Reveal or Not Reveal

Another follower at Guitars and Life raised an interesting question to a recovery minded podcast, BUZZKILL Pod. The question posed is “Reveal or Not Reveal?”. The discussion revolves around views whether recovering addicts should or should not reveal themselves as such, a person in recovery? Those of us in recovery have different views on the subject. For those interested, this is my view on the topic.

Recovery programs were established in the early 1930’s. Since then people in need of recovery from around the world come together to discuss a new way of life as a recoverying addict. Due to the stigma surrounding addiction, these meetings are typically held in private. Anonymity is of upmost importance. A tradition was put in place, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we always maintain anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.” The tradition was placed as a means of protecting those in recovery from the stigma.

With the help of advanced sciences, the understanding of addiction has changed, yet the stigma still relatively remains the same. Ken Hensley, an English singer-songwriter, puts addiction in perspective, “It is hard to understand addiction unless you have experienced it.” In other words, unless your an addict or a recovering addict, most likely you truly do not understand what we are going through. For instance, a large view of the population asks, “Why can’t you just stop?” We wish it was just that easy. Others still view addicts as helpless criminals who should be locked away. Another stigma, not all addicts are criminals. These views need to be changed, otherwise those in active addiction may never find recovery.

In recent years a movement to bring a better understanding of addiction through promotion of prevention and education by recovering addicts has become prevelant in the media. Thus, the controversy in the recovery community over disclosure. Some believe such disclosure violates the tradition, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion . . .” The key word here is “promotion”. In addition, “. . . we always maintain anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.” We now hear about addiction in all types of media. Where should people draw the line? Traditions tend to change over time. For instance, you have a Christmas tradition surviving in your family for generations. Do you follow the exact tradition from when it was started? Of course not. As time goes on, the tradition changes in some form or another due to circumstances.

In today’s society, circumstances have changed. One can find a host of information on the Internet about “trends in addiction” using Google. Historically, one type of addiction will be prevelant for years, while other wanes. For instance, at the time the tradition was written, alcoholism was the most prevelant addiction known. During other times, marijuana, cocaine, meth or another drug was prevelant. Today, we are currently experiencing an epidemic of herion addiction.

Finally, here are my thoughts on disclosure. Yes, I believe in upholding the tradition, while on the other hand it is my responsiblity to practice the 12th Step, as a recovering addict. Self-disclosure is a personal choice. Some disclose their recovery to no one, keeping to the tradition of self-protection. Others choose to disclose their recovery to others for various reasons. For instance, in a 12-Step program, the 12th Step states, ““Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics/addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

All active addicts become hopeless – we hit “rock bottom”. Our addiction takes us places we never through imaginable. We are shrouded in shame, guilt, anger, selfishness, etc. All those things made me feel alone; the only person on this Earth in a revolving cycle of destruction to myself and those around me. Recovery brought me hope; recovery is a way of living with my addiction.

Early in my recovery, I learned disclosure should only be done to those who were in recovery. I had to learn a different way of living. Therefore I only could learn through other recovering addicts. But there was a point in my recovery where I felt disclosure of my recovery was necessary to more than just recovering addicts. I was comfortable with who I was, where I was in my own recovery. It is my choice to open my life to others for two reasons.

Most importantly to another active addict. Doing so gives them an opportunity to learn what I’ve been through. Hopefully, they decide for themselves to learn more about recovery and a new way of life with addiction. Second, my disclosure to the general public is a hope to help them better understand of who we are as addicts (both recovering and active). By sharing my experiences both in active addiction and recovery giving them a chance to walk in my shoes. Perhaps this would give them an insight of feeling exactly where I’ve been and/or what I’m going through in my daily life.

For me, I won’t be here today, if I had not embraced sobriety. It was my personal choice to live another way because where I was and what I was doing wasn’t working. Enevitably, it would (and could) led to death if something didn’t change. Plain and simple. But I’m not one to force my beliefs or views on anyone. So I leave you with this,

I am Responsible. When Anyone, Anywhere
Reaches Out For Help,
I Want The Hand Of A.A. [or another program]
Always To Be There.
And For That,
I Am Responsible !

Help continue this discussion in the comments but please be civil. We all have different views.  Any and all comments are appreciated!

9 thoughts on “Reveal or Not Reveal

  1. Personally I will tell a person my own story and what I do daily to stay sober. Publicly I say I don’t drink anymore. That saves a lot of explaining. Also there is no insurance that I will be this way tomorrow. AA, NA or the myriad of other Anonymous programs don’t need the public exposure. It won’t help a newcomer who is already in doubt.

    Great topic good post. Thanks.


    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree that the Anonymous don’t want public exposure, hence “attraction rather than promotion”. But how do you feel about those of us that tell our stories publicly? My hope is that one person, perhaps attempting to get sober on their own with no knowledge of a recovery program becomes “aware” they are not alone and there is help out there is they want it. Or is that still crossing the line? Just wondering 🙂


  2. Ha, the common theme strikes we’re on a similar wave-length. I am proud and grateful to be an addict in recovery. I believe it is a spiritual revolution, as people turn from God the longing still exists and drugs and other things are used. We need each other to recover and return to God of our understanding


  3. Great post! (I am the Buzzkill guy, by the way – found your via Graham’s blog)
    I agree with what you said, and I didn’t talk much about the 12-step route much as I talked about it before, but I see the value in the traditions that AA has. There is some trepidation and interpretation of the 11th tradition etc in the modern age, but I think that many folks are able to find a balance. I generally don’t mention my fellowship, but I do talk about being in recovery. If they figure it out on their own, so be it! But I think that the idea that we should be in the shadows and not help others who may not know about recovery goes against what it is I am supposed to be doing – carrying the message of hope. My being open about it has been a great source of help to me and some others. I had several people from my past call me after seeing me / reading something I wrote on recovery, and asking them to help someone they know or even themselves with drinking. And how fantastic is that?

    Anyways, thanks for this. Glad to have crossed paths with you.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that Graham posted a link to the podcast too! I haven’t had the chance to listen to previous podcasts, but will do so on my day off. I really enjoy your own insight which inspired me to write my own thoughts. Thank you for connecting with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I appreciate the listen! It’s always great to talk about stuff like that. Reading other people’s thoughts like yours and talking to others and sharing always helps me to stay the course, no matter what we’re talking about. We don’t do this alone! Cheers!


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