Anonymity At The Level Of Press, Radio, And Films

Anonymity At The Level Of Press, Radio, And Films
Ward Meacham member of Narcotics Anonymous

Tradition eleven states that * “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.”

I am watching the second season of Iron Fist the Marvel Comics story on Netflix. In this Netflix version one of the principal characters, a rich guy named Ward Meacham, is a member of the anonymous 12 step program, Narcotics Anonymous.

Woven throughout the story line is Ward’s drug addiction. If you go back to season one you will recall that he enjoyed inhaling drugs. In this season, Ward attends NA meetings, as he is counting days he has a relapse. Not to cast any dispersions here because, of course, relapse is a part of the recovery process. Another scene shows Meacham in bed with his female sponsor. This is wrong on so many levels. While it is not a written policy in Narcotics Anonymous, it is a common practice for sponsorship to be same sex for obvious reasons, SEX. This Netflix TV series depicts NA meetings, they talk about a higher power, the steps, and of making amends.

As I write this I am watching episode 10 of season two and Ward is in front of the room at an NA meeting “qualifying”. As the scene progresses you see Ward and his sponsor talking outside of the meeting, she is telling him to trust his higher power as he moves forward in the recovery process but that she can no longer sponsor him.

Now this TV series is a work of fiction, and there are many movies these days that refer to the anonymous programs, usually AA. Can one say that society has finally begun to embrace the fact that “normal people” can also suffer from addiction? Recently the news headlines were talking about Demi Lovato and here recent relapse. A few years ago it was Charlie Sheen making headlines. When celebrities are shown to be suffering from, and then recovering from addiction in a very public way, the face of addiction changes. It is no longer seen as just street thugs and common crooks or prostitutes that are drug addicts. Society is slow to embrace change, this is often called a cultural lag, but eventually it catches up to real life.

When Narcotics Anonymous gets depicted in a comic book storyline on TV or in the movies that is huge. Millions of people, especially young people, around the world will see this show and hear about Narcotics Anonymous. That is a good thing because in a fictional character is seen a recovering, the operative word being fictional because “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films”

Perhaps it would, however, be even better if the depiction of NA was a little more accurate but I guess the journey of a thousands miles begins with that first step.

NA has been around 65 years. While today it is saving lives in over 173 countries around the world and has been translated into more than 70 languages it was not always so. It was only a few decades ago that in New York City addicts could not congregate to help each other stay clean. If two addicts or more were seen together trying to recover they’d get arrested for “loitering”. Much like women seeking abortions, addicts wanting to stop using had to sneak around and meet in secret to order help each other. For many years America wasted money and resources criminalizing addicts rather than trying to treat them. Without getting into a moral debate here, had those same resources been used for treatment rather than incarceration America would be a very different nation. At least today, 2018, the American Medical Association (AMA)and society as a whole is beginning to see that addiction is a disease and should be treated as such.

The thing that many get confused with this concept is that they think that proponents of drug addiction treatment want to forget the crime element. That is not so, if anyone commits a crime they must pay the penalty of that crime. The addiction issue is separate from the criminal act. But that is for the professionals to sort out. This blog is just about the depiction of NA in the Netflix series, Iron Fist.

*Narcotics Anonymous, “The Twelve Traditions of NA,” ©NAWS, 2009.

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