4 thoughts on “The Stigma of Sex Addiction Part 1: The “Non-Anonymous” Movement

  • September 10, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Here is the official explanation on AA’s anonymity policy. http://www.aa.org/lang/en/catalog.cfm?origpage=333&product=7I can see the importance of anonymity in the whole 12 step program but I also think it is important that people with addiction and any kind of mental health issue are open. To me it seems that when these 12 steps groups were created that there was a greater need for anonymity because the stigma was even more severe. Even though there is still less stigma it is helpful for newcomers to know that they can remain anonymous if they want. A lot of times new people come into the 12 step rooms and they hardly want to lift up their head let alone identify themselves.Besides the fact that some people do want to protect their personal privacy I think the even bigger issue today is the whole “principles before personalities” thing you mentioned. The 12 step programs don’t want to create “12 step celebrities” (which I know sometimes happens among the members themselves) They don’t want to have spokespeople. I think they are trying to avoid someone that needs help thinking “I thought about going to AA but Mr.aaspokesman is in AA and he is such a jerk I never want to be like that.” They also do not want people profiting from the AA, SLAA, SAA etc names.All that being said I think it is great that people want to be open about their issues. Raising awareness about mental health issues and addiction is my greatest passion! From my understanding I don’t think the official 12 step stance is against people being open about their addictions, they just don’t want the specific program’s name being promoted or used to further a member’s personal agenda. 🙂

  • September 10, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Thanks for a balanced look at this aspect of the exploding interest in addiction and recovery. The negative perception of the “sex addict next door” portion nails it perfectly. Only when the solid line between our public masks vs. our private selves dissolves will we truly be able to accept each other without ignorance and prejudice. Since conformity is the most powerful social force in America, I don’t see that happening any time soon!Anonymity is a multi-faceted concept that has an interesting history in AA. It is certainly not “secretive” in a negative sense. It is a powerful stabilizing principle that’s been working well in AA for 70 years.

  • September 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks for the blog Linda. Truthfully, the hype around Alcoholics Anonymous strikes me as funny sometimes. Here it is, an AA meeting in practically every community in the world (besides for Egypt – they are in De’Nile!). It is completely free, and there is no obligations or commitments to stay if you don’t like it. It is merely a group of recovering alcoholics where the sober members say to the new members “this how I stay sober”. The new member then gets to decide if he or she is in, or out. That simple.

    It astounds me sometimes how much time, emotional energy, and money money money is spent debating people’s opinions on the organization. AA members seem to be the most unconcerned about all the debate. From what I have seen in my professional career, they seem to be the first to tell skeptics what it says (on page 144) of their program book Alcoholics Anonymous that “by no means do we offer the last word on this subject, but this is what has worked for us.”

    Here are some key points that may calm people down. Anonymity was a big deal in 1935 when AA began and without it the AA fellowship could not have survived. Anonymity is only about the privacy of protecting other member’s anonymity however. Anonymity has nothing to do with an addict’s personal disclosure. If a client admits to others that he or she is an alcoholic or sex addict they have not gone against the rules of any 12 step program. Nor does AA tell anyone they are not allowed to tell others their last names. Simply put, AA wants what happens in a meeting to stay within the meeting, and who people see at a meeting should never leave the meeting. People who attend meetings should never talk as if they represent their 12 step program. These are the principles of anonymity as I have understood them.

    Thus recovering sex addicts can tell people all they wants that they are sex addicts and they can share all the details they choose to disclose. It is only when they begin to be specific to others about SA or SAA meetings, where they are, and who goes to them that they are breaking anonymity.

  • September 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    This is a scary post if what you are advocating is that the anonymity request for 12-step meetings be dropped, or even that there are advantages to doing so.

    There are advantages to doing away with bright-line blood alcohol tests for drunk driving, since some people can drive fine at .12 blood alcohol. But that doesn’t mean we should do it!

    Gossip and people with verbal flatulence are bad enough, but I’ve seen what happens when SAA member(s)breach anonymity in public by approaching each other in crowds, at restaurants, etc., and it isn’t pretty. I personally know of people who never returned to an SAA meeting after that joyous surprise — yes, I’m being sarcastic — happened to them.


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