Not long after I took my last drink, popped my last pill, and entered recovery, I said to myself I told myself I’d write a book about my life with alcohol and drugs. I had survived countless encounters with death, and actually was brought back to life towards the end after a drug overdose in a suicide attempt. I felt I had a lot to say about my experience with alcoholism and drug addiction, and had lived to tell it.
What I didn’t realize at the time is that I had little to say about recovery. That soon changed after starting to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. A few months or even a few years didn’t qualify me to talk about how I had finally learned how not to relapse as I had done so many times during my active years of addiction. I had little in the way of hope to offer another person who was experiencing what I had experienced. One thing I learned as a doctor is you don’t want to tell someone they have a life threatening disease without offering a solution, especially alcoholism and drug addiction, both hopeless conditions.
As I accrued time in recovery, I had more advice to pass on to the still suffering addict. Just exactly when I would try to do that in a book was not clear to me. I had grown to realize anonymity was key to my recovery so telling my story to the world with my identity was potentially a deal breaker. In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous has traditions which members follow, namely, tradition eleven 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 Tradition Twelve states. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
In the short form, I should remain anonymous for the sake of my recovery and AA as a whole. These traditions were learned the hard way when early members of AA broke their anonymity and publicly announced their alcoholic identities, some high profile, and later relapsed. For many years, I was reluctant to write my story for public consumption. However, AA also has Tradition Five, states “Each group has but one primary purpose: to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. In the short form, helping others is central to the purpose and existence of AA, a magical inspiration that makes recovery work.