New Law Protects Sponsors and Addicts
Anonymity is truly the cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous. Without this time-honored convention, many addicts and alcoholics would not seek the treatment they so desperately need, for fear of social repercussions or discrimination from peers and employers. Let’s face it – addiction is still a highly stigmatized disease. Those who lack firsthand experience tend to condemn addicts and alcoholics as weak-willed delinquents, without truly attempting to understand the psychological and physical implications of the disease. However, the recent opiate epidemic that has absolutely confounded the nation has lead to an increased awareness, resulting in a more widespread understanding of the non-discriminatory and life-shattering nature of addiction. Perhaps this newfound cognizance has contributed to the development of a new law which gives AA sponsors the same protection as doctors and attorneys when it comes to testifying in civil court.
Anonymity is Protected – By Law
A new Washington state law aims to protect the anonymity of individuals who are in addiction recovery, hoping that taking anonymity more seriously will help provoke more struggling addicts to seek treatment. The bill passed the House with a total of 94 votes, receiving unanimous support from the Senate. While it was originally vetoed by Governor Jay Inslee, the legislature voted to override the veto and officially made SB 6498 into law. The main goal of this law is to protect men and women who are in recovery as well as their program sponsors, meaning that neither party can be called on in court to testify in civil proceedings. And while this law does not apply to criminal proceedings, it is certainly a big step in the direction of improved confidentiality for those involved in 12-step programs. The addict-sponsor relationship is finally being taken seriously, in other words.
Sponsors Now Protected in Court of Law
The confidentiality law previously covered doctors and their patients, as well as counselors, journalists, and attorneys and spouses. Now addicts and their sponsors are covered as well. What is a sponsor?
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The bill specifically defines the term ‘sponsor’ as “an individual who acts as a sponsor providing guidance, emotional support, and counseling in an individualized manner to a person participating in an alcohol or drug addiction recovery fellowship.” It is believed that eliminating pre-existing barriers to treatment, such as fear of exposure, will help more addicts and alcoholics to begin seeking the help they need. This bill will help those in recovery to speak openly with peer supports and designated sponsors, without fear of facing consequences.
There is much truth to the old AA adage, “secrets keep us sick”, and eliminating the risk of facing prosecution after the spilling the beans to a trusted mentor may help many more addicts maintain the long0term and fulfilled sobriety they deserve. There are many benefits to this law; above all else it represents one more great stride towards the national understanding of addiction as a faultless disease. For more information, please feel free to contact us at Lighthouse Recovery Institute today!