On recovery advocacy and anonymity:
. . . when supporters of the Recovery Movement conflate ‘spiritual anonymity’ and ‘secrecy,’ they fail to appreciate the richness of the practice for individuals, and the value of freely available, financially and ideologically independent fellowships, not associated with particular individuals or recovery ‘gurus’, important though these may be.
I’d add ‘shame’ as well. It also seems to get conflated with anonymity.
Published by Jason Schwartz
I have been an addiction professional and social worker since 1994. I started blogging in 2005 as the Clinical Director at Dawn Farm. I no longer work at Dawn Farm and am now the Director of Behavioral Medicine at a community hospital, and a lecturer at Eastern Michigan University’s School of Social Work.
Views expressed here are my own.
Keep in mind that the field, the contexts in which the field operates, and my views have changed over time.
View all posts by Jason Schwartz
4 thoughts on “Sentences to ponder”
I have never been anonymous from the time I left treatment over 30 years ago because my role model was Betty Ford. My boss knew and treated me like I needed to find God, now he actually thought I was a great worker when I was drinking even though I missed a lot of work. My coworkers who I drank with stayed at arms length. My family, who continued to drink treated me like a traitor. I have been in the field of addiction treatment and am now on some boards around the area but I still think the stigma exists even if you are not anonymous. Thank God for program people and some others who support and are truly happy for us. I am not sure what the answer is but I know I am greatful, happy and remain ready to help others.
PRAISE GOD this is AMAZING
Ivana Grahovac, MSW Executive Director Transforming Youth Recovery 990 Highland Drive, Suite 308 Solana Beach, CA 92075 Phone (858) 350-1111 Ext. 104 Fax (858) 259-0377
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Interesting blog. You can be anonymous about your 12 step program but not about your recovery.
My name is Liz and I’m a person in long-term recovery and what that means to me is my 8 year old son has never seen his mother drunk or high. God made that possible.
A) I don’t mention the program of recovery I use (anonymity)
B) I don’t take credit for my recovery (humility)
C) “what that means to me…” You can argue with that.
D) I don’t use the word alcoholic or addict since there is a stigma associated with those words
E) I let people know that long term recovery is possible, giving the message of hope.
While people in recovery have been “spiritually humble” touting anonymity as the reason, 350 people die daily. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that sort of spirituality.
Get out there and do 12 step work anonymously.
Get out there and do random acts of kindness anonymously.
Donate to charity anonymously.
Stay anonymous ABOUT YOUR 12 STEP FELLOWSHIP at the level of press, radio, film and Internet.
BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE, RECOVER OUT LOUD! (If you are in long-term sobriety) People need to know that long-term recovery is not only possible, but it’s available for anyone looking for a solution.
Anonymity does not mean silence.
This article also stated in the beginning that the same stigma exists for addicts actively using and in recovery. It’s hard to hate up close. There would be a lot less stigma if people realized that they probably already know someone in recovery whether it be a co-worker, neighbor, church member, friend’s child, old high school friend… Someone. They don’t know that they know someone because those people are walking around silent.
Peace, Love, & Sobriety
You and I seem to have had a different read of the article.
I read it as endorsing the compatibility of anonymity and advocacy. But, it pushed back on the conflation of traditional anonymity with secrecy and shame. I share the writer’s concern. I consider myself an advocate too, but I find this conflation to be disrespectful and condescending to people who practice a more traditional form of anonymity. (Not to mention inaccurate. The 12th step in the 12 & 12 discusses sharing our stories with employers, business associates and in any situation it might be helpful. Hardly secretive.) The writer also seemed to express concern that these statements seem to reduce anonymity to a set of rules, failing to acknowledge it as a spiritual practice within 12 step fellowships.
So, I did not read this as suggesting we should be bound by tradition. Rather, that we should respect tradition–we should recognize that there is wisdom in them which has brought the recovering community to the point where this advocacy is possible, and we should stay mindful of it as a valuable individual spiritual practice.
All the best,
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