Are People Legally Bound to Confidentiality in Twelve Step Meetings?


There are many pathways of getting and staying sober, and one of them is through twelve step meetings.  Twelve step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous can offer a host of benefits including fellowship and tools to help live a life of honest sobriety.  Thousands of people have relied on the resources offered through these self-help groups and have come to know freedom from their addictions.  

Through twelve step meetings, members are encouraged to complete a list of twelve steps.  Typically, when a person is new to a group, they will find a sponsor, someone who they feel they have a connection with.  A sponsor helps guide you through the steps and you’re able to admit your prior wrongdoings in return for freedom from resentment, guilt, and shame. While the first three steps focus primarily on admitting your powerlessness over your addiction and learning to trust a power greater than yourself, the fourth step encourages you to take a moral inventory.  In step five, you admit to God, yourself, and another human being the exact nature of your wrongs, but what if your wrongs were illegal?  Unfortunately, criminal activity is still considered criminal, whether you were under the influence of drugs and alcohol or not.  

Twelve step meetings are about finding fellowship, but they are also about learning to take responsibility for the things you have done.  Talking with your sponsor about your past, and potentially turning yourself in for heinous crimes may be the only way you can find freedom from guilt and shame you may have about a particular incident.  Everybody in recovery comes with a story; a past experience they swear everyone will shun them for, only to find out half the people in the room did the same thing.  You may be surprised by the camaraderie you encounter.

Twelve step meetings pride themselves on anonymity, and most people coming into the rooms trust the confidentiality of their secrets.  Yet, everyone there is a human being, all different in nature.  Some work the program of recovery better than others, and a few may not respect the rules of the group and ultimately disclose personal information shared in meetings.  It is an unwritten rule of twelve step meetings that what you hear does not get repeated, and the majority of the time, people honor that.  

The answer to recovery is Simple. Our multi-tiered program is designed to help your loved one find success on a new path in life through school, work, and meaningful volunteering. Structured for progress, clients at Simple Recovery transition seamlessly through each phase of their recovery. For information on our full continuum of care options for recovery from addiction and co-occurring mental health, call us today: 888-743-0490