A core principle behind the Twelfth Tradition is placing principles before personalities. Anonymity not only protects individuals from stigma but protects us all from mistakes that might be made by individuals who might carry the DRA name into the limelight of public media where the reputation of DRA could get mixed up with the mistakes and notoriety of the individual. Anonymity is really the spiritual foundation that allows our Fellowship and our program of recovery to work and to survive.
I am so glad that DRA is based on the Steps and Traditions. I am proud of my dual recovery efforts but I want my name and what I say at meetings to stay right there and not go any further. I don't want people gossiping about my latest personal recovery issues. I don't want my picture spread around in some newspaper or web site identifying me as a member of DRA. My job and my lifestyle really depend on this Tradition of Anonymity and like most 12 steppers, I take anonymity very seriously.
I have a very unusual last name. I like to use my full name at closed DRA meetings when I introduce myself. I don't have to, but I like to. At open meetings where anyone can attend, I only use my first name. I feel pretty confident that people in recovery from their two no-fault illnesses--members of Dual Recovery Anonymous, will hold what I say at meetings with respect and confidence, but when non-members can attend I am a little more careful. Some of those people may not understand the importance of anonymity.
This sort of reinforces the Eleventh Tradition where it says we are all equal partners in dual recovery. It don't matter if you are a rock star or president of the local bank. When you come into a meeting you are simply a member in equal standing. Your outside status makes no difference. There are no stars or gurus in DRA.
I think that anonymity at the level of public media also protects the image of the DRA Fellowship as a whole. No one so far as I know has been elected or appointed to be the official spokesperson, poster-boy or poster-girl for DRA. Our image and reputation as a 12 Step self-help organization should never be tied to how well any one person does in recovery.
I was asked to give a presentation about my dual recovery to a large audience of social service professionals and students up at the college. It was being videotaped for possible inclusion in a TV documentary. I had to figure out how to talk about my personal journey of dual recovery without identifying myself as a member of any specific Twelve Step Group. I ended up using only my first name and saying that I had found support for my dual recovery through a dual focus twelve-step group. I did not give the name. I just told them how important it was to have a group of understanding supportive friends there that I could talk to about things like my depression and medications and how I was trying to cope with those issues on a day to day basis in a healthy and constructive way.
It's the message not the messenger that counts in DRA. When I participated in a recovery program on our local cable access channel to tell about DRA, I asked them to block out my facial features. I told them how important DRA was to my personal dual recovery and how to contact the World Network Central Office, but I remained anonymous.