Why The Anonymity & Recovery Debate Sucks

11 Aug


Are You In Or Are You Out?

Gotta love the anonymity debate. For years, many addicts and recovering addicts relied heavily on the anonymous nature of traditional 12-step programs. With the increase of technology empowering those addicted and in recovery to have a “voice”, the curtain of anonymity is being dropped. The issue being raised questions if anonymity is still safe due to the increase in recovering addicts coming out of the addiction closet. Fear is also rising regarding the protection of the anonymity of those that choose to remain anonymous. In my opinion, I’ really fucking tired of hearing about this debate.


While the controversy over remaining anonymous runs rampant, I figured I would add a few points to hopefully clarify the situation. Simply put, I don’t see a problem. I highly doubt that individuals who opt to be public about their recovery or struggles with addiction are going to start a campaign to “out” the entire community. Also, I don’t think that by openly declaring your addiction status threatens the anonymity of those that opt to no be as open. Individuals that wish to remain anonymous can do so and those that opt to declare their addiction or recovery to the world at large should be free to do so as well. I fall (obviously) into the category of people who decided to shed their anonymity. Why did I do this?

I made the personal choice to become public about my struggles with alcohol and drugs and subsequent day-to-day success of remaining sober and thriving in recovery. I did so because I am lucky enough to deal with the stigma on my terms. I am not in a position to lose employment and I am willing to deal with personal backlash because of my public admission of addiction. I am extremely lucky that I have not had to bear a stigma cross for this blog, my activity on twitter or recovery status updates on Facebook.

Make A Choice

If you want to come out of the addiction closet then do it if you want to remain protected by anonymity then do that. But for the love of God don’t just sit on the fence. I take issue with individuals who wish to use addiction and recovery only when it suits them and then run and hide behind the curtain of assumed anonymity when they encounter people, places and things that don’t give them a gold star for being sober or give them an award for living past their addiction hell. Therefore, one must put on their adult panties and make a decision that they can live with. Just keep your side of the street clean.

In the end, it comes down to choice, that nasty responsibility of free will. Simply make your decision based on your comfort level. I don’t see people walking around with signs demanding that you out yourself as an addict or an addict in recovery. Nor do I see signs being waved that all addicts and recovering addicts must remain anonymous in order to keep the collective whole safe. The stigma of addiction will not end until society becomes comfortable with the word “addict”.

Hope Remains

Addiction is a very lonely disease. For me, being ‘out’ has lifted the shame that is associated with being a drunk in recovery. I made bad choices. I hurt a lot of people and now… now I make living amends and I take each 24 that I am given in stride.

Whichever choice you make, embrace it, be responsible for it and take ownership. You are not being forced to choose to be public or private. Be true to yourself and the decision to be anonymous or out of the addiction closet will be the right one… for you.


3 Responses to “Why The Anonymity & Recovery Debate Sucks”

  1. StarkRavingSober May 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    I respect your decision to be open about your recovery. I’m not sure that having people like Glenn Beck telling the world they’re in AA is doing much to dispel the stigma of addiction, however. It seems to me there’s a bit of a difference between celebrities and bloggers, or other ‘everyday Jo’s,’ in that sense. You or I might have an opportunity to ‘be the only Big Book some people ever see’ in our own small circles, whereas Beck might seriously turn thousands of people off of AA by his public association with it.

    • Alexis Chapman May 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

      While the opinion of Glenn Beck’s recovery not being on par with standard interpretations of traditional twelve-step work, I cannot say that the reaction to his participation in AA has been all negative. Perhaps he has supporters that sought treatment because of his admission? It’s really not for me to say. I agree that we may be the only big book some see but I could just as easily offend addicts due to my behavior. If an addicted individual seeks an alternative program of recovery because they thought I represented AA, they are still seeking treatment. If an individual opts to not seek help, due to the thought that I represented all of AA, that would be sad. But I cannot own their decision to participate in traditional 12-Step methods. My hope, when I discuss addiction with those still suffering is that if asked, I present a clear account of what has worked for me. Their path towards recovery is not the same as mine, and what keeps me sober may not work for them. I don’t subscribe to any one way is the only way to achieve a successful recovery. I have my personal account and opinions but I don’t disregard other opinions. While I may disagree with some bloggers and every day peeps on their interpretation of AA, it doesn’t deter me from working a program of recovery. In truth, had I based my opinion of AA solely on my first encounter, I may not have gone back. The actions and behaviors of those in the rooms can have an equally damaging influence. While celebrities spouting off about their participation in AA may tarnish the supposed appearance of the fellowship, I would hope that an individual would base their desire to recover off of more than a celebrities rantings.

  2. Dena Donaldson February 9, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    I just created a blog, ( http://portraitsofaddiction.com ) aimed at eliminating the stigma through shared stories of hope, strength, and courage. Similar to Faces & Voices of Recovery, I’m encouraging my fellow addicts to break their anonymity and share their story of recovery. I believe by sharing our stories we can help other people still struggling who may be too scared or ashamed to walk in an AA meeting. Furthermore, like you, I believe 12 step programs aren’t the end all, be all means of recovery. In fact, many have found success with other therapies, as you mentioned. This knowledge should be passed on, not harbored. It could help someone who’s not had luck with twelve-step programs.

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