Opinion: Is Anonymity an Outdated Concept?
Is anonymity an outdated concept? The first thing I think of when I think of anonymity is the 11th tradition in Alcoholics Anonymous which states: “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.” These steps and traditions were written in the 30’s, so how do they apply today?
Many alcoholics and addicts believe that we should be proud of our new found way of life and our recovery, but you have to remember not everyone feels that way. In my opinion this tradition was written more to apply to AA as a whole as opposed to each person individually. Think about it, if someone famous goes on TV letting people know they are in AA and then they decide to drink and have outrageous behavior, this reflects AA in people’s eyes.
Our policy is based on attraction rather than promotion, which means we want the newcomer to be attracted to the program and we don’t want to scare them away by shouting AA from the rooftops. Back when the steps and traditions were created, being an alcoholic was frowned upon a lot more than it is now (especially for women). Now-a-days, it’s becoming more and more popular. You see sober clothing lines, famous people speaking out about their recovery and it being mentioned in movies and shows. It has definitely become more acceptable over the years, but does that change the fact that we need remain anonymous and maintain personal anonymity?
I know that I personally am horrible with keeping my own anonymity, but there are situations and places where I know to keep my recovery to myself. I can state that I’m an alcoholic to someone, but that doesn’t mean I have to go and talk about being in Alcoholics Anonymous. I can say I’m sober and leave that fact out of it. You also have to think of others when it comes to being anonymous, if you’re out in public and you see someone you know from meetings, think about it before you go up to them and just say hello! You can end up putting someone in a very uncomfortable position. We all are different and some people like to keep that part of their life private.
I also can see the other side of the coin as to being proud of being sober and wanting to share it with other people. There is always going to be the argument that it could end up helping another alcoholic or addict by just knowing that you are in recovery. It can urge people to ask for help at times, or get help from us for friends and family. And I know for me, when I was in active alcoholism and addiction the whole world could have known and I didn’t care one bit. So now that I am sober I am proud to say how I’ve changed and bettered my life. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-888-672-4435.