“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
– William Wilson, co-founder of A.A.
From its inception in 1935 up until present day, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) relies heavily on their commitment to remain anonymous. Long before the birth of the Internet and the public’s need to feel involved in every aspect of a celebrity’s personal life, A.A. took every possible step to protect the Fellowship as well as its members.
For a newcomer simply thinking about attending their first A.A. meeting, the idea of anonymity is not only inviting, but also comforting. Although these days one might argue the stigma surrounding alcoholism isn’t nearly as bad as it once was, the ability to speak openly and freely when you’re feeling ashamed and embarrassed is what draws most people to this specific 12-step program.
In A.A., you are one person sharing a common problem with a community of people who have taken a vow to keep your secret just that, a secret. You have the right as an individual to remain quiet on your personal struggle or to share it with close family and friends as long as you continue to hold your fellow member’s battle in confidence.
This clause of anonymity not only protects the individual but the program as a whole. Although public awareness regarding alcoholism has increased as has the acceptance of a program such as A.A., the Fellowship prefers to hold on to anonymity. Despite the fact that over the years there have been a few mishaps regarding publicity and the negative attention it can bring to the Fellowship, A.A. continues to keep anonymity at the forefront of its operation. Not only to protect the reputation they’ve built over the years, but those individuals striving to stop drinking and take things one day at a time.