I am delighted with the way the issue of addiction was presented by Bob von Sternberg (“Unmasking the face of addiction,” June 23). With one in eight Americans suffering or recovering from some form of alcohol or drug addiction, along with the alarming costs associated with treatment, I am not surprised by the willingness of some to step out of the shadows to emphasize that maybe something more needs to be done. I feel a certain reassurance that participation in a “recovery community” does not need to compete with the anonymity so coveted by myself and others active in Alcoholics Anonymous and similar fellowships, so long as the focus of this community remains on the alcoholics and addicts who are still suffering. It is important not to dilute the primary purpose of these fellowships with the novelty of public exposure, the desire to increase public awareness and the diffusion of the stigma of addiction. If “rising from the church basement” can better sculpt public policy to the benefit of those still suffering active addictions, I would regard the increase in public awareness and the potential mitigation of the stigmas associated with these diseases as bonuses.
PATRICK G., St. Louis Park
Editor’s note: Because of the nature of the discussion, we are allowing a rare exception to our policy that letters appear with the author’s full name.