I have a real issue with the term “Alcoholic”. I have always avoided the term, or rather avoided labeling myself as one. I felt such pride and confidence (and a bit of arrogance if I’m honest) in saying “There is no history of alcoholism in my family anywhere. No one that I know of ever had a problem with addiction to alcohol, so whew!, that means I will never have any problems with it either, as “alcoholism” is primarily genetic, right?” That false premise gave me permission to go about enjoying my booze – whatever form it took on that particular moment. But I was wrong! The whole concept of placing the blame on the addict is very wrong.
Why do we blame the person drinking alcohol for their addiction to alcohol, call them an “Alcoholic”, and point our fingers at them as though they are poor, weak suckers? We classify alcohol-addicted drinkers in a low, less-than-whole category below normal, healthy, strong individuals who are just “drinkers”? Then we cart them off to 12 step programs or rehab centers and expect them to use willpower and shame to recover from their addiction. We tend to harshly judge people that develop an addiction to alcohol, rather than teaching them how insane it is that our culture glorifies this substance, practically shoves it down our throats until we cry for more. Why don’t we instead teach about the profound effects alcohol has on the brain, the liver, essentially every single body system? Why don’t we point out that alcohol is a dangerous and highly addictive substance that needs to be avoided by vulnerable individuals? Alcohol is respected, honored, worshipped in our culture, and those who choose not to take part in drinking alcohol are considered the odd ones, the ones who have a problem. Non drinkers are questioned for their choice to not drink as though there must be something wrong with them, some issue that makes them a level below normal humans. This is so backwards!
Also, why do we call the person who performs the act of drinking alcohol a “drinker” when we all drink many liquids every day? Each of us is a “drinker” of water and many other liquid beverages, none of which contain alcohol, but the term “drinker” always means alcohol is involved. Such an odd society, ours.
When a person regularly imbibes a highly addictive substance (alcohol) to the degree that it becomes an addiction, they become an addict. Even that term carries immense negativity, and I shiver at the notion of being called an “addict”. No one is a born “addict”. Any of us admitting we have a problem with alcohol are just that, humans realizing that partaking in an extremely addictive drug (alcohol is a drug!) is no longer serving us in any beneficial way, and the only solution is to stop drinking alcohol. There is no moderating, I have tried for years to drink just on weekends, or just 3 nights a week, or take a break for awhile and have just one drink per day – it has never lasted for long. Alcohol slowly pulls us back because it is highly addictive to our brains and causes us to crave it even when we know it is causing us harm.
We must stop blaming the human for falling under alcohol’s intoxicating spell, a spell highly prized in our society, the effect of feeling tipsy, buzzed, dizzy. Alcohol is an extremely seductive and full-of-temptation demon. Our culture heavily endorses the fairy tale story of alcohol’s effect on our lives, marketing and selling it as an elixir for romance, for bravery, for social finesse and better sex, for building up our self confidence – I could write pages about how our culture revere’s the substance named booze. We have to start waking up to the fact that it is alcohol that is to blame for our addiction to it, alcohol that causes our downward spirals into anxiety, depression, dysfunction and despair. We must change our culture’s sorely dysfunctional relationship to alcohol, our attachment to the romance and myth of alcohol. It is time we called out the substance by its true name, a drug that is highly addictive, wildly dangerous to consumers vulnerable to its negative effects, a drug that needs to be avoided by those who have fallen under its spell and experienced its negative impact on their lives.
Quitting drinking alcohol has been the hardest thing I have ever done, and it took me decades to realize I had to quit if I wanted to live my best life. I DO want to live my absolute best life. I deserve that. We all do! I feel heartbreak in witnessing fellow humans falling under the spell of booze again and again as it takes them further into the despair of alcohol-induced hell, knowing they are trying so hard to end the relationship but finding themselves pulled back in repeatedly thinking this time will be different, this time they can handle just one. Each time the return to drinking has worse consequences. Each time quitting drinking is more difficult. It becomes progressively harder to end the pattern because the addiction takes hold on a deeper level, physiologically and mentally. We can’t step over the addiction threshold, cross the chasm into sobriety, until we realize and fully accept what alcohol truly is and what it does to us; to our body systems, to our brain. We have to stop romanticizing booze and know we are not missing out on anything (except hangovers and despair) by not drinking it. We need to step forward and acknowledge to ourselves that the world is very bright when we are sober. Life becomes amazing when we realize that without booze we are better, stronger, happier, and free. Letting go of our belief that we need the booze bitch in order to be happy, calm, or better in any way is essential. The Booze Bitch is a slithering snake that wants more than anything to pull us into her den of despair, our personal hell. Sobriety is a beautiful thing. Focusing on the benefits of living without booze and associating booze with the problems she brings us leads to healing. That’s the mental shift that has to take place. When we see the naked truth about alcohol, when we are able to look at a gorgeous glass of wine or a delicious chilled cocktail and say “No way, you f-ing monster, you are not pulling me in! I know better now, and you are not worth it”, we have arrived at our happy place. At that point, when the yearning to drink is no longer pulling us in, that’s when we know we are mastering sobriety.
Cheers to slaying the booze bitch!