The Importance of Anonymity

The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles that hold our groups and society together.

The Importance of Anonymity

Postby Tommy-S » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:29 pm

The Importance of Anonymity

Traditionally, A.A. members have always taken care to preserve their anonymity at the “public” level: press, radio, television, and films; today this extends to the Internet and digital technologies.

In the early days of A.A., when more stigma was attached to the term “alcoholic” than is the case today, this reluctance to be identified — and publicized — was easy to understand.

As the Fellowship of A.A. grew, the positive values of anonymity soon became apparent.

First, we know from experience that many problem drinkers might hesitate to turn to A.A. for help if they thought their problem might be discussed publicly, even inadvertently, by others.

Newcomers should be able to seek help with assurance that their identities will not be disclosed to anyone outside the Fellowship.

Then, too, we believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a spiritual significance for us — that it discourages the drives for personal recognition, power, prestige, or profit that have caused difficulties in some societies. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with alcoholics might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition.

While each member of A.A. is free to make his or her own interpretations of A.A. tradition, no individual member is ever recognized as a spokesperson for the Fellowship locally, nationally, or internationally. Each member speaks only for himself or herself.

A.A. is indebted to all media professionals for their assistance in strengthening the Tradition of anonymity over the years. From time to time, the General Service Office contacts all major media in the United States and Canada, describing the Tradition and asking for cooperation in its observance.

An A.A. member may, for various reasons, “break anonymity” deliberately at the public level. Since this is a matter of individual choice and conscience, the Fellowship as a whole obviously has no control over such deviations from tradition. It is clear, however, that such individuals do not have the approval of the overwhelming majority of members.

(“AA Fact File”, pg 11) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/m-24_aafactfile.pdf


Gratefully, Anonymity was one of the attractions of Alcoholics Anonymous for me.

Though much of what I had done behind the drink had been a matter of public record, and a source of shame and embarrassment for those near and dear to me, the principle that what I shared with that alcoholic would remain with that alcoholic allowed me to safely get honest about my drinking to those who could best help me -- AA.

(And by honest, I am not referring to the more humorous stories that I told others to minimize my drinking and give the impression "I had it under control". I am referring particularly to those things which bothered and burned me, the nightmares I trembled to think someone might have observed.)

As others demonstrated by sharing & reliving the horrors of their drinking, I eased in to sharing aloud the price I had paid for the high cost of low living behind Alcohol, and in doing so, found a connection with those other alcoholics that led to a way out.

Those who came before me also demonstrated Anonymity in their lack of 'big-shot-ism". The ones who had time talked only of being sober this day... Today. There were no experts, no lectures, no axes to grind or butts to kiss. Everyone was equally just 'one drink away from the drunk', and none too busy or proud to help another, when asked.

Anonymity is a protection for the alcoholic seeking a way out of that Mad Realm. It is also a reminder never to get too full of myself, sacrificing the good of many before the desires of Self. I am grateful to those who showed me that Anonymity was the essence of Spirituality.

Thanks... Tommy
Together, we don't have to cave in or wimp out to that Fatal First One, no matter what today!
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Re: The Importance of Anonymity

Postby Jaywalker Steve » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:19 am

Then, too, we believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a spiritual significance for us — that it discourages the drives for personal recognition, power, prestige, or profit that have caused difficulties in some societies. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with alcoholics might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition.


Thanks Tom!

It's difficult to be humble in the center of attention. Humility and pride can't coexist. One moves me closer to God and away from the first drink. The other reverses things.
Every group has men and women who put too much thought and effort into their daily sobriety and not enough of themselves into their daily living. - Ed B., Akron, OH
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Re: The Importance of Anonymity

Postby Duke » Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:41 am

I like to think of life as an anonymous program. The further I stay away from it being about me, the better I am. It's a good day. Thanks. Tommy
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa
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