Traditionally, 12 Step Fellowship members have always taken care to preserve their anonymity at the “public” level: press, radio, television, and films.
In the early days of the original 12 Step Fellowship, Alcoholics Anonymous, when more stigma was attached to the term “alcoholic” than is the case today, this reluctance to be identified – and publicized – was easy to understand.
As the Fellowship of A.A. grew, the positive values of anonymity soon became apparent.
First, we know from experience that many members might hesitate to turn to a 12 Step Fellowship for help if they thought their problem might be discussed publicly, even inadvertently, by others. Newcomers should be able to seek help with complete assurance that their identities will not be disclosed to anyone outside their Fellowship.
Then, too, we believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a humbling spiritual significance for us – that it discourages the drives for personal recognition, power, prestige, or profit that have caused difficulties in some societies. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with people might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition.
While each member of a 12 Step Fellowship is free to make his or her own interpretations of the tradition, no individual is ever recognized as a spokesperson for the Fellowship locally, nationally, or internationally. Each member speaks only for himself or herself.
12 Step Fellowships are indebted to all media for their assistance in strengthening the Tradition of anonymity over the years. From time to time, the National Office of 12 Step Fellowship contacts major media, describing the Tradition and asking for cooperation in its observance.
A 12 Step Fellowship member may, for various reasons, “break anonymity” deliberately at the public level. Since this is a matter of individual choice and conscience, the Fellowship as a whole obviously has no control over such deviations from tradition. It is clear, however, that such individuals do not have the approval of the overwhelming majority of members.
The relevant Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous that have been adapted or adopted by many other 12 Step Fellowships.
10 – Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11 – 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.
12 – Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.