Tag: anonymity

An Alcoholic Breaks His Anonymity

Did He Break a Tradition?

breaking anonymity

Earlier this month, the Huffington Post published an essay by a recovering alcoholic. In this moving piece of writing, the author talks about his personal journey to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. He also touches on the lessons he’s learned through his eighteen years of sobriety.

Sounds awesome, right? Well it is! The essay’s an announcement of experience, strength, and hope. It’s a beacon of truth that we can all recover! Until, of course, you consider the fact that the author violated a cardinal tradition.

I’m talking about the eleventh tradition, 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” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions).

Let’s examine both angles and see if we can fully unpack what’s really going on in this essay.

Speaking of controversy, what’s up with ORT?

Experience, Strength & Hope

First things first, the author (who I’ve chosen not to name) wrote a beautiful meditation on what the road to recovery is like. He touches on the insidious and destructive nature of alcoholism in a way we can all relate to.

He writes passages like, “Every alcoholic is an unwitting player acting out his or her part not in a tragic comedy, but in a comic tragedy,” and “From the first drink to my last alcoholic binge, I was chasing a solution that never quite worked.”

A solution that never quite worked! That’s a wonderful way to describe what drugs and alcohol do for us addicts and alcoholics.

Finally, the author attends a meeting and finds some hope. The rest of the essay is a reflection on his eighteen plus years of sobriety. As I mentioned above, it serves as a beacon of hope for the still sick and suffering alcoholic. It’s a cut and dry message that not only is sobriety possible, but it’s within the grasp of everyone.

That’s a priceless message. It’s certainly what I try to convey in my articles here. To offer hope to those who have none, to try and help a lost soul, is the primary purpose of AA. It’s the first thing that recovering alcoholics think about in the morning and the last thought before their heads hit the pillow.

So, it could be argued that the author was really carrying a message of hope, sobriety, and serenity. It could also be argued that he violated one of the most important traditions. In fact, that very argument has been unfolding in a small portion of the recovery community.

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Personal Anonymity

Before I get into the controversy this essay’s stirred up, let’s look at why the eleventh tradition is around to begin with.

The eleventh tradition, and anonymity in AA, has little to nothing to do with individual alcoholics. Many people think it exists to save men and women from disclosing a potentially embarrassing part of their life to friends, family, and coworkers. This simply isn’t the case.

11th tradition

Rather, the eleventh tradition exists to protect AA itself. It’s a way for Alcoholics Anonymous to avoid being torn down in the media via an unreliable spokesperson. It’s a way to avoid any one member gaining influence, ego, and fame. It’s a way for a society of recovering individuals to protect the very house they found shelter in.

So, when someone breaks this tradition, well, members of AA are usually pretty upset. Understandably so! When someone breaks their personal anonymity in the media, they open AA to attack and misinformation.

Here we reach the center of this recent recovery controversy. Is the author of the Huffington Post essay doing his job as a member of AA or is he disregarding the policies that govern his fellowship? Why didn’t he write in general terms, saying things like “twelve-step fellowships” and “the rooms of recovery?” Why did he explicitly attach a name, face, and personality to Alcoholics Anonymous?

Ultimately, these questions don’t have one answer. It’d be nice if they did, but, as with most aspects of recovery, they don’t. The answer is different for each individual. Some will view the author as a hero, offering hope to those struggling with chemicals. Others will view him as a villain, someone who unwittingly jeopardized the very group he claims to love.

What do you think? Let us know on social media!

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Anonymous People: Long-Term Sobriety in the Spotlight

The Anonymous People: A Must See For People in Recovery

the anonymous people

You may have heard of The Anonymous People. It’s a documentary film that came out in late 2013 and has been causing some ripples in the recovery community.

People, both in recovery and not, are pretty divided about it. They seem to love it or hate it. Consider, for example, The Anonymous People holds a 43% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Or that it’s been critically panned by major media outlets.

On the other hand, The Anonymous People has more than succeeded at its goal – to get people talking about both addiction and recovery. The group that made the film, Faces & Voices of Recovery has seen a dramatic increase in support of their causes.

So, what is The Anonymous People all about? Is it a heroic example of those in long-term recovery breaking the chain of silence? Is it a poorly executed documentary film? Is it both at once? Let’s find out.

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The Anonymous People: The Truth Behind the Film

The Anonymous People is a project from MANYFACES1VOICE. MANYFACES1VOICE, in turn, is a project of Faces & Voices of Recovery. I’ll explore Faces & Voices of Recovery, and the wonderful work they’re doing, later.

The Anonymous People began as a Kickstarter project way back in 2012. It quickly surpassed its modest $45,000 goal. In fact, by the time their Kickstarter ended, they’d raised upwards of $70,000.

The goal of The Anonymous People was to document some of the over twenty-three million Americans in long-term recovery. They achieved this goal and then some! To quote their literature –

“Just like women with breast cancer, or people with HIV/AIDS, courageous addiction recovery advocates are starting to come out of the shadows to tell their true stories…This passionate new public recovery movement is fueling a changing conversation that aims to transform public opinion, and finally shift problematic policy toward lasting recovery solutions” (The Anonymous People).

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The Anonymous People: The Movie that Broke Anonymity

One of the criticisms most often leveled against The Anonymous People is that those in the film are breaking their anonymity.

Much like the steps, twelve-step fellowships also have traditions. Tradition number eleven reads, “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.”

Many people have accused The Anonymous People of breaking this tradition and even profiting from members’ anonymity. This is where things get controversial.

Does The Anonymous People break the anonymity of those in the film? I’m not so sure. First, not once does anyone refer to being a member of a specific twelve-step fellowship. Rather, they identify as “individuals in long-term recovery from substance-abuse disorder.”

Second, it’s been argued that anonymity actually hurts the sober community. Debating this point would open up a whole can of worms that I have no desire to open. Instead, I’ll simply say the mission of The Anonymous People is to change how society at large views addiction and recovery.

The fact that I’m writing this article, or that people are debating anonymity, proves the film has accomplished its goal.

Learn what long-term sobriety is really about!

Faces & Voices of Recovery

faces and voices of recovery

As mentioned above, the organization behind The Anonymous People is Faces & Voices of Recovery. They’re a non-profit addiction treatment and reform advocacy group, formed in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2001.

A little over a decade since their humble beginning, Faces & Voices of Recovery has exploded, both in membership and scope. They boast over 25,000 members and have many various offshoots.

Take, for example, The Association of Recovery Community Organizations. They’re an international network of recovery organizations, with chapters in America, Canada, and the U.K.

Faces & Voices of Recovery advocates for a drastic change in how the public views addiction, recovery, and addiction treatment. To that end, they’ve lobbied local and state legislatures. They’ve hosted countless events. They’ve strived, for thirteen years now, to affect positive change for those suffering from addiction.

Addiction is a complicated and often misunderstood disorder. Quality addiction treatment requires a comprehensive and compassionate approach. Fortunately, that’s where Lighthouse Recovery Institute steps in.

We offer Comprehensive Addiction Treatment at a variety of levels. Call us today at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015 to find out about our individualized and inclusive substance abuse programs.

Recovery is possible for anyone and everyone. Learn how we help you or a loved one take the first step towards a new life.

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