Rules of Disclosure

We have asked our readers for their thoughts or experience with disclosure to one’s spouse about their addiction. Here are some replies we got:

by GYE (See all authors)

GS says: “Not without your sponsor and not before you get to step 9. And - not until you have read everything the Big Book, the '12 and 12', and what the White Book say about disclosures.”


Dan says: “I have been in the rooms for about 8 years. I haven't seen anyone with reasonable recovery who has not disclosed. With that said, there is a way to do it. There should be some sort of guidance from a sponsor, group, and therapist, and lots of prayers!"


MH quotes from the Big Book of AA regarding past sexual improprieties of alcoholics in recovery:

“Whatever the situation, we usually have to do something about it. If we are sure our wife does not know, should we tell her? Not always, we think. If she knows in a general way that we have been wild, should we tell her in detail? Undoubtedly, we should admit our fault. She may insist on knowing all the particulars. She will want to know who the woman is and where she is. We feel we ought to say to her that we have no right to involve another person. We are sorry for what we have done and, God willing, it shall not be repeated. More than that we cannot do; we have no right to go further. Though there may be justifiable exceptions, and though we wish to lay down no rule of any sort, we have often found this the best course to take.”


Moshe shares his story:

“From my experience and what I have learned from others, there are all types of disclosures. There is the disclosure that you are an addict in recovery that usually happens after you have begun to believe that there is a solution. Then, there is the disclosure that helps your partner understand what it means to be suffering from sexual obsession. Then, there is the disclosure of who you really are that had caused you to obsessively lust.

The disclosure that was most helpful for me was after I was 2 years clean in the program. I finally began to see the stuff underneath my addiction (I am a slow learner) that is when I was able to disclose my disease! Acting out is only a symptom of my disease. My real disease is all the stuff that happened to me when I was young that had caused me to become a petrified, traumatized little boy. I became willing to stop pretending that I was ok and start sharing what was really going on with me today, which was a lot of the same feelings I had when I was younger. I shared with my wife that I was scared of being rejected and not being accepted, that I did not connect to anyone, and told myself stories that lust can make me whole again.

I shared with my wife the whole story of what it was like to be Moshe growing up, of all the pain of not being cared for or recognized, and how eventually I came to rely on lust. Then, I gave a detailed account of the lengths that I went to in my quest to feel loved and empowered, and how I felt before and after; only then did she begin to understand my sickness. Then, she realized that my lusting for others was not about her. It actually had nothing to do with her. After this disclosure, she was able to be there for me and also to have expectations of me that were different than just staying clean.

This is just my experience. I know others have different stories.”