential program of attraction, then it’s a tough-love program of steel-fisted coercion and promotion.
• They begin every meeting by reading aloud Tradition Eleven, which says:

“Our public relations policy is based on attraction, rather than promotion….”

• But later, they tell you to do everything you can to use the health and criminal justice systems to force people to join the 12-Step religion. The Little Red Book of Hazelden — a clone of The Little Red Book of Chairman Mao — specifically teaches recruiters to indoctrinate judges, doctors, and other officials as part of the proselytizing work. It says that faithful A.A. members can carry the message by:

“By telling the A.A. story to clergy members, doctors, judges, educators, employers, or police officials if we know them well enough to further the A.A. cause, or to help out a fellow member.”
The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 128.

Then that book even goes on to tell recruiters to teach the judges, police, doctors, and other officials just what kind of people A.A. wants coerced into attending its meetings:
“By educating doctors, the clergy, judges, police officials, and industrial personnel regarding the type of people A.A. can help, we will avoid flooding our ranks with an unwieldy preponderance of non-alcoholics.”
The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 137.

So much for the excuses that A.A. can’t help it if the judges, parole officers, and counselors force people to go to A.A. meetings. And Hazelden is merely echoing Bill Wilson’s instructions. In a 1939 letter from Bill to Earl T., a founding member of the Chicago A.A. group, Bill wrote:

“By educating doctors, hospitals, ministers along this line, you will surely pick up some strong prospects after a bit.
PASS IT ON, The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., pages 225-226.

Let’s examine this cycle a little further. This is a win/win/win situation for AAWS, Hazelden and local AA groups. Hazelden publishes the approved AA literature, Hazelden supplements the literature with their own publishing arm, and the local groups are fed an endless stream of recently graduated rehab patients.

The patient/AAer is the only party who is victimized. How? The findings of Project MATCH concluded that in-patient rehab is no more effective than either just going to AA, or a person quitting on their own. This insures that 95% percent of rehab graduates will fail, and a good percentage of them will go back into treatment – which is not cheap. Alcoholics who fall off of the wagon are led to believe (along with their families) that they failed the only program that can help them. Multiple rehab stints can literally put a family into financial ruin.

  • Pingback: Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. «()

  • Vito S

    LOL….. Rehabs, Jails, and especially Hazelden are not AA. Please do the research and know what you are talking about!  Thanks

    • anonymous

      good, i happened to come across this posting while reading up on what the old timers had to say about 11th trad. I am in a pre group conscience mode where we( the group)are being challenged by some newcomers, as to what is an AA related announcement

  • tintop

    Vito, thank you.  I give that advice the consideration that deserves.  Have a nice day.

  • Mona Lisa

    That's funny.  I got my first AA Big Book in rehab.  My counselor was in AA as was every other counselor there.  The steps were on the wall and they held AA meetings in the rehab all the time.  If there's a difference, I sure as hell couldn't figure out what it was.

  • Vito gets a perfect 10 score for packing an assload of illogic, passive-aggression, condescension and willful ignorance (plus an LOL!) into 20 words. Nice work!

  • patti

    I have to ask what is the problem with AA. AA is a fellowship of men and women who have found a solution to a seemingly hopeless condition. Thru working the steps of alcoholics anonymous, I have recovered a measure of sanity and am attempting to live with a new plan of action.

    I could give a hoot about the extraneous crap surrounding AA. Court ordered AA is against the traditions.

    I wish you well in however you stay sober. AA works for a certain class of real alcoholics.

    If it does not work for you…peace. You really are spending way to much energy on debunking AA.

  • "Court ordered AA is against the traditions."

    So, you want to know what's the problem with AA? That's great, because, conveniently, you happen to be on a blog with 2 years worth of posts answering your question! "Essential Reading" is a good place to start.

    Or did you want someone to save you the trouble? Or maybe it wasn't an honest question?

    Also, what a pathological sense of entitlement you're displaying by presuming to tell other people what they're spending too much time at. Did you get that "humility" from spending way too much time in AA?

    There is no such thing as a "real alcoholic."

  • Gunthar2000

    “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

    ~Henry David Thoreau

  • true believer


    love the sad clown.

  • Gunthar2000

    Thanks true believer. 🙂

  • ez

    Emmett Kelly is the guy behind the clown make up.

  • anonymous

    to quote non AA approved literature to make a point is ludicrous. If you are going to make a point use ou r literature not a book dealers. also you have taken one line- “by educating doctors……….” out of context. Much like a Jehovah’s witness you quote what suits you but not what was said before and after. Project Match like many research facilities cannot quote percentages as AA does not keep any records on our population. You would have to keep track of AA ers from sobriety date to death

  • thinkb4youspeak

    I really don’t understand the original post at all. It claims to debunk AA’s policy on attraction rather than promotion. Then three points are made: one about the government’s policy, one about treatment centre policy, and one about Hazelden policy. I’m still waiting for any comment whatsoever that actually refers to the policy of Alcoholics Anonymous.

    • Travis73

      Hey Dude,

      There’s AA comercials too. no joke, television ads: Oh I’m sorry, “Public Service Anouncments”

      and this is “attraction”, not “promotion”, how?

  • Kenneth

    Is it correct to use my last name in AA meetings?

  • Joseph M Narusiewicz

    Thank God for old AA and I’m going on 27 years of sobriety….this article is full of crap…somebody better the plunger!