I’ve hacked this up a bit, but it’s so good!
Addiction recovery programs in general, and AA in particular, have become subjects of enormous interest even to people who have never walked the twelve steps. The religious novel is in eclipse, but the recovery memoir has never been more popular.
…The language of recovery seems especially popular with those segments of the population where religion is weakest. Aaron Sorkin, who usually comes across like someone who thinks the plural of “Christian” is “lynch mob,” has been very open in his TV writing and his public statements about how much he esteems twelve-step programs. …The irony is that the aspects of AA that seem to resonate with them are the things they hate about organized religion: the admission of powerlessness, the submission to authority, skepticism about the value of thinking for yourself, the rote repetition of phrases that to an outsider seem vapid, sentimental, or silly.
Sacrifice may be the clearest example of this hypocrisy. These days, if a man says he’s going to give up some activity because he’s worried it’s putting his salvation at risk, people will tell him to follow his bliss and stop being so uptight. … A man who drops his old good-time buddies when he finds God is sanctimonious; a man who drops them when he joins AA is just doing what it takes to stay sober.
…The danger is that the gains made by recovery language will be seized by the other faction with an interest in framing everything as an addiction—psychologists and public-health professionals.
Helen Rittelmeyer, “The Language of Addiction Takes Over”
The whole post is very much worth reading. She discusses the danger of recovery language in the public square, too—think nanny Bloomberg and soda.