Day 389: I don’t refer to myself as an alcoholic. I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and used it to medicate my mental health conditions. When my mental health deteriorated I used alcohol more and more. At the point in which I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act I was alcohol dependent according to the doctors and I don’t disagree with that. Not once was the term alcoholic used by the NHS. After leaving hospital and entering community treatment we focused primarily on my mental health to ensure I wasn’t tempted to return to alcohol as a coping mechanism. I started reading, listening to and writing about my relationship with alcohol and my mental health. Once again, the term alcoholic was not used very often. The only time I heard the term alcoholic frequently was when I read about AA or spoke / engaged with somebody who uses AA.
Let me be clear, I have no issue with Alcoholics Anonymous. When I was in hospital I spoke to an alcohol and drugs counsellor who suggested AA meetings when I left hospital. At the time I didn’t really know much about the organisation so I logged onto a few Zoom meetings when I was discharged (bear in mind Covid was still rife so face to face meetings were not massively happening in the area) – To be honest I just didn’t connect with the groups and put a lot of it down to the stage I was in my recovery. I hadn’t made a definitive opinion of AA at that point because I think it would have been unfair to after only logging into a few webinar meetings (one of which had so many technical issues I could hardly make out what was being said!)
As my recovery progressed and I started working very hard on my mental health I found that the abstaining from alcohol was actually much easier than I envisaged. I still had dark days and temptation but never to the point where I put a bottle to my lips. More of passing thoughts which I quickly challenged and dismissed. Something I was very proud of myself for doing.
I began engaging more and more on Twitter with the #RecoveryPosse and building up a network of likeminded people from around the World in recovery and attempting sobriety whether that was for the first time like me or for the 50th time! No judgement. We were all there to talk and support each other with the same goal of letting go of our addictions. I’ve had some great chats with people who use AA or have used AA just as much as I’ve learned more about Smart Recovery, AVRT and Mindfulness. Something I have learned is that no two people have the same recovery path and what works for one person might need alterations or completely the opposite to work for another!
So anyways, I’m over a year into my recovery now and something I say regularly both on this blog and in public is that I was ALCOHOL DEPENDANT and that now I’m living in SOBRIETY from alcohol. I’m in RECOVERY from an event in my life which lead to huge changes. Ending up in hospital was the final part of a slow burning problem over a number of years (which alcohol played a part in but was never the sole problem as I’ve had spells off the booze loads of times in the past and didn’t always turn to it)
So notice I use the words dependant and sober. I don’t use the word alcoholic. I never labelled myself that and nobody in my treatment past or present has.
So why does it offend ‘alcoholics’ that I choose not to use that term? I don’t refer to anybody else as one and have no problem people using it for themselves yet it would seem there is a problem from a minority in recovery who think you are in denial or failing on your recovery journey because you won’t stick that label on yourself.
And when I say it offends alcoholics, that’s not me labelling them – that is people who have told me they are an alcoholic and SO AM I!
They don’t even know me!
I’ve found recovery to be very positive so far and 99% of my interactions have been brilliant. As with anything in society you won’t agree with everybody and that’s fine – but challenging and dismissing somebody’s in such a negative way isn’t healthy.
So no, I won’t be using that term anytime soon whether that fits your agenda or not.