Every group of human beings, from the earliest days of agriculture, and probably even before that, has struggled with problems arising from the abuse or wrong use of alcohol and other drugs. Every tradition of spirituality and wisdom has recognized that addiction is destructive of a person's humanity and disruptive to the social fabric that holds us together. And every tradition has developed ways of understanding and modifying behavior that can help addicted individuals discover and follow the path to recovery.
Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in the Midwest United States in the mid 1930's and spreading around the world from that foundation, has helped hundreds of thousands of people to successful recovery. The wisdom embodied in the Twelve Steps of AA and expressed in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" has much in common with the wisdom teachings of other cultures and societies. AA's insistence on the importance of honesty, searching self-examination, acceptance and humility, the making of amends, daily effort, and service to others, for example, find echos in Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Paganism, and other religious paths, as well as traditions of rationalism and secular humanism.
Because the basic texts of AA were developed within a particular cultural context, however, and borrow much of their language and imagery from that context, it is sometimes difficult for people to discover the universality of AA's message. In forming our group, we aim to help everyone to discover the hope that the fellowship offers to alcoholics and to participate in an effective program of recovery.
While the message of AA's 12 Steps finds echos in many different wisdom traditions, the 12 Traditions of the organization are more radical, distinguishing Alcoholics Anonymous from most other institutions. In fact, there is no operation I know of that reaches as far as AA does, or affects as many people, yet still operates on a very modest budget, without any central governance, and with the explicit rejection of certain principles that pervade the rest of our society - marketing, professionalism, and centralized organization in particular. It is with the authority of the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous that we form our group, "Happy, Joyous, and Free-thinking", and invite anyone who desires to stop drinking to attend our meetings.