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Old 01-14-2018, 05:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Serious question about AA meetings? anonymity


I live in a medium sized town-100,00p people. Small enough where it is likely to run in to someone you know.

I can not take a chance of getting a reputation of being an alcoholic for professional reasons. I could seriously lose my license or have restrictions placed on me.

My problem has never interferred with my job. But if I am an alcoholic, and this is truly a progressive disease, I am rapidly headed there.

I NEED support. I may sound paranoid but this is a real concern for me. Should I go to a local meeting?
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Old 01-14-2018, 06:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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My husband had this same concern - we live in a bigger city by far, but he has a high profile job as superintendent of the largest county's school system. He didn't start out with AA, but gradually started coming to meetings with me, not in the immediate area of influence and visibility he has, and gradually came to believe that he could go to a meeting anywhere and it was fine. Fine, meaning, he didn't fear being seen or outed- and has ultimately found that the benefits of living in recovery are so many, and include far better professional accomplishments, behavior and reception that even voluntarily mentioning to his bosses he is in recovery was actually a plus.

Anonymity, IMO, varies as people take it more or less seriously. In its intended form, it means that what happens in an AA meeting stays there, to put it succinctly. And everyone who is there has a life outside so anyone else is as likely as I am to think about "what if" non-alcoholics in their work or personal lives "found out." I have found some of the best people I know in the rooms of AA. Atlanta is a big city with a small town feel in many parts of the metro area, and certainly in the area my husband works and the part of town I grew up in - so I also found plenty of people in the rooms whom I already knew and thought very highly of, but didn't know they were also alcoholics like me.

Bottom line? I believe AA is worth it in every way.

My life and sobriety matter infinitely more than what anyone else thinks. Those who are negative or unsupportive have to be dismissed and any opportunities, if they are such, that I might miss out on because I am an alcoholic just aren't ones really meant for me.

Best to you.
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Old 01-14-2018, 06:09 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Though I attended AA for about a year when newly sober, I have far more experience with Al-Anon, its companion program.
My group took confidentiality extremely seriously., to the point of having discussions with church management about it, when church employess were there when we met, which made some group members uncomfortable.
I believe that confidentiality is taken very seriously in AA as well.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm a teacher and had concerns about going along. But then I suppose the nurses, and surgeons and mum's and dad's and therapists and lawyers etc had the same worry at first. I didn't need to worry. Everyone is there for the same reason in a closed meeting. Ie. Everyone wanted to stop drinking.

In an Open meeting people can go if they're alcoholic OR have a general interest in alcoholism and recovery. So some professionals go there in their work capacity to get information , and friends or family members of alcoholic to learn more about what is affecting their loved one. You will never be forced to speak at any meeting. You don't have to sign a register, fill in forms , give your full name etc. You just go in, grab a coffee and take a seat.

You don't have to go to meetings in your home town. I go to the one in my small city (population less than your town) and in the neighbouring towns and city. If I'm on holiday I go along to meetings there. You don't have to go to the meeting where you live at all. Why not just drive out of town at first if you're worried. I imagine that once you're trust has built up you'll be happy to go to your local one.

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Old 01-14-2018, 10:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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i got sober in a town of about 3500 where a small town doctor, prosecuting attorney, plastic surgeon, and sheriff attended meetings.
id rather people know im somewhere getting help then people see me stumbling around drunk OR in a pair of chrome bracelets.

myself and those others also went to meetings in other towns that were 50+ mile round trip.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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the anonymity is generally self-policing - in order to break anonymity, a person has to "out" themselves as an AA member, which generally they're not too keen to do. every person who sees you in a meeting, also gets seen *by* you, so it works both ways.
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:48 AM   #7 (permalink)
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When I got sober, something happened that helped me realise I had NO anonymity to give away in the first place. When I was nine months sober, someone at work started a rumour (an untrue one) that I was arriving at work drunk. This helped me to see:
1) The only person I was kidding was me. What I thought was a secret (my drinking problem) was perfectly obvious to everyone else.
2) If someone wanted to use that against Me, they would. They probably had already...but I was too drunk/in denial to notice
3) If I really wanted to stay sober I had to let go of the fear of what other people thought.

I have never had a problem with anonymity in AA in 8.5 years...despite meeting several other members at work, in my circle of friends, and even just passing acquaintances. Other folls in an AA meeting are there for the same reason as me.

P
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Old 01-14-2018, 12:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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There's good advice here Peaches. Consider calling your local AA office and asking if there is a meeting for professional and law enforcement people in your community. These meetings are for folks who face extra concerns about their attendance becoming known outside of a meeting. Not all communities have these sorts of meetings however. The local AA office should be able to give you information about this.

If there is no such meeting close by, consider asking the local AA office for the name of a professional person who you might be able to speak with privately. That professional person may have other suggestions for you.

I had the same concerns you did when I first went to AA. I discovered that I had severely underestimated the amount of good will I was about to encounter in AA. We got each others back.
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Old 01-14-2018, 01:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Just a side note I thought of when someone above mentioned people not necessarily wanting to announce their membership in AA.

This is a very personal decision and my choice has been full, open disclosure. It was at first a gradual thing and a slightly different conversation with different people, but as I worked in the restaurant industry, it was something I felt comfortable having known - it's a place rife with addiction but absolutely a place one can be sober. At 14 mo I began leading a non-AA/NA recovery group for the restaurant industry, have since joined the Board and in all areas of my life, my RECOVERY is an open story. I certainly don't share all the gory details with anyone (except my sponsor through the steps and beyond) but between just normal talk about my life, my blog which is not explicitly about alcoholism but if you are familiar with recovery and addiction at all you see the theme threaded throughout, and in my promotion and fundraising and everything I do for our group.

This works for me. It is a beautiful thing how my story has unfolded and I can be of clarity and purpose when talking to others - if anyone is helped in some way by knowing that they could talk to me, or by an offhand remark I say that sparks a common topic or....that's more than worth any possible negatives being so public might have.

My husband is completely comfortable with this. My parents aren't so much; my mom and my parents as a couple are still very private about my mom's alcoholism, even with me. I respect their choices and they (mostly) respect mine.

The important thing for all of us is finding the help we need!
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Old 01-15-2018, 02:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I hope you go and get involved in the program! Tell everyone your name is Peaches if you’d like.. don’t let the fear of something that hasn’t even happend keep you from why we attend meetings in the first place, to get sober, stay sober and help others stay sober!!
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Old 01-16-2018, 03:22 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I know there are some in the US military who prefer to attend AA meetings away from the military base. But for myself and others I know anonymity hasn't been an issue. If my boss or someone I worked were to walk into a meeting and I was there I would simply say hi.

In my first few years of sobriety I felt a bit worried. Once a co-worker surprised me at a meeting but he never said anything to others at work. He also didn't stick around very long. I only saw him twice.
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:52 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Peaches6138 View Post
I live in a medium sized town-100,00p people. Small enough where it is likely to run in to someone you know.

I can not take a chance of getting a reputation of being an alcoholic for professional reasons. I could seriously lose my license or have restrictions placed on me.

My problem has never interferred with my job. But if I am an alcoholic, and this is truly a progressive disease, I am rapidly headed there.

I NEED support. I may sound paranoid but this is a real concern for me. Should I go to a local meeting?


We're very happy you're here with us, Peaches.

My ability to get and stay sober has been more important to me than preserving what little anonymity I thought I had.

I own a piece of any meeting I choose to attend as much as any other attendees.

To get sober, I had to become willing to go to any lengths.

Even if that means sometimes being uncomfortable about what that may require.

If the question comes down to forfeiting your anonymity as a result of your stature and the size of your town vs. dying an alcoholic death, the answer seems easy to me.

Keep us posted - we're certainly glad you're here.
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Old 01-18-2018, 05:27 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Thank you all so much for the answers and support. There is a closed women's meeting today and I plan on going. I'm nervous but so excited. Hoping to make some connections and learn a lot!
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Old 01-18-2018, 05:28 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:51 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Thank you all so much for the answers and support. There is a closed women's meeting today and I plan on going. I'm nervous but so excited. Hoping to make some connections and learn a lot!
That's great. Hope it goes well. (Take tissues just in case,like a lot of people - me included, you have a few years at your first meeting or two.)

Let us know how it goes.

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Old 01-18-2018, 11:13 AM   #16 (permalink)
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My life and sobriety matter infinitely more than what anyone else thinks. Those who are negative or unsupportive have to be dismissed and any opportunities, if they are such, that I might miss out on because I am an alcoholic just aren't ones really meant for me.

Nail on the head. Personally, I simply don't care what anyone else thinks. My recovery comes before anything else, because if I don't have that, I will lose everything else. Priorities.
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Old 01-18-2018, 12:41 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I canít speak for anyone else but, I suffer from what if.

I wonder if their is a support group for it


I live in a small town here. Iím glad there were people that I knew at my first meeting. I do understand your concern over anonymity.
When attending closed meetings, people attending all have alcohol problems. Your concern over someone saying they saw you at a meeting blows their anonymity as well.

There were a lot of good replies to your post. Glad you were able to find a closed womenís group to attend.
Hoping youíre going to find comforting support in your meeting
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:14 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Glad you found a meeting to suit your fears.

Fear of being recognized at a meeting kept me from going for a long time, too.

By the time I decided I needed the help, any illusions I had about how effectively I was hiding my drinking were just that - false illusions. I went off to treatment, and when I came back home went to my first meeting excited to get some help with my alcohol abuse. I now go to meetings because I really want to; often they're the bright spot in my day.

I also realized anyone I see at a meeting didn't just walk in because there wasn't anything good playing at the movie theater. They are there for the same reason I am - they have a desire to stop drinking.

When I was in treatment I remember a counselor telling us a good response for anyone who might find out and give us grief over going to rehab, or to AA/NA meetings - "I went there/go because I had a problem and I dealt with it so that I don't have to live like that no more."
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Old 01-18-2018, 10:24 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I don't keep my recovery secret except professionally, and that's going to stop as well. Like August said, the gory details are unnecessary. The more people know, the more accountable I am. I can't hide behind any lies or shady coverups. Yet ANOTHER reason not to drink or use.

I'm not at all ashamed of recovery, and I think I project that attitude to others. Nearly all have been hugely supportive, as many have had their lives touched by someone's addiction, and they know how hard it is.

I had a problem, I dealt with it. End of story.

I hope your meeting goes well. The more comfortable you get in a program, I think the less it will matter who knows.
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Old 01-18-2018, 11:08 PM   #20 (permalink)
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welcome peaches,

I worried about that when I first started attending. Funny story, I went to a closed meeting because I thought the odds were better I wouldn't see anyone. My next door neighbor was there. I was embarrassed and never went back and drank for another year. Then I was really desperate and went to any and all meetings. Now two plus years later, I don't care who sees me. I am so happy and grateful to be sober. And for my job I have to have top secret clearance. I would lose my career, pension, and face possible criminal prosecution if they found out without me self reporting. Needless to say, I was super scared. I self reported got investigated and still have my job and clearance. And I have had a couple co workers ask for help because they trust me to stay anonymous.
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