Breaking the chains of addiction and building a new life of freedom in sobriety is a miraculous, life-changing experience. For the most generous and open-hearted, it can almost feel like a God-given duty to share the program with the world — and especially with any addicts or alcoholics you may know.
But Tradition Eleven clearly states, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.”
And while that means you certainly won’t be rushing to the local paper to do a story on your recovery, it also means — on a more intimate level — that you should shy away from playing spokesperson for your fellowship.
The goal for 12 Step fellowship members is to be a living example of the miracles of the program. When you are known as someone honest, kind, happy and productive in recovery, the hope is that those looking for relief and wanting what you have will approach you directly — when they are ready to surrender.
Taking a more proactive approach to spread the message can be dangerous for several reasons. One, you risk alienating addicts or alcoholics who are not yet ready to make a change. Feeling pressured into it, they might deliberately rebel and prolong their run.
Even more seriously — and this is hard for many to think about — if your own recovery is not solid and you relapse, the people to whom you have preached the program might automatically dismiss it, thinking they have proof that it doesn’t work.
Third, the more you talk about the program, the greater the likelihood that you can veer off from official fellowship material, adding your own interpretations of vital aspects of the 12 Steps, and inadvertently spreading misinformation.
Of course, the fellowships do allow for directly approaching an addict or alcoholic in a Twelfth Step Call. Indeed, such an intervention was the beginning of AA. But undertaking that step requires the cooperation and careful consideration of other members of your fellowship, and is not something you should undertake lightly, or alone.
Overall, if you’re grateful for the life that your Higher Power has given you in sobriety, the most powerful way you can show your gratitude is by trying to live as your best self at all times — especially in public. You never know when another addict or alcoholic may be watching, giving you the opportunity to play an important role in their own journey of recovery.