A.A.’s Anonymity Reflects Humility and Upholds Sobriety

Recovery Reflections: November 1, 2017

Hello there, my name is Leah and I would like to welcome you once more to Detox to Rehab’s Recovery Reflections. Please join us and listen to the experience, strength and hope shared by Jen, Madison, Patrick and Joey.

We pre-record one of our reflections every week for you to watch. In these sessions, individuals in recovery express how the reading of the week relates to their own experiences and has helped them along their paths.

Alcoholics Anonymous

To us, however, it represents far more than a sound public relations policy. It is more than a denial of self-seeking. This Tradition is a constant and practical reminder that personal ambition has no place in A.A. In it, each member becomes an active guardian of our fellowship.

12 Steps and 12 Traditions, p. 183

“The basic concept of humility is expressed in the Eleventh Tradition: it allows me to participate completely in the program in such a simple yet profound manner; it fulfills my need to be an integral part of a significant whole. Humility brings me closer to the actual spirit of togetherness and oneness, without which I could not stay sober. In remembering that every member is an example of sobriety, each one living the Eleventh Tradition, I am able to experience freedom because each one of us is anonymous.”

A.A.’s Anonymity Reflects Humility

The eleventh tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous is about the anonymity of A.A. Not only does this offer a security or protection for members, but it reflects the program’s inherent principles of humility. Self-promotion of individuals in the program, about their participation in the program itself is counter to that humility factor.

This program doesn’t call for famous people who are members (many, though, there are) to promote and convince others to try it out. This breaks anonymity, but it also expresses a kind of vanity that is not reflected in the program.

Like Jen said: “If you’re a good person, you don’t need to tell people that you’re a good person.”

People will notice and learn that you are a good person just by observing your behavior. Similarly, people need to see, in action, that the program works to believe and think that it might work for them. As members strive for humility, the collective interest turns to the function of the greater organism of the program and fellowship, not about personal ambition. This upholds the program itself; this is how it works.

It is important to note that, while A.A. began as a program for alcoholics, the 12-step program serves people who have abused any and all substances. There are countless anonymous groups that specify other substances, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and so on.

A.A.’s Anonymity Helps Newcomers to Sobriety

People who have long been in active addiction, abusing Alcohol or drugs, are in a dark place. They often feel hopeless, depressed and without love. Many report feeling apathetic even about the possibility of dying. It can be powerful to hear someone in a meeting express these same feelings and experiences that he or she has truly overcome through A.A.

Joey recalled his realization: “these people have walked through what I’ve walked through… whatever they’ve got now, I want that.”

The ability to empathize with these experiences and recognize that these individuals are now healthy and happy often draws people in and opens them up to participate in A.A.

Joey clarified, “If I wasn’t attracted to the program, if someone was sitting in front of me and trying to sell me a dream. . . I wouldn’t have done it.”

Many Don’t Believe in A.A. Just from Promotion

Most people have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous and maybe other 12-step chapters. A.A. does have a reputation, but the truth is that most people don’t immediately believe it works from just this. Someone in active addiction most likely is skeptical that there is a way out of their substance abuse at all.

As far as most are concerned, they have little reason to believe otherwise.

“I didn’t believe them,” Patrick said, “I thought they were all liars… now it’s four and half years later and I still haven’t drank.”

Once they are trying the program out, many people realize that it is indeed working— often to their own disbelief.

“I finally [found fulfillment] through the steps—begrudgingly at first, but I still found it,” Patrick reflected.

If you feel hopeless, alone or lost in substance abuse, there are people who want to help. You are not alone. Many have been in your shoes before, and have experienced the desperation and dread that you feel. To speak with someone who is in recovery from addiction and who can relate to how you are feeling, call (866)578-7471. The person who answers will listen to your story and help you to find a solution.

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