Fellowship-Wide Services (F.W.S.)

Should We Mention Other Addictions in Meetings?

The Question:
What Tradition may help me interpret, understand or support needing to understand how to integrate sharing how various co-existing issues/addictions affect my recovery as a whole? For example, my drug and alcohol illness and recovery affects my love addiction and sexual anorexia and recovery. I know the Traditions make reference to “outside issues” and our “primary purpose.” When I am honest about the how, what, where and why of my recovery, is it safe to share my thoughts about these other issues? What are your Thoughts on how the Traditions apply here?

The Traditions which come to mind are Tradition 4 “Each group should be autonomous…” and Tradition 5 “Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the sex and love addict who still suffers.” This is a question as to local custom or acceptability of sharing about other addictions within the meeting. In some meetings this is acceptable, but in others it is frowned upon. There are instances when the addictions are so intertwined as to make it difficult to separate the addictive actions of one addiction from those of other addictions. Most likely there is a core addiction which brought about the other addictions’ which were used to numb or medicate feelings. My personal view on this is that when this is the case, other addictions and their relationship to sex and love addictions could be brought out to help others to better understand the interconnection of these various addictions. This certainly is an opportunity to carry the message since others may be struggling with these various issues.
I think the Tradition that addresses this question is endorsing outside issues. I think that it is OK to mention other 12 Step Recovery in one’s own share but it is not appropriate for S.L.A.A. as a whole to endorse or condemn any other entity. Certainly any group can set the rule that other addictions cannot be mentioned, but that cannot be S.L.A.A.’s stance according to Traditions 4 and 10. Personally, I agree that all my addictions are intertwined.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Over the years I have let Tradition 5 guide me more and more. (Tradition 5; Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry the message to the sex and love addict who still suffers.) With that in mind, I consider the newcomer in the room. I want to make sure that what I share carries the message of S.L.A.A. first and foremost. I, like many others, have addictions in many other areas and I may mention them casually in my shares, but I try to keep in mind that if I talk about AA, Al-anon or DA (the list goes on) extensively this just muddies the water for the newcomer or relatively newcomer who is trying to figure out our program. This is not to say that I ignore those other issues. As a wise person once told me, “take the message to the meetings and the mess to your sponsor.” I have sponsors or other program friends in other 12 Step meetings that I can talk to, but when I’m in a meeting of sex and love addicts, I try to stick to the message of sex and love addiction…for myself and for the newcomers.
S.LA.A. is a fellowship that evolved from the principles and traditions of AA. The diversity within the rooms of other fellowships may seem less apparent than what I find in the rooms of S.L.A.A. It makes sense that other 12 step programs are mentioned more in our rooms than, perhaps, other fellowships because of our individual definition of sobriety. I think in order for each one of us to come out of isolation and our aloneness, we need to be able to share our experience, strength and hope from our highest level of integrities. That may mean mentioning recovery in other fellowships and it may mean speaking facts about other fellowships not exactly fitting our needs. One stark difference about our rooms is that members need to feel safe in the same way that our S.L.A.A. text book shares experience, strength and hope of the founder of our program; it seems that discipline used in the book to not be graphic. So I say anything should go as far as members feeling comfortable articulating the tools, programs and techniques they are using to move forward with living a recovered life. But maybe we could suggest that our meeting format encourage members to limit the background/history/graphic information associated with the support they are receiving outside our fellowship. And maybe could suggest that our meeting format articulate not promoting any other enterprises including other 12 Step fellowships since it breaches our Tradition of attraction not promotion.

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