Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is the term "anonymous" politically correct in terms of addiction?

Here's a CNN article I shared on Facebook about battling and beating addiction: "Risen from the gutter, he whispers hope to Hollywood's junkies". There's a specific quote in the article that stood out to me...
He believes the "anonymous" part of Alcoholics Anonymous is outdated, especially in Hollywood. Rather than protecting an addict's identity, he says, it now implies a stigma.
I found this to be a very interesting statement. I am a huge proponent of fighting the stigma of mental illness and that is exactly what addiction is. Mental illness is now known to be a chronic brain condition typically associated with a chemical imbalance...
The point was embraced recently by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, which updated its definition of "addiction." It is now considered a chronic brain disorder, not simply a behavioral problem.
I mean, really, after ingesting all the toxic alcohol and drugs how could one's brain chemistry not be affected?  Anyway, I digress.

Like I said, I never considered that the terminology of "anonymous" in any of the addiction groups whether it be AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), OEA (Over Eaters Anonymous), etc. would contribute to a stigma, but now the more I think about it I can see how it does. It makes me wonder if these organizations have ever considered this? In this modern age of political correctness should we be using such terms that can be construed as negative still? I wonder how the attendees of such groups might think of this? I guess I'll have to ask one...Maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal for those who have been sober for years but it may be a big deal to stay anonymous for those who are just starting out. What would be other term options that might be used in the place of "anonymous?" I don't have any suggestions myself, but the article just made me start to think that maybe it's time for a change? After all AA has been around since 1935...maybe it is time for an update? We're in a different time and place nearly 80 years later. What do you think?

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