Protect the Confidentiality of People Recovering From Addiction

Target: Washington State House Judiciary Committee Chair, Representative Laurie Jinkins

Goal: Protect communications between members of addiction recovery programs and their sponsors.

Addiction is a huge problem that is reaching epidemic levels within the U.S. One of the most successful treatments for addiction is involvement in a fellowship program such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). However, a recent study found that the effectiveness of AA has been decreasing, and this is likely due to a lack of confidentiality rights within the program. Recent legislation has been proposed in Washington state that would protect the confidentiality of communications between members of a recovery program and their sponsors.

A substantial part of the sponsor-sponsee relationship is the creation of a safe space for members to share their struggles. Sponsors act as spiritual guides and mentors within the program, and the freedom to share with them is one of the most important parts of recovery. Unfortunately, because the communications between sponsors and sponsees are not protected by law, many lawyers have used private information from these relationships to attack the character of recovering addicts during lawsuits. It is extremely unjust that people who are trying to recover from a devastating disease feel they cannot speak freely to the person who is acting as their guide and mentor. Some people choose to speak to doctors, some to priests, and some to sponsors. All of these relationships should be protected equally under law as confidential.

Recovering from addiction is a long and difficult road, and it is essential that those who are in recovery are given the support they need. Not allowing them a protected space to discuss and process their personal demons is unjust. Please support those trying to recover from addiction by signing the below petition and demanding that communications between sponsors and sponsees are legally protected as confidential.


Dear Representative Jinkins,

I am writing to request that you and your committee please approve proposed legislation that would protect communications between sponsors and sponsees in addiction fellowship programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Addiction is a huge problem in our country with one in six people struggling with alcohol or drug-related addiction. One of the most successful ways to treat addiction is through participation in a fellowship program such as AA, where individuals can work with a trusted sponsor who mentors them through the program and its steps. Unfortunately, a recent study shows that AA has recently experienced a decrease in effectiveness, primarily due to the lack of protected confidentiality for members.

Programs such as AA rely on sponsor-sponsee relationships in which each individual has a trusted person to confide in. By offering sponsees their mentorship and their support, sponsors are very similar to doctors or priests. Unlike doctors or priests, however, sponsors have no legal protection, and lawyers have capitalized on this fact in order to require them to share their knowledge in court, often to the detriment of their sponsees. As a result, many AA members don’t feel safe enough to confide in their sponsors, which is a key part of recovery. By not protecting the confidentiality of the sponsor-sponsee relationship, we are not offering people in recovery the support they need.

Groups such as AA are doing tremendous work trying to help the millions of people who struggle with addiction. It is essential that the government not undermine these programs by refusing members the confidentiality they need for recovery. Please support recovering addicts and ensure that the sponsor-sponsee relationship is protected as legally confidential.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Anamix

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157 Signatures

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