At my home group's monthly Tradition meeting last night, I realized I'm probably more confused about the 8th Tradition than any other. Fortunately, I work in a field completely unrelated to recovery from alcoholism, so it's not anything like an immediate issue for me. I never have been offered—nor would I accept—any compensation for my efforts in doing any kind of 12th Step work (I do accept reimbursement for expenses incurred in doing some 12th step work, mostly in General Service).
But when I consider the sum of what I know about A.A.'s non-professionalism, I remain somewhat confused. Consider:
- I'm very glad Bill W. was convinced not to accept a job working as a lay therapist at Towns Hospital in December 1936 (bottom of the page); otherwise, I'm convinced there would be no A.A. as we know it today.
- I can't believe it's not of great benefit to have recovering members of A.A. to work at detox and treatment facilities; it helps those counselors, their clients, the institutions, and A.A. as a whole, if only by reducing the amount of misinformation newly released clients have about A.A. itself.
- I know a number of recovering alcoholics with long-term sobriety who work in the treatment field and who agonize over what they fear might be accepting money for 12th Step work.
- Many people I respect view this Tradition as saying only that A.A. itself does not pay for 12th Step work. See this article (subscription required) from the August 2004 issue of the A.A. Grapevine for example.
- A.A. paid Bill W. royalties for his writings and, as I recall, continues to pay his heirs to this day (it won't last much longer).
- Bill W., in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, cited the example of his club hiring an alcoholic to be the paid janitor and cook.
- All recovering alcoholics must practice the 12th Step without recompense, carrying the message of recovery to still-suffering alcoholics, in order to stay sober.