The Three Legacies: Al-Anon’s Guiding Principles
Al-Anon has three sets of guiding principles that are referred to as our Three Legacies. These Legacies were adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous. The Legacies include:
Recovery through the Twelve Steps, which encourage individual members to carry the Al-Anon message to others. The Twelve Steps of Al-Anon are a practical tool for change for Al-Anon members. They help us find answers to our questions and solutions to our problems, and to make peace with the past and live productively in the present. The Twelve Steps guide us to acknowledge our powerlessness over alcoholism, find a power that can help us change our lives, change our attitudes and actions to be more productive and more loving, and share these gifts with others. The Twelve Steps offer help and hope.
Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps, copyright 1996 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
Unity through the Twelve Traditions, which protect the Al-Anon groups from influences that might distract or disrupt them from their common purpose. The Twelve Traditions of Al-Anon are a set of guidelines for the Al-Anon program. The Twelve Traditions help us to maintain unity. They help to hold our program together so we can provide a consistent message of hope, un-influenced by outside interests, for Al-Anon members and newcomers. Since there are no rules in Al-Anon, our Twelve Traditions form a framework for us to carry out our group activities, resolve conflict, and solve problems. Many Al-Anon members find that principles of the Twelve Traditions also assist them in their personal lives and relationships.
Al-Anon’s Twelve Traditions, copyright 1996 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
Service through the Twelve Concepts of Service, which provide a guide for Al-Anon service. The Twelve Concepts of Service of Al-Anon are a guide for broad-scale service within the Al-Anon program. They provide guidelines for spreading Al-Anon’s message world-wide. The Twelve Concepts illustrate how Al-Anon members can apply the principles of the Al-Anon program to the working relationships in within Al-Anon’s service structure. They help us to make cooperative and practical decisions about issues that involve others. Many members have found the principles of the Twelve Concepts to also be a helpful tool to apply to their personal and work situations.
Al-Anon’s Twelve Concepts of Service, copyright 1996 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.
In addition, the General Warranties of Al-Anon provide guidelines for the proceedings of the World Service Conferences of Al-Anon, which is held annually to maintain communication between individual groups and the Al-Anon service structure.
Warranties of Al-Anon are reprinted with permission of ©Al-Anon Family Group
Structure of the Al-Anon/Alateen Fellowship
This is intended to provide a general overview of the structure within the Al-Anon organization. We suggest referring to the Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual or the World Service web site Member’s Area for detailed information. The following descriptions may vary in Al-Anon around the world. In general, Al-Anon is structured to provide a chain of communication and input from the membership, to each group, to the district level, to the area level and area assembly, to the World Services Conference, and back through the same chain to the membership.
The membership is the keystone of the Al-Anon fellowship.
The Al-Anon/Alateen Group
The basic unit of Al-Anon is the Al-Anon or Alateen group, which may consist of any two or more individuals coming together for mutual help. The group membership may elect officers, who are considered “trusted servants” and have responsibilities towards the operations of the group, but no authority over the group. Officers are usually rotated periodically, to provide everyone with an opportunity to serve the group. Our fourth Tradition states, “Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or Al-Anon or AA as a whole.” Structure within groups varies. Suggested officers and duties of group officers can be found in the Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual. Each group is encouraged to elect a group representative to attend and vote at district meetings. See our Meetings page for a list and description of the groups within District 5 of Michigan. Click here to see a list of the ID numbers of groups within District 5 that are registered with the Al-Anon World Service Office.
Beyond the Group Level
Districts are formed by and made
up of Al-Anon/Alateen groups located within a city or
state. Each district may have officers and/or coordinators. Districts hold
meetings periodically. Each group is
encouraged to provide a “group representative” to
attend and vote at district meetings. Each district elects a “district representative” to represents the district at
area assemblies and World Service Committee meetings. The district that includes most of
Al-Anon Information Services (Intergroups) are local service centers established by one or more districts or groups. An information service functions to maintain and facilitate communications and cooperation among member districts and groups, and assist districts and groups in outreach to others. Al-Anon Information Services hold periodic meetings attended by information service representatives, where matters affecting groups are discussed in light of the Twelve Traditions. The WSO developed guidelines for information services.
Areas are comprised of
groups and districts in a geographical area, usually an entire state or
province. The Upper and
The area assembly is a
business meeting where participating members share experiences and ideas, and
group representatives vote on behalf of their members. An area assembly meets
at least once every three years, and may meet more often. In
The Area World
Service Committee plans for the
general improvement of both the area assembly and the Al-Anon groups. Voting
members of the Area World Service Committee (AWSC) meeting are usually officers
of the Assembly, District Representatives, and service coordinators and
liaisons from any Information Services (i.e. Intergroups.)
These meetings are called and chaired by the Area Chairperson for the purpose
of informing and unifying all groups within the Area. At these meetings, the
Delegate gives a report, Area matters are considered and discussed, items of
interest for the Area newsletter may be suggested, Assembly agendas are
planned, the Area budget is prepared, and the need for new or alternative
suggestions to those listed in the Al-Anon Service Manual may be studied so
that these findings and questions can be presented at the Area Assembly. Questions that can not
be resolved at the District or Assembly level are compiled to be submitted to
the World Service Office.
There are two major lines of communication between the individual groups and Al-Anon as a whole:
1) The World Service Conference serves Al-Anon groups in the
2) The World Service Office (WSO) is the clearinghouse and headquarters of the Al-Anon Family Groups. The WSO acts as the service center for groups throughout the world, and is the link with other national general service offices, several of which have their own conferences. The WSO publishes all conference-approved literature. Work at the WSO is performed by paid staff, some of whom are Al-Anon members, and by volunteer Al-Anon members. The WSO Board of Trustees serves as the legal entity responsible for administering Al-Anon’s services and funds, and meets quarterly. The Executive Committee, which is a service arm of the Board of Trustees, is delegated by the Board of Trustees to make administrative decisions between Board meetings, and meets monthly. There are several committees, each of which consists of a Conference staff member, a volunteer Chairperson and other volunteers that meet regularly to perform services designated to their committee and to assist with problems that may arise. The relationship of the WSO to the groups is explained in “Al-Anon’s Twelve Concepts of Service.”
Regional Service Seminars (RSS) take the World Service Office (WSO) out of Virginia Beach and bring it to the regions in the United States and Canada. RSS’s provide an opportunity for interaction between Al-Anon members and the WSO staff and Al-Anon Board of Trustees. RSS locations are rotated so that once a RSS is held once every three years in each of the nine “regions” of the US and Canada. (The Michigan area is part of the “U.S. North Central” region.) RSS’s focus on Al-Anon service, and include panels discussions with the Board of Trustees, WSO staff and others; discussions and workshops on service topics; workshops on Traditions, Concepts and other topics; open discussions; and fun, food and fellowship among Al-Anon members, officers and staff. Individuals generally pay their own costs to attend; sometimes a district, group or area will decide by group conscience to finance all or part of the expenses for a service representative to attend. Please click here for a pamphlet describing RSS’s.
District 5 Al-Anon/Alateen – How does your district work?
District 5 of Al-Anon
includes the area in and around
District 5 meetings
District 5 usually holds meetings three times a year. Each group within the district is encouraged to elect a group representative to attend these meetings. Many groups also elect an alternate group representative. Each group may have one person vote on its behalf when a vote is taken on district issues or for district officers. Any member who wishes to attend district meetings is welcome to do so. The dates and location of district 5 meetings are posted on our Announcements page and Business page.
District 5 officers
District 5 officers are elected from among District 5 group representatives and members. Our District 5 officers include:
w District Representative, Alternate District Representative, Treasurer, Secretary, Group Records, Public Outreach, District Alateen Coordinator.
w For a description of District 5 officers’ service responsibilities, please click here.
Please see our business page to learn who our current District 5 officers are!
Al-Anon/Alateen Officers Beyond the Group Level – Our “trusted servants”
Service provides personal benefits to the individuals who perform it as well as to other Al-Anon members and to Al-Anon as a whole.
Al-Anon’s Tradition Two states, in part, “Our leaders are but trusted servants – they do not govern.” For a pictorial representation of the opportunities for and personal benefits of providing Al-Anon service beyond the group level, please see the Al-Anon publication, “Joy Of Service” (S-57.) For a pictorial representation of the Al-Anon service structure, please see the Al-Anon publication, “Links Of Service” (S-28.) Reprinted with permission of ©Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.
For comprehensive information about the responsibilities of various officers, we suggest referring to the Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual.
Tradition Two excerpt is reprinted with permission
of ©Al-Anon Family Group
It is required that the district representative and the alternate district representative must be current or past group representatives (elected by their Al-Anon or Alateen group to represent the group at the district level.) Other district officers may be elected from the general Al-Anon/Alateen membership.
Al-Anon and Alateen members who are also members of A.A. may hold office within their own Al-Anon or Alateen group, but may not serve as Al-Anon group representatives or hold Al-Anon office beyond the group level, per decision of the Al-Anon World Service Conference. This was decided in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest if members of A.A. also become members of the World Service Conference.
We suggest referring to the Al-Anon/Alateen Service Manual for detailed information about the responsibilities of various officers at the group level, district level, and beyond the district level. The responsibilities of the group and district representatives, as suggested by the Al-Anon/Alateen Service manual, follow. Groups may also elect an alternate group representative and districts may elect an alternate district representative to assist with these responsibilities.
The group representative is elected for a three year term. The group representative attends maintains communication between his or her group and the district, and the group and the Area World Service Committee. The group representative votes on behalf of the group. Responsibilities include:
w Attends District meetings
w Attends Area Assembly meetings
w Maintains an up to date current mailing address for his/her group with the World Service Office
w Represents the group’s views to the district representative and at district meetings, and keeps the group informed of district news
w Assists with local public outreach
w Reminds the group of the seventh Tradition and encourages group-level support of the Worlds Service Office
w Encourages use of Conference-Approved Literature at meetings
w Encourages subscriptions to the Forum (Al-Anon’s monthly magazine)
The district representative must be elected from among incoming, outgoing, or active past group representatives from the district. The district representative maintains communication between the district and the Area Assembly. Responsibilities include:
w Calls and chairs district meetings, at regular intervals
w Helps to disseminate Conference information and reports
w Keeps in touch with the group representatives in the district and represents their views to the Area World Service Committee or the Delegate.
w Helps groups in the district (especially new groups) receive necessary information and help
w Helps groups in the district understand and apply the Traditions
w Prepares a current mailing list of the district’s group representatives in the district for the Area World Service Committee
w Encourages groups in the district to return the group data sheets that are sent out by the World Service Office each year
w Checks with the group representatives to be sure the group mailing address is current
w Checks that the groups are receiving and sharing mail from the World Service Office
w Attends World Service Committee meetings and reports on activities within his/her district
w Notifies the Area World Service Committee and the World Service Office of groups that have disbanded