Are You In Or Are You Out?
Gotta love the anonymity debate. For years, many addicts and recovering addicts relied heavily on the anonymous nature of traditional 12-step programs. With the increase of technology empowering those addicted and in recovery to have a “voice”, the curtain of anonymity is being dropped. The issue being raised questions if anonymity is still safe due to the increase in recovering addicts coming out of the addiction closet. Fear is also rising regarding the protection of the anonymity of those that choose to remain anonymous. In my opinion, I’ really fucking tired of hearing about this debate.
While the controversy over remaining anonymous runs rampant, I figured I would add a few points to hopefully clarify the situation. Simply put, I don’t see a problem. I highly doubt that individuals who opt to be public about their recovery or struggles with addiction are going to start a campaign to “out” the entire community. Also, I don’t think that by openly declaring your addiction status threatens the anonymity of those that opt to no be as open. Individuals that wish to remain anonymous can do so and those that opt to declare their addiction or recovery to the world at large should be free to do so as well. I fall (obviously) into the category of people who decided to shed their anonymity. Why did I do this?
I made the personal choice to become public about my struggles with alcohol and drugs and subsequent day-to-day success of remaining sober and thriving in recovery. I did so because I am lucky enough to deal with the stigma on my terms. I am not in a position to lose employment and I am willing to deal with personal backlash because of my public admission of addiction. I am extremely lucky that I have not had to bear a stigma cross for this blog, my activity on twitter or recovery status updates on Facebook.
Make A Choice
If you want to come out of the addiction closet then do it if you want to remain protected by anonymity then do that. But for the love of God don’t just sit on the fence. I take issue with individuals who wish to use addiction and recovery only when it suits them and then run and hide behind the curtain of assumed anonymity when they encounter people, places and things that don’t give them a gold star for being sober or give them an award for living past their addiction hell. Therefore, one must put on their adult panties and make a decision that they can live with. Just keep your side of the street clean.
In the end, it comes down to choice, that nasty responsibility of free will. Simply make your decision based on your comfort level. I don’t see people walking around with signs demanding that you out yourself as an addict or an addict in recovery. Nor do I see signs being waved that all addicts and recovering addicts must remain anonymous in order to keep the collective whole safe. The stigma of addiction will not end until society becomes comfortable with the word “addict”.
Addiction is a very lonely disease. For me, being ‘out’ has lifted the shame that is associated with being a drunk in recovery. I made bad choices. I hurt a lot of people and now… now I make living amends and I take each 24 that I am given in stride.
Whichever choice you make, embrace it, be responsible for it and take ownership. You are not being forced to choose to be public or private. Be true to yourself and the decision to be anonymous or out of the addiction closet will be the right one… for you.