S-Anon is not an organization; it has no managers or bosses. It is a fellowship of equals, held together in close union by something called “obedience to the unenforceable.” This means that every group conducts S-Anon’s work according to the spiritual principles stated in our Traditions, which they accept and follow of their own free will, without being directed or compelled by anyone.
“But,” someone may say, “The Fourth Tradition says each group should be autonomous. Doesn’t that mean we can run our meetings any way we want to, use any kind of literature, and generally run things to suit ourselves?” The answer is that the autonomy granted by the Fourth Tradition is limited to what is good for the fellowship as a whole. If a group departs from the ideas and procedures that create the greatest good for the greatest number of S-Anon members, it takes on its shoulders the responsibility for damaging the fellowship to which all of us look for help. …The health and unity of S-Anon depends on the cooperation of all groups.
(Reprinted and adapted from One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, p. 305, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA, 1973)
The S-Anon/S-Ateen Service Manual is the result of a growing body of experience among S-Anon and S-Ateen groups. The term S-Anon includes S-Ateen; therefore this manual applies to all registered groups, including S-Ateen. The Manual is also meant to serve as a resource, grounded in S-Anon’s Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts of Service. Members have shown their interest in these Traditions-related issues by directing a large number of questions to the S-Anon International Family Groups World Service Office and to the members of the S-Anon Board of Trustees.
While this Manual is not meant to be a complete explanation of S-Anon Traditions and Concepts, we hope that it will be helpful to be aware of some of the experiences of other groups—what has worked well and what has not worked very well. In addition, we hope it will be useful to summarize in one document the service structure of S-Anon in the United States and Canada and how the group conscience of S-Anon as a whole functions at the local, regional, national, and international levels.
The S-Anon/S-Ateen Service Manual replaces in its entirety and supersedes the S-Anon Group Handbook published in 1993. The Manual incorporates all the material previously published in the Group Handbook that is still relevant to the S-Anon service structure as it exists today, and it includes a wealth of information not previously published. Since this is the case, we ask you to discard your Group Handbook and use this Service Manual as your reference guide for service-related questions. We intend to update this Manual regularly to reflect changes that may occur as a result of the experiences of our members and groups, or actions taken by the World Service Conference or Board of Trustees.
Please note that S-Anon groups do exist in countries outside of the U.S. and Canada, and we fully cooperate with those groups. In some cases, they have translated our literature and they are licensed to print and distribute that material. At the present time, however, it is not feasible to include groups outside of North America in our service structure. Parts 2 and 3 refer only to the service structure currently existing in North America.
This Manual explains how local S-Anon and S-Ateen groups work; describes our traditional and legal service structure; tells how fellowshipwide decision making occurs (including sections on the S-Anon World Service Conference and S-Anon Conference Approved Literature); and contains formats for S-Anon and S-Ateen meetings, including all the Conference Approved readings.
If your group has a different understanding of how the Traditions and Concepts should be applied in any area included in this Manual, ideas may be discussed with your Regional Trustee or Area Delegate. You might then decide to submit a motion for a structural or procedural change to the annual World Service Conference. If you have suggestions, additions, edits, or other general comments, please send them to the World Service Office. The WSO will forward your suggestions to the appropriate Trustee for consideration by the subcommittee of the Board of Trustees that will work on the next revision of the Manual.
In publishing this document, the Board of Trustees sincerely hopes that the S-Anon / S-Ateen Service Manual will act as catalyst for discussion and decision making in the groups, and that it will become an influence for unity in the S-Anon fellowship.