In tradition 8 of a 12-step program it says: “Working in the twelfth step should always not be professional, but our service centers may employ special people.” This tradition allows contributions to be used for support services, while the groups only provide non-professional, mutual support.
Tradition 8 ensures that every time a newcomer asks for help, it gets it free. Members freely share their own experiences, strengths, and hopes with the newcomer, helping themselves by reinforcing their own recovery in the process.
Step 12 states, “After experiencing a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we have tried to convey this message to others and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.” In 12-step groups there is a saying, “To keep it, you must give it away”, the key word being “giving”.
Not professional mutual assistance
Often times, newcomers to the program will go to their first meeting expecting to find trained professionals who are there to help them. What they find instead is a community of equals who have gathered for mutual support. There are no doctors, therapists or counselors, just other members who have or have had the same problem in their life.
That is not to say that some of these members are not doctors and professionals, but they leave these outside affiliations at the door. This is how the 12-step programs work, being given away to keep.
Tradition 7 says that 12-step groups are self-supporting through their own contributions. These contributions are used to employ specialized labor and maintain the district, area and global structure.
That tradition is reflected in the history of AA when John D. Rockefeller Jr. declined a large donation as it would “spoil the thing” and they would have to support themselves to be successful.
Many people do not trust the authority. This applies to those who want to get sober. Going to a professional counselor is different from going to a group of others who are in recovery. Twelve-tier groups are different from professional recovery services and provide the assistance members find in sharing and hearing each other’s stories. There is no authority that the member can rebel against.
Hiring of specialist workers
Twelve-tier organizations at the national, state, and regional levels may have service centers that serve the grants as a whole, printing and distributing literature, creating schedules, maintaining answering machines, and other duties.
These central offices and service centers often require more work than volunteer service personnel can do. As a result, some hire full-time and part-time workers to do the work necessary to keep them running smoothly. Tradition 8 therefore allows the “specialist workers” to be hired and paid to do the work that volunteers cannot do.
Dedicated staff can be deployed to keep the AA message alive through printing, communication, and other technologies around the world. This pays off not for the work on Step 12, but for the services required to support them with literature and outreach. Members understand the difference between paying for support services and paying for professional advisors.