‘Broken’: A Conversation with William Cope Moyers

Here’s a William Cope Moyers interview about his new book.

There’s growing concern about the glut of recovery memoirs coming out. Do these tell-all memoirs with the Oprah and Larry King rounds improve societal understanding and acceptance or do they come off as self-serving and breed more scorn than empathy? What would be the impact of high profile relapses, especially piled on the heap of politicians and celebrities using addiction, treatment and recovery as part of their image rehabilitation.

The 12 & 12 says, “we couldn’t be a secret society, but we couldn’t be a vaudeville circuit, either.” It feels a little like we may be veering toward the latter.

Below are some of his comments on anonymity:

Q: One of the biggest ideas in the book is your closing notion about Alcoholics Anonymous — and the suggestion that public understanding about addiction might be better if alcoholics were a little less anonymous. Could you explain to our readers a little bit about what you mean by that?

A: I stand up and speak up all the time, and I never do it as a person who is enrolled in or a member of a specific recovery group. I always do it as William Cope Moyers, an addict and alcoholic, who got well because I got four treatments. I believe strongly in the principal of anonymity as it relates to who might be standing up and speaking out. But I do believe as advocates, we can stand up and speak out and still protect that sacred tenet of the anonymity of the 12 steps. Because as I say in the book, I’m in the 12 steps. That’s what keeps me sober.

When I stand up and speak out, I never represent AA. I don’t speak for AA. But for me not to have mentioned how I recovered today would have been like a long-distance runner not talking about his program of training. So I break my anonymity of the book. . . . Part of my call is to stand up and put a human face not just on the problem , but also the solution, the solution to recovery. To stay underground only (increases) the stigma, and it’s a stigma that’s allowing people to die.

I couldn’t agree more that there is room in the 12th tradition for people to identify as recovering and engage in advocacy, but he really pushes the limits. He also seems to miss that the 12th tradition is as much about the welfare of the individual as it is about the welfare of the fellowship. From the 12 & 12:

…anonymity is real humility at work. It is an all-pervading spiritual quality which today keynotes A.A. life everywhere. Moved by the spirit of anonymity, we try to give up our natural desires forpersonal distinction as A.A. members both among fellow alcoholics and before the general public. As we lay aside these very human aspirations, we believe that each of us takes part in the weaving of a protective mantle which covers our whole Society and under which we may grow and work in unity.

2 thoughts on “‘Broken’: A Conversation with William Cope Moyers

  1. I beleive anonimity is an intregal part of A.A. tradition and must be honored. I understand this to mean that at an A.A. meeting all that is said is confidential.Sharing one’s path to recovery and stating one is a member of A.A. does not breach anonimity.The more we can educate about the devestation of addition the better we all are. Ignorance breeds fear and prevents growth. Only good can come from one honestly sharing their journey to recovery.

  2. From the short form of the 11th tradition:”we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films” From the long form of the 11th tradition:”Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed or publicly printed.”Pretty air tight. I do believe strongly in advocacy, but I believe 12 step members should do it within the confines of the 12 Traditions. Faces and Voices of Recovery has a good guide called Advocate with Anonymity. Of course, AA doesn’t enforce the traditions and everyone has the right to break their anonymity.

Comments are closed.