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.)

Beersicles, Mafia wine & other developments in potent potables

Is there any food that’s not improved by adding the words “on a stick”? Once a food has been sticked the only remaining improvement is “deep-fried in batter.” Well, a chef at Rustico’s in DC has gotten beer half-way there. He put a beer in the freezer to get it cold quickly and then forgot about it. The brew froze solid and he ended up eating his booze instead of drinking it. Now the place is sticking a stick in it and selling them. Reports are they are quite popular. You first.

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What with the recent demise of Mr. Soprano and America’s obsession with fictional mobsters, it is not surprising that someone has created a Mob-branded wine. What is surprising is that it is an anti-mafia branded wine.

Campo Libero, which means Free Field, is a lightly sparkling white wine made from Trebbiano grapes , and the brainchild of a teetotal charity worker. Dario Campagna, whose Il Gabbiano (“The Seagull”) association provides jobs for drug addicts and former prisoners, has taken advantage of an Italian law that allows property belonging to convicted gang bosses to be used for “social purposes”.

Campagna has taken to growing the grapes for the wine on land formerly owned by Francesco Schiavone, a boss in the Naples mafia.

“At the beginning, local farmers that we’d asked for advice kept missing appointments,” Mr Campagna explained. “But then we discovered that one of Schiavone’s relatives was living nearby and people were simply scared of having anything to do with us.”

Last year someone cut the wires holding up the vines causing Campagna’s group to lose half their crop.

The vines were replanted. And now 10,000 bottles of vino bianco are waiting to be drunk. “I don’t drink alcohol but those that have tasted Campo Libero say it’s a solid wine,” Mr Campagna said.

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Everyone knows that alcohol can lead to ill-fated romance, now a French vintner is hoping the interweb will remove the ill-fated part of the equation.

The ‘Soif de Coeur’ (A Thirst for Romance) bottles of rosé, red or white wine contain a unique code in their labels that you tap into the website in the hope of finding your perfect match.

Go to the site, type in your age, sex and the sex of the person you would like to meet and the site will link you up with someone who also bought a bottle of the wine and registered on-line. And there’s no risk that you will ever be asked to appear in one of those creepy eHarmony ads.

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Not only can you drink yourself into the gutter, now you can advertise there as well. Quoth the NYT: In the June 15 issue of Wine Spectator, Newton Vineyard purchased a series of ads on a narrow slice of the page that is known picturesquely as “the gutter” — the space, normally blank and white, between the binding and the first column of text. Maybe AA should consider it.

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madonnaMadonna may not have wanter her papa to preach but she doesn’t have any problem with his selling wine with her name on it. Tony Ciccone, recently decided to advance his winery business by releasing Madonna Wine, which is available in five varieties: Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.  The label on each bottle features a colorful picture of Madonna, with whom he consulted beforehand to make sure his daughter approved of the idea. Those of you wondering what wine made in Michigan tastes like can go here to order some.

Fastest growing UK demographic: Women alcoholics

Women drinking at home make up the biggest growth opportunity in the UK’s alcoholic beverages market, according to the latest Datamonitor forecast.

This means a major new source of customers for both the distillers and AA. Speaking of AA, a new study has scientifically proved the efficacy of their method of recovering from the effects of alcoholism:

In a study of more than 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per day cut the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four cups per day reduced the risk by 80 percent. The coffee effect held true for women and men of various ethnic backgrounds.

Researchers offered no indication on whether the quality of the coffee effected the recovery. (A friend told me once that there is no such thing as coffee that is too bad for a member of AA to drink. I’ll take his word for it.)

Ironically being an actual tea-totaller doesn’t help.

The researchers found no reduced risk of cirrhosis for tea drinkers.

Which would, of course, be bad news for AA in the UK.