Sharing your alcoholism and addiction stories and participating in the sharing sessions at recovery meetings are important components of addiction recovery. Individuals will be naturally concerned over the amount of information that they should share and the confidentiality of the information, and they may be reluctant to participate fully in sharing sessions. Initially, the confidentiality of your information should never be a concern. 12-step group meetings generally take place under the standard that what is said and heard at the meeting will stay at a meeting. If you are uncomfortable with the group, the group’s leaders, the meeting location, or any other aspect of the group’s sharing philosophy, you should find a different group that is more consistent with your personality and your situation. Once you find that group, you can begin to formulate the type and depth of information that you feel comfortable in discussing with that group.
The information that you share can come from your past exposures to drugs or alcohol, or your present experiences in overcoming your alcohol or drug problems. Your fellow group members will hear your stories and experiences with no judgments or prejudices. You might find that many of their stories and problems surpass your own struggles and you will find inspiration in hearing how they were able to bring themselves back from a drug or alcohol-fueled abyss. When you tell your own story, you will likely find more clarity and understanding when you put that story into words and you explore all facets of it.
Upon hearing your story, your fellow group participants will be able to offer encouragement or suggestions for you to continue on your path to sobriety. Alcoholism and drug addiction will have fostered a sense that you are struggling alone. Sharing your experiences with fellow addicts will remove that sense of solo and inner focus and will give you an alternative focal point for your life. If you continue to be reluctant to share, your inner sense of self-preservation can kick in to convince you that you do not have a problem or that your problem is not as bad as the ones that other people are describing. Sharing your story is the best way to get past this knee-jerk denial response.
When you begin to attend recovery group meetings, you will be encouraged to share information that is relevant to the meeting itself. If the group is comprised of recovering alcoholics, your experiences with alcohol will be relevant to the group discussion. If you are suffering from both drug and alcohol addiction, you might be better served if you focus your story on your alcohol problems with that group. Other recovery groups that include drug addicts will be more aptly suited for your experiences with addictive drugs.
Participants in group meetings will generally adhere to their own confidentiality obligations, but a recovering alcoholic or drug addict who relapses may not have the same motivation or inclination to respect that confidentiality. Fortunately, confidentiality problems with addiction recovery groups are rare. If you continue to have concerns over confidentiality, you might consider sharing only general information with the group, and reserving more specific information for discussions with your sponsor or with a sub-group of individuals that you know and trust.
In all cases of alcoholism or drug addiction, telling somebody else about your addiction problems is a critical step in your recovery and long-term sobriety. The staff and counselors at the Lead Recovery Center have extensive experience in working with groups to facilitate an open and sharing environment among group members. Please call us at 1-800-380-0012 for more information on how sharing your story in a group recovery setting can enhance your recovery and help you and other group participants to achieve full sobriety.