We are recovering alcoholics!
Updated: Oct 21
“You'll stop caring what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” David Foster Wallace
We hide behind a veil of secrecy as, all along, we lay ourselves out to be seen. We want our story to be heard for the cause of hope but naturally fear that hurt will ultimately trump healing. Self-preservation in a world that is quick to judge and swift to cancel becomes more challenging as the speed of information distribution grows exponentially.
When we look at society today and reflect on our generational experience, we see that labels are rapidly attached to individuals with little knowledge of the entire circumference of that person or the detail that completes their picture. Race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and social labels such as popular, good-looking, successful, bright, talented, wealthy, stylish, famous, and connected become the tag defining us based on a quick analysis and with little investigation of fact. Each of these quick tags has a chunk of definition, a connotation behind them that is sometimes negative and sometimes positive.
The earliest references to alcohol being invented date back some 7000 years. According to Baldwin Research, the label of “alcoholic” has roots “As early as 1790 when the accepted definition for the word "alcoholic" was "of or pertaining to alcohol. " It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the word alcoholic was connected to drunkenness, and by 1910, it came to mean "A habitually drunk.” But these meanings never gained any wide acceptance until the formation of the Alcoholic Squad (of the Oxford Group) in 1935 in Akron, Ohio.
Page 44 of the AA Big Book states: “If, when you honestly want to, you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic.”
We qualified as habitual drunks. We connected to drunkenness. We disrupted our social circles and abused the drink to the detriment and embarrassment of ourselves and those who shared our sphere (usually those who also shared our last name). We drank past responsibility into recklessness. We endangered and abused ourselves and others physically, mentally, and spiritually. Our lives became unmanageable. We honestly wanted to stop the cycle of harm. We desired control but found none. For these reasons, we accept the label “alcoholic”.
The Implication and the stigma associated with the word are both accurate and concerning at the same time. For the alcoholic, admission is the foundation of rescue – the ultimate place of strength. For society, it often signifies a character flaw – a distinct sign of weakness. For those attempting correction, this first step is a must. It begins a new journey, not a place to park. Culture considers this acknowledgment a failure, while the success that results from post-admission is attainable and phenomenal for those who embrace a proven treatment of recovery.
You see, we must identify as an “alcoholic” while presenting as “in recovery” as those in remission from a cancer incident are, through treatment, regaining health. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. Some doctors may say they are cured if one remains in complete remission for five years or more. For those in alcoholic recovery, signs and symptoms diminish through treatment, though they are never cured, as we have learned that the ism is always active and that only constant treatment keeps “the disease” at bay.
So where does that leave us - as we have knowledge and possess a temporary cure for a disease that humanity calls character weakness? If we stand up and scream, will we not ourselves be judged? Do we sit quietly with the secret of success? Do we stay behind the veil? Do we allow a label to define us as disastrous instead of valuable?
We have found the responsibility to spread the word of hope to the hurting. We will take the risk that we will be incorrectly evaluated. To know us, to truly know us, will show that our sobriety will speak loudly. This responsibility exceeds our desire for anonymity. The next guy/gal deserves to hear the truth – that there is a solution to the drink problem. We understand the stigma and the disruption that may cause us personally, but the human cost of the disease is too large and widely spread. Character must replace the charade of what is the accepted norm.
We are recovering alcoholics. – If you need help, reach out: email@example.com
“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.” David Foster Wallace
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast #134 A Look at Anonymity - with Seamus McTier the episode dropped on 10/18/2023 Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.