Often loved ones or friends in Alcoholics Anonymous have many questions about meetings and the process designed to help people get sober. It is natural to have questions but it helps to understand why anonymity is so important to the process of sobriety, recovery and AA.
Within AA Itself
Most people who are not members of AA and never attended a meeting know little more about the meetings than what is seen on television. The scene may play over and over but it is just a bunch of strangers who meet to those who do not understand. The whole idea is to help each other build friendships and long lasting support for recovery. People in the meeting share names, addresses, phone numbers and call to offer help or encouragement for the journey.
While AA members share information including personal details others may not share it outside the meeting with people. When AA first began, people who struggle with alcoholism did not share for fear of shaming or reprisal. This meant members of AA may lose jobs or positions of authority in society. Many new members don’t want the gossip associated with spotlight of addiction. Revealing members’ identities outside the group betrays personal trust but may also threaten lives or livelihoods (the very purpose AA began was to create a safe space).
One of the principles of AA is humility and anyone who speaks on the radio or in public and shares others’ stories is not being humble. AA does not condone this behavior and speaking public is for the person themselves, not AA itself. Members of AA are welcome to speak publicly about the personal support that was found but should not share other people’s information.
Anonymity is very important to people in recovery, especially from alcohol abuse. It is a very personal journey that takes time to rebuild trust in others. When that trust is broken it can be harder to trust others and also find ways to build a personal pathway towards success in recovery once trust is broken. It helps to have people who understand why anonymity matters and not press the issue. Loved ones who understand this process are more likely to find the individual with addiction more amenable to interactions and engagements than pulling away because he or she thinks people will just ask too may questions when the individual just wants to get on with life and focus on positive living in sobriety.
The Villa understands the importance of anonymity to sobriety and recovery. If you are seeking a safe space to explore recovery options, call us. We are here to help you, without judgment or agenda.