Privacy and Anonymity in Recovery

“We families of alcoholics anonymous keep few skeletons in the closet. Everyone knows about the others’ alcoholic troubles. This is a condition, which, in ordinary life, would produce untold grief; there might be scandalous gossip, laughter at the expense of other people, and a tendency to take advantage of intimate information. Among us, these are rare occurrences. We do talk about each other a great deal, but we almost invariably temper such talk by a spirit of love and tolerance. Another principle we observe carefully is that we do not relate intimate experiences of another person unless we are sure he would approve. We find it better, when possible, to stick to our own stories. A man may criticize to laugh at himself and it will affect others favorably, but criticism and ridicule coming from another often produce the contrary effect”. – Pg125 The Family Afterward from the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous

It is one thing to share our experience, strength, and hope with someone who is looking for alcohol addiction help but it is a totally different story in regards to sharing others experiences. It is neither our right nor our responsibility to do so. If there is something we don’t have experience with and we wish to help someone by sharing someone else’s experience then we need to make it a point to ask that person if it is okay. In Los Angeles rehabs, AA, and other rehab programs in California we are taught to respect people’s privacy and boundaries. Keeping things confidential is of the utmost importance so that everyone can feel safe especially while working the steps. We all have a right to be here and to share our experience with the people we choose to. It is important that we don’t gossip but instead that we are sharing in order to carry the message to the newcomer so that they know that there is an alternative to living the way they are living.

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