Ivan Baker Take: The Real Meaning of Anonymity

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anonymityAnonymity.

It is a word that is thrown around a lot. But do you really know what it means? You probably received your understanding of anonymity from the Anonymous groups. The groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. You probably think the tradition in AA that speaks on anonymity means something that it actually doesn’t. Because of this misunderstanding you have hidden in the dark about being an addict and more importantly you have hidden the fact that you have recovered. I didn’t say that you are cured, but that you have recovered.

Let’s clear up this misunderstanding.

The tradition in AA and the “Anonymous” part of AA’s name didn’t come from the belief that you shouldn’t mention that you are a recovered addict. It didn’t come from shame. And it didn’t come from guilt or the need to hide. We turned it into that. What that tradition was about, was just making sure no one became a representation of the AA or NA program. So shout it from the rooftops that you are an addict or alcoholic in recovery. Just don’t mention AA or NA. And its not that you can’t say your whole name associated with AA or NA at all, you can, just don’t do it on the level of press radio and films.

Currently, according to the General Services Organization, which took over from the Alcoholic Foundation,  “A.A. members may disclose their identity and speak as recovered alcoholics, giving radio, TV and Internet interviews, without violating the Traditions—so long as their A.A. membership is not revealed.”

The tradition was meant to protect the group from any single person becoming a representation of it on a level that includes press, radio and films as stated above. What we have turned it into is a shame thing. 

So be a representation of yourself right now as a recovered alcoholic, just don’t become a representation of AA or NA or whatever your fellowship of choice is if it is even a fellowship. And if you are going to represent AA or NA, and not just yourself as a recovered alcoholic or addict, make sure its on a lower level than press, radio and films. Am I making sense here?

So let us say this. Stop hiding the fact that you are a recovered addict. Hiding because of the anonymity tradition is bullshit. You are hiding the fact that you are a recovered alcoholic on your own accord and it is time to stop. Not only is it time to come out of the dark about being recovered alcoholics and addicts, it is time to stop blaming AA or NA for our own shame and guilt that we may be carrying about addiction. It all stems from us. Not the fellowship. If you want change in the perception of addiction and alcoholism it all starts with you right now. No more excuses.  

But Why Should I Tell People?

There are too many people in active addiction that live their lives not knowing there is a solution because we believe anonymous means to hide. Stop hiding. And stop using the traditions or the Anonymous as an excuse to be ashamed or feel guilty.

It is time people see that while there are millions of us who have been affected by the disease of addiction, there are also millions of us who have recovered from it. There are many of us who are going about our daily lives and who are very successful and intelligent who are recovered addicts or people in recovery. And its time that we stop shying away from that fact, and also that everyone else begins to embrace it.

Not every alcoholic is still under the bridge, not every heroin addict has a needle in their arm anymore. There are so many of us who have recovered. So many in fact, that almost everyone knows at least one person who is in recovery. And while you can’t say exactly how you recovered on a mass level, when that person who needs help calls you up, one on one, because you said you have recovered from addiction, don’t hesitate to tell them however it was that you managed to do it at that point. 

The Anonymous People

The Anonymous People video is what sparked us to say something about anonymity. And we believe that The Anonymous People are on a fantastic mission. A mission to finally take addicts and alcoholics out the dark. Finally, with something like this and hopefully with more understanding of what anonymity actually means for the group we can help others to recover. Just like there is awareness for breast cancer or HIV and AIDS, there needs to be open awareness of the disease of addiction and alcoholism. And not just about addiction or alcoholism, but about RECOVERY; about how people have gotten better. 

So what is your story? It is time to leave the shame and guilt in the past. It is time to embrace what it actually means to be anonymous and use your own success to help others. And when the others come knocking and want to know how you did it? Well, one by one you can tell them how. It is time that we say.

We are recovering people. I am a recovered addict. Want to know how I did it? Just ask me how.