Bearing in mind the spiritual aspect of our admission in the First Step of our powerlessness over others, the CoDA Fellowship Service Manual (FSM) offers guidelines for personal, written, and electronic communications for individual members and groups, including those engaging in outreach and fellowship service work. When we reach out in service, especially to those who are not CoDA members, guarding our own and others’ anonymity is especially important. Below are suggested literature resources and FSM excerpts to use as guidelines.
As an aside, many members have asked about the use of social media as a way to connect with one another. The Anonymity and Social Media suggests different ways social media can be used for outreach without putting one’s own or other members’ anonymity at risk.
CoDA Literature Addressing Interpersonal Communications
Electronic and Online Communications
Email communications between CoDA members or groups: “Because email is less expensive and more efficient than Postal Service deliveries, its use is encouraged, provided boundaries are maintained. These boundaries include maintaining appropriate anonymity, [which] requires that we keep our CoDA business within CoDA and that our emails do not go to people outside the Fellowship…[and] that we do not forward any email to a wider audience than the original thread without the author’s express permission.” (FSM, page 44)
Online communications for service work: “Because there are concerns about anonymity and privacy on social networking sites, no CoDA literature or CoDA business should be posted or discussed on any site that is open to everyone. If anyone chooses to discuss CoDA literature or CoDA business on a private recovery site one should limit literature posting to very small excerpts to protect copyrights and use discretion when discussing CoDA business.” (FSM, page 45)
List of Affirmative Communication Actions (FSM, pp.44-45), applicable both inside and outside the Fellowship
- I respect the anonymity of others by not using a member’s last name in the text of a message.
- I obtain permission before faxing or emailing CoDA identified materials to a member.
- I respect the personal integrity, anonymity, and privacy of each member, and I expect and deserve the same.
- I maintain civility and decorum in my communications to members of CoDA, as I practice developing and maintaining healthy relationships. I continue to practice healthy interpersonal behavior in communications via telephone, fax, email, and the Internet.
- When in doubt about the content or intent of a letter, telephone call, email, or other communication, I first request clarification from the author before discussing its content.
- When I participate in a group discussion (in person or by Postal Service, telephone, fax, email or on the internet), I maintain focus on the subject at hand. My attention and focus is a gift I offer other members.
- Recovery is a process; I respect each member for where that member is in recovery. I practice my program by sharing my experience, strength, and hope with others, not by pointing out faults and flaws in others.
- The text of any forwarded message is transmitted verbatim. I do not edit it. (For the purposes of committee work where editing work is in process, I clearly mark a previous, unedited version and include it with my suggested revisions.) Generally, emails are not forwarded to people not addressed by the original sender.
- I encourage others in their recovery, and do not “flame” them. Flaming is a written attack on a person, a person’s opinions, or a person’s point of view, distributed to multiple addresses, usually via email. When my opinions differ from another, I share my experiences with that person, explaining how they are different or similar.
- When sending email to a list of addresses, I send the message to myself and use BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) for the list of intended recipients in order to protect the anonymity of the members.
In the event of a grievance over a breach of communication guidelines, we suggest checking in with your Higher Power and sponsor before exploring mediation. The CoDA Issues Mediation Committee can be consulted after an attempt has been made to resolve the issue on a one-to-one level; through a group conscience at the local, home-group level; Intergroup; and Voting Entity levels (refer to Section 2 of the FSM, “The Disagreement, Mediation and Resolution Process”).
RESOURCES: Please click on the following areas for additional resources and materials, if available:
FEEDBACK & SUBMISSIONS FOR THIS PAGE: The Outreach Resource Guide (ORG) is a work in progress which depends on contributions from you, our fellowship members. Please submit suggestions and materials by going to the Submissions page for further instructions.