INTRODUCTIONS – Does the way we introduce ourselves serve to divide rather than unite?

The comments below were given by various members of the Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee and do not represent a group conscience of the entire committee. The opinions expressed here are solely that of the person giving them. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Question: We introduce ourselves in ways that divide rather than unite. [For example, I am a …relationship addict…. a sex and love addict… an anorexic etc.] Doesn’t this violate the traditions, especially Tradition 1 regarding unity?

Regarding the introductions, I see no conflict, since we all have our different manifestations of the disease. In most meetings which I have attended, most of the members introduce themselves with the more general, “I’m a Sex and Love Addict” My personal feeling is that our unity comes from our desire to recover together regardless of which manifestation of the disease we may have. We all have a commonality in our feelings and thought process which render the differences of manifestation irrelevant.

When an individual introduces themselves they are identifying their own sense of primary pattern of addiction, OR their identification with the body of the Fellowship in general. For an individual to say “I am anorexic…” or any other variation is not a threat to unity,  because we already know that our patterns of addiction can vary, and the individual is speaking only about themselves. Any individual can identify themselves, or not, in any way they care to; they are speaking only for  themselves. To say to someone else, “unless you identify yourself as a sex and love addict (in those exact words) you are not really a part of this fellowship”, THAT would be divisive.

Our willingness to stop acting out in our own personal bottom line addictive behavior on a daily basis…This is what I think unites us.  I think this is a Tradition 4 issue. (Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or S.L.A.A. as a whole.)

I think that each group can set its own requirements about who can attend and how they introduce themselves.  Unity comes from acceptance. Divisiveness comes from leaders wanting to put people out of the fellowship as a whole. Unity comes from flexibility. Divisiveness comes from attempting to control. Each group determines for itself who can attend that particular group.

Tradition 2 states that our leaders are servants and that they do not govern.Acceptable styles of introduction are a local group conscience decision, not a leadership decision. Each group makes their own decision about that group’s acceptable styles of introductions.

Because a person is speaking for themselves, I see no problem in “unity” over differences in how we introduce ourselves. We all agree that our bottom lines are individual. Our unity is in our commitment to the 12 Steps of recovery, to a common desire to stop acting out on whatever our own addictive patterns are. It is no threat to unity that my pattern differs from yours, and however I describe my personal addictive pattern, I share with all those in the Fellowship the common desire to stop acting out on whatever it is.  After all, we aren’t saying “we are all (relationship addicts, sex addicts, anorexics, etc), we are saying “I” am an ………addict.

Unity does not actually mean uniformity. The spiritual structure of our program is to allow people to identify themselves as what they are. To require them to introduce themselves in a way they really don’t identify with is problematic. 

What do you think?
The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.