Is Anonymity Still Required in Addiction Recovery?

Is Anonymity Still Required in Addiction Recovery?

When a person comes out of treatment for addiction, it can feel as if a stigma is attached to the situation and circumstances surrounding the person’s life. It is ultimately up to an individual whether or not to share publicly the struggle with addiction and recovery but anonymity can have its challenges as well as its benefits. Learn more about the purpose of anonymity and whether it is still necessary in addiction recovery.

Purpose of Anonymity

Anonymity is a core tenet of addiction recovery going back to the 1930’s. While participants in recovery programs are free to tell people about sobriety, it is not required. Anonymity serves a few purposes, including the following:

Protect privacy of 12-step group members to ensure no confidentiality is breached and all members feel safe

Protect the integrity of the 12-step process where members do not use the program for self-promotion and success off the challenges of others

Clarification of an equal playing field that, regardless of status, gender, wealth, sobriety length and other factors, no one person in recovery is above another

Outdated Concept

Many people find talking about recovery today is better than being completely anonymous. Nobody advocates ‘outing’ another person in recovery but many believe people in recovery should share sober stories for personal empowerment and to enhance awareness of the disease and treatment. Addiction has been going mainstream recently with more celebrities, politicians and public figures sharing private struggles.

Overcoming Stigma

The stigma of addiction will be broken down only slowly, over the course of time. It is still seen by some as weakness or a character flaw to have addiction. While the battle rages on, lives continue to be won and lost. To overcome stereotypes, it helps for people to recognize the reality of addiction is not just graduate treatment and enter recovery for eternity. Sometimes people relapse and sometimes individuals are triggered to use. It is all part of the journey. Being open can produce a sense of pride in the process and gains made, however big or small. Sobriety is an individual victory as well as a community win. Focusing on the strengths and accomplishments build confidence for the longer journey of recovery ahead. Ultimately, the choice to share the journey is personal and need not be filled with pressure to tell others all the details. Knowing what to choose and when to share is part of taking ownership of the recovery process which is incumbent on each person to decide what is appropriate for himself or herself to share, if at all.

Finding your way to recovery can be challenging but not impossible. Call us if you are a young man or family member of an adolescent needing help to get there and we will journey with you.


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