Social networking for people in “recovery” — or the 2nd A in AA stands for what?

From an organizational standpoint, Alcoholics Anonymous has many admirable qualities. First, it doesn’t accept money from anyone but members of AA. Second it has a long and cherished tradition of anonymity.

The principle of anonymity is a basic tenet of our fellowship. Those who are reluctant to seek our help may overcome their fear if they are confident that their anonymity will be respected. In addition, and perhaps less understood, our tradition of anonymity acts as a restraint on our members, reminding us that we are a program of principles, not personalities, and that no individual A.A. member may presume to act as a spokesman or leader of our fellowship. If an A.A member is identified in the media, we ask that you please use first names only (e.g. Bob S. or Alice F.) and that you not use photographs or electronic images in which member’s faces may be recognized.

pillsThese two policies may have something to do with the fact that AA has survived so much longer than other groups which have tried to help alcoholics.

Sadly neither policy is in evidence at the Recovery Media Network’s new social networking site, 12StepSpace.com. There you are free to post a picture & profile of yourself and tell the world of your struggle to recover from alcoholism/gambling/overwork/internet addiction/stuffed animals/men& women who love too much, et al. Once you have added your profile sleep soundly in the knowledge that your effort is putting money in the pockets of the site’s owners & sponsors. The featured sponsor? A drug company hawking its drugs to help you overcome your dependence on drugs. That’s some catch that Catch-22. While it is disgusting, it isn’t novel: Another drug company already started a MySpace page under the guise of helping others.

Mashable pretty much nails everything that’s wrong with this attempt.

While 12stepSpace celebrates things like a user’s Recovery Birthday, and offers a buddy to chat with if you need someone to talk to on an immediate basis, there’s no distinct emphasis on recovery or the 12 step process. Having a dedicated section for online and offline resources, as well as inspirational stories or a physician or clinic finder (that’s not an advertiser) would make the community feel more like a place for sharing stories and finding help, and less like a MySpace clone.

Yeah, but that suggests there’s anything besides cynicism at work here.

(UPDATE: My apologies for attributing cynical motives to the organizers of 12StepSpace. It’s the drug company that’s cynical. Judging by their complaints I’d say the site’s organizers are just amazingly naive.)

9 thoughts on “Social networking for people in “recovery” — or the 2nd A in AA stands for what?

  1. Well said. The idea may be good (as long as traditions are adhered to) but when advertising sponsors come into the picture, the chance for that is gone. Also, bundling “recovery” as one big thing is less than helpful since the singleness of purpose which is vital to “recovery” actually working (one of “us” talking to another) has no chance of really happening when people are confused about exactly what they really are.

  2. Contempt prior to investigation. I rarely read blogs as I am to busy with all I am doing. Look for my new podcast coming soon. First and foremost I would like to point out some of the history of the site. I and I alone started the site over a year ago by myself🙂 I was managing a recovery home for a friend of mine and was living off of next to nothing other then room and board which was covered by this position. Last year I didnt file taxes because of having no income at all while often spending 40 hours a week developing the site. Telling people about it and so on. I took on some partenrs to help the site to sustain itself. We open a recovery t-shirt shop and got some advertisers like other small recovery clothing lines. These people where very difficult to work with as the would threaten to pull advertising when they where not getting there way.

    We also attemtpted to support the site through donations but with a $200 a month sever cost and the largest amount of donations in a single month being 10% of that it soon became obvious this was not the way to go. Finally with the site bleading money right and left and having put over 2000 hours of hard work on the site. With people using the site regularly. We knew that we couldnt keep it open for much longer without help.

    Hythiam was the only company that offered to help us out and place me in charge of the sites. They are very understanding and yielding about the way the site is run. But yes I wondered if other ignorant people may have issue with the fact that they market a type of medication to help people in recovery.

    This has happened many times. Poor uniformed people who stick there head in the sand any time a new idea comes allong because 12 step fellowships alone have such a wonderful track record. I am a member and I love them dearly. They have saved my life and given me 11 years without a drink or drug up to this point. But I am tired of putting my friends in the ground!

    If there medication billed as a compliment to the steps and the fellowships saves a few peoples lives more then without then I say right on! Maybe I should ask my friend Kevin whos funeral I went to this year if he thinks what I am doing is a dance with the devil. After dying from a heroin overdose I dont know if prometa would have helped him or not and niether do you. I know he was in and out of the rooms for over 7 years have over 18 months at one time.

    I can still remember him telling me how cool he thought I was and how much of an inspiration he felt I was. I wish I could have inspired him a little more.

    If you actually joined 12ss which I doubt. You would have seen that I am added to you automatically as your first friend. I understand that this blog is about bashing things and i can relate but the things I want to bash I have investigated completely. Like that goober who commented about the singleness of purpose crap. Not found in the Big Book the loud cry of the mary jane maintence member. This uniformed people would have kick Bill W. and Dr. Bob out of there own fellowship as drug addicts.

    And to talk about the steps or to associate ourselves in any way with the fellowships would be a violation of the traditons. Perhaps like many people in that fellowship he hasnt read them🙂

    This is not an over sight. This was done on purpose we offer a medium for members of the recovery community to do with what they will.

    Thats it… we do not organize chat meetings… we do not tell people what to blog about… and I stay pretty much out of the day to day drama on the site to stay impartial.

    If you want to see how I feel about recovery and where I came up with the idea of the site go to

    http://www.anonymousspace.com and look at the flash movie called somewhere. And if you are not crying by the end of it like I was making it then we know who the true cynic is.

    I still love yah…

    That anonymous person that I gues must remain anonymous or something because we are part of some Skull like secret society.

  3. Another example in how not to do marketing/pr on the interweb. “You are wrong. I am right. Here’s why.”

    Next time, don’t approach it in a confrontational way… try, “You know you have some good points and we considered them as we were developing our product. Here’s why we chose to do what we do.”

    That way you come across as someone who wants to have a conversation and not just win an argument. Of course, that presupposes you actually want to have a conversation. If that supposition is not the case then your post was pitch perfect.

  4. I am appalled at that idea that you think this a marketing gimmick/plan other than the fact that you want to gain traction on your own blog by “shock and awe” tactics like the current administration.

    This is a site that was started by folks in recovery who had had enough of myspace like predatory environments. Thats all that was to it. We couldn’t afford to run the site and sold it with guarantees that the original idea of a free predation free environment shall continue.

    Oh and by the way you win the conversation and no matter what we say shall appease you but this explanation is forthcoming as the blog is an assault on our intentions and the response is meant for others if any to get both sides of the coin.

    Peace.

    Muni

  5. Someone’s riled up. I think CD is right when he questions the intentions of a company that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars and spent most of it towards marketing.

    I believe the intentions were of the 12th-step variety when building the site, but selling the site means exactly that – selling the site. The drug rehab space has gotten extremely competitive and they bought this site because they hope it will make some sort of profit for them. Hythiam is a public company and must act at all times with the best interests of the shareholders above all else. That’s just how it is. Don’t be surprised when more ads show up, and when the company tries to turn this into a profit center.

    Right on, CD. It was nice of you to try to orient the folks towards the way of this world wide interweb.

  6. What’s so insidious about this? Are members being tricked somehow, or forced to participate?

    It seems to me that this drug company is just targeting it’s market, and in doing so maybe offering a service appreciated by its members. I took a look at the site, and this affiliation is not hidden in any way.

    Maybe more social networking between substance abusers can help, isolation and loneliness being great predictors of relapse. Whether 12ss is independent or corporate, it seems to offer a vibrant and valid community for those in recovery.

    my 2 cents!

  7. Interesting discussion, as I just volunteered to create a social network for the Marijuana Anonymous group I joined. It’s very important to us not to have members’ photos or names visible, so I thought Ning would be perfect, but unfortunately I can’t get hold of anyone there to help guide me through the process. Does anyone know of a contact at Ning or whether there is a more suitable platform? I want to avoid many of the mistakes you outline having been made in this earlier effort to create an online space for people in recovery. Any tips would be gratefully received – thank you!

  8. And I don’t mean by my earlier comments to join in the attack on 12StepSpace, but to clarify my position – having a commercial sponsor is completely at odds with the principles of the 12 steps. For whatever justification you made the decision, you should know better. Nothing justifies bending or breaking the 12 traditions – and that’s NOTHING with no qualifications.

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