12-Step programs have been deemed anonymous since 1935. Have you ever wondered why anonymity is such an essential aspect of recovery? People tend to be more open about their recovery, including telling people that they are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or by sharing about it on social media. These actions go against anonymity in every way if you break it down, which leads you to question, what are the reasons to remain anonymous?
You Are Not a Spokesperson
Anonymity is important because there are no leaders, ambassadors, or spokespeople in 12-Step programs. If you go out and shout to the world that you are in AA or NA and then keep relapsing, you could give the entire membership a bad rap. Instead of being a place to send a loved one when they are suffering from addiction, a person who has seen your results thus far may not consider a 12-Step program. For example, celebrities have shouted out publicly that they are attending specific recovery meetings and then relapsed hardcore after.
Rather than have the understanding that 12-Step programs have saved the lives of many people over many decades, the public has associated negative results for recovery because the celebrity was not anonymous. On the other hand, when posting on a blog, vlog, social media, or even text, you should assume that you are publishing on a public level. When you break your anonymity publicly, you may also be inadvertently exposing others for being in recovery.
You Need to Consider the Stigma
In the same sense of not being a spokesperson, there is already a stigma surrounding addiction that gives the impression that mainly homeless or low-income people are affected. The truth is that no one is spared when it comes to addiction. The stigma surrounding addiction could keep someone from coming in, and anonymity could be misused to keep someone out.
Everyone deserves to have anonymity as the basis of their recovery as a form of protection. You can certainly help change the stigma of recovery without ever stating that you are in a 12-Step program. In fact, you can say you are sober without ever letting someone know that you are a member of AA or NA. You can reveal that you are in recovery and leave it at that.
You Should Think About Others
Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction does not choose a certain gender, age, race, or socio-economic standing to effect. Someone that comes into a 12-Step program may want to be protected by anonymity to keep from getting judged by others or for the sake of their job. Teachers, police officers, firefighters, pastors, or any other professions may feel like they will recover with ease if they believe what happens in a 12-Step program stays there.
Recovery is full of good people who have had to suffer from the phenomenon of craving and need help to stop. By breaking someone’s anonymity, you could be putting them in a position to relapse or possibly die.
You Should Follow Tradition
One of the main reasons that AA and NA have worked well for so many years is that they have some guidelines that help keep everyone in line and on the same page called The 12 Traditions. These Traditions are intended to keep the internal and external negativity from destroying each group. Tradition twelve states, “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
At the personal level, anonymity protects all members from identification as alcoholics or addicts as a safeguard, which is of grave importance, especially to newcomers. Shame and guilt override anything else they have going and may need the stability of anonymity to keep them coming back.
You Are Protecting Your Job
Opening up at your job about your recovery may leave you feeling ostracized and feeling insecure. Yes, you may be proud of the strides you have made in your recovery, but you are not obligated to tell anyone unless it may affect your job if you do not tell the truth. You should disclose your criminal past if they ask you about it. Other than that, you do not have to offer any personal information that is not pertinent to gaining employment.
Unless you are required to go to AA or NA as a way to keep your job due to the consequences of drinking and using on the clock, you should not have to break your anonymity to co-workers unless you feel like you can be of service to them. Providing something to hold over your head and feel judged is not a good idea because your productivity may suffer.
Anonymity is meant for confidence with a promise to ensure that you are doing your part to guard against public ridicule and a barrier against the stigma of addiction. On the flip side of anonymity is what you bring into your recovery. All that is pertinent to your recovery is your name and the nature of your addiction.
Everything else is not as important as focusing on your malady and gaining insight into what the solution is. The specifics of your personal life, where you live, your last name, and your family’s status are not as important as the discovery of your reason for being there and what you can do to change your outlook on life.
Your association with AA or NA is what anonymity entails. If you feel so inclined to share that you are sober with the world as a means to help someone else achieve their sobriety, do it! You should not be ashamed of the progress you are making in your recovery as long as you do not mention being a member of your 12-Step program. Carrying the message of hope is inspirational and could make a difference in saving someone’s life.
If you or someone you know is suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, The Detox Center of Colorado can show them how to recover. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, The Detox Center of Colorado fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. With the power of recovery, clients are restored to full health and experience life-changing healing. Call us today to start your journey at (303) 536-5463