By Josh Koop Senior VP of Business Development for Central Recovery I often take for granted how much private information is shared between people who follow a 12-Step program. When a person starts their recovery journey, they select a sponsor. This sponsor helps guide them through the 12-Steps and acts as a mentor of sorts. They provide a lifeline and support to those new to recovery. A lot of trust is built as these relationships develop. In working through the Steps, members are asked to document many aspects of their lives, both past and present. These details can involve some ugly truths. There are a variety of reasons for this. Many see it as a process to reduce the emotional baggage associated with our pasts. To see our negative behaviors in full color, so we try not to repeat them. As thousands of people in recovery will attest, some of the information shared could be very damaging. People in recovery share their day-to-day lives with a sponsor. The good, the bad, the outrageous. 12-Step recovery encourages honesty and openness. Recovering people are willing to divulge this information because they are confident what they are telling their sponsors is strictly confidential. This informal “contract” between sponsor and sponsee allows the free flow of information to create awareness and—ultimately–change. I have never once stopped to think about how this information could be used against me. I’ve always assumed the information I shared with my sponsor was protected. Look, many of us in recovery have done some terrible things during our active addiction. Others have done some awful things while in recovery. Just because we clean up does not mean we instantly become better people. If I became engulfed in a legal battle, it is scary that the plaintiff’s legal team could subpoena my sponsor for information that might support their case. Just the idea of my sponsor being subjected to depositions and trial testimony sends shivers down my spine. I imagine the recovery community would feel the same. Thankfully the state of Washington has submitted SSB 6498. This bill aims to protect the communication between and sponsor and sponsee. At the present time, the bill unanimously passed the Senate with a 49-0 vote. It is now before the State House. A wonderful thing for the recovering residents of Washington state. Every state in the union should address this issue. It is vital to protect people in recovery to ensure they have a safe place to share their lives. I applaud Washington state in their efforts to continue to find ways to remove barriers for people struggling with addiction. I thank them for being part of the solution for a disease that affects so many in our country.