Joseph And Kelley-Romano

Chapter 5 Women of Dignity and Grace: The Politics of Respectability in Alcoholics Anonymous

Lori J. Joseph and Stephanie Kelley-Romano

What is the most important takeaway from your chapter? 

Alcoholics Anonymous is an effective and available means to recovery from substance misuse disorder. As such, critique of the traits of the “woman alcoholic” can reveal constructions of gender which function to prevent many women+ from identifying, and potentially benefitting from, the program.  Additionally, we emphasize the importance of inclusivity and expansiveness when selecting narratives of recovery to reach as broad an audience as possible.  

How narratives of recovery contribute to building identification for those seeking help for their addictions. 

If you were making discussion questions for students (advanced undergraduates or early graduate students) to go along with your chapter, what would they be?  

What are the categories of identity that are operationalized by the original text Alcoholics Anonymous 

How does a recovery program, like AA, respect its historical roots (which contribute to successful recovery from addiction) while also becoming more inclusive and diverse? 

In what ways do members of AA (or recovery programs) hold one another accountable to, oftentimes, outdated ideas about who belongs and how they should behave? What are the consequences of this accountability? 

What questions do you feel your chapter leaves un-examined or where would you go with it next? 

Next, we are working on a project that examines the first person narratives of women+ in Alcoholics Anonymous to better understand how they interpret and internalize these stories to use narrative, mutual-aid support groups to recover.  We hope to address the following:  

How have members of non-dominant groups found ways to integrate themselves into the program of AA? 

How could the inclusion of specific narratives be re-conceptualized to be more capacious in the narratives offered?    

How do narratives of recovery build identification for those seeking help for their addictions? 

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