Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tradition 8 in Al-Anon

Tradition 8 goes hand in hand with Step 12 in my thoughts. The 8th Tradition insures that anytime a newcomer reaches out for help, he will receive it, free of charge. Members freely share their own experience, strength, and hope with the newcomer and by doing so, help themselves by reinforcing their own recovery in the process.

The word "nonprofessional" means that I interact in a way that neither affirms nor implies that I am something other than a person in recovery just like others who come to Al-Anon. It means that if I need professional help then I should go where such help is available, outside Al-Anon. This seems clear, yet I have had sponsees who seem to want to get my opinions on their academic courses, their relationships, and other topics that aren't about the program.

I've also heard in meetings, advice given to people not to take medication for depression. This is not only contrary to this tradition but is dangerous advice. It isn't a good idea to play doctor or therapist where medications or relationships are concerned.

I know that I have leaned hard on my sponsor more than once to give advice on relationships. But I have a wise sponsor who never gave me advice except to keep the focus on myself. And I probably have been a step "pusher" for newcomers. In my zeal to encourage newcomers to get involved with the Steps, I sometimes talk about them as if they were the be-all and end-all. Working the steps is a road to recovery but that happens in God's time, not mine.

I also need to realize that I am not an expert on the workings of Al-Anon but simply do service work as needed. We have no paid staff but volunteers in this district. Just for today, it is a good idea for me to stick close to the message of Al-Anon as I encounter it in my home group and at others.

The 8th Tradition is one that reminds me that what I am to do in meetings is talk about my experience, not my opinion; not give advice, but try to give hope. If I do make suggestions, they should be spiritual in nature rather than advice about actions to take. I am also reminded that non-professional means leaving outside professions, philosophies, religions, etc outside. Thankfully, I don't hear much "therapy" in meetings. I want to remember that Al-Anon has a spiritual approach and that is how the message is carried.


  1. Good message. My group does not have too many "therapists". They are very mellow.

  2. Yeah, well, I AM a 'professional'...violin player, that is. Also thought that I was a 'professional' drinker, because I could drink more, and hold it better than anyone I knew--it says here -grin-

    Turns out I am just 'me', and that is NOT the 'same ole me', it is a 'me' which continues to change, oh! so slowly!
    HURRY UP! See there, THAT change went all to H***
    Steve E.

  3. As a therapist myself, we are suppose to listen more than speak and certainly must never lecture about anything. People have the answers within themselves, sometimes they just need to be still enough to hear them.

  4. Thank you, Syd, for this thoughtful and succinct description. Your perspective is most constructive.

  5. Thanks Syd. I too appreciate the lack of "professional" stuff in Al-Anon meetings. I think I would be worrying too much about people judging me by whatever professional standards they used to be able to talk in a meeting. At least when I first started in Al-Anon. Glad I found your blog.

  6. I love how you said to try to give hope not advice. It's easy to forget that when we have been in the program a few years. I know that the people who were there at my first few meetings as a brand new al-anon did just that, gave me hope.


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