Sunday, January 20, 2013

Struggling with the "A" Word

***Submitted by Steph K. 

A note from the co-moderators: our policy is to post submissions chronologically, unless we get one from someone who is struggling with active drinking or new sobriety and needs to get support/feedback right away. If you have a submission in, it will be posted in the order it was received unless this exception applies.

I don’t like to use the term alcoholic to describe myself because it has such negative connotations with the general public.

Or…maybe its denial.

However, I fit the description to a tee. Today is another late night/early am filled with remorse, guilt, and shame, all by-products of alcoholism.

I have been to AA – had continuous sobriety for 7 or 8 months at most. I do not count the 9 months I was sober during pregnancy. I wouldn’t allow myself to harm my unborn child. Now that he is out of my body, do I think its okay to expose him to the type of drinking that scars people for a lifetime? 

I know firsthand this typing of scarring, being that my own father is an alcoholic. It is absolutely not okay with me. 

My precious son is only 9 months old. Ironically, today is January 18th and he was born on ApriI 18th

Maybe today can be my new sobriety date – one that finally sticks.

Not saying I want to go to a rehab, but they won’t take me (covered by insurance) anyway. I haven’t been drinking steadily for days on end. I am a binge drinker. Apparently, a 3 day bender doesn’t count?\

I thought about posting this on my facebook page in an effort to de-stigmatize alcoholism. However, I don’t want to wear the Scarlett Letter A. 

A for Alcoholic. Posting on the Booze Free Brigade is my best attempt.

For those of you who are like me and can go for periods of sobriety but then have hardcore binges – you may not want to call yourself an alcoholic… but… a wise person once told me that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck…guess what…it’s a duck


  1. Hi Steph K, I too struggle with the term alcoholic. I say it in meetings, I believe I am one but I do not believe I need to advertise it to the world every time I choose not to drink.

    I quit smoking cigarettes 16+ years ago and have not ever felt the need to identify as a former smoker or recovering smoker. Smoking was part of my previous lifestyle long ago, just as alcohol was part of my more recent lifestyle. It was my decision about my health and my addiction that gave me the power to quit smoking and to resist that next cigarette.

    With drinking, it took a DWi (2nd in a 7 yr period actually), for me to admit addiction and to finally embrace a healthier lifestyle free of alcohol. It is admitting to being an alcoholic where I feel it appropriate and it serves a purpose- in meetings and amongst my dearest- that gives me the power to resist that next drink. This is what works to keep me sober today and put forth the intention of not polluting myself with alcohol or tobacco ever again.

    One day I may want to tell everyone I come in contact with that I'm an alcoholic, but for now, I see no need. I choose to be healthy, be present, and to remember every moment.

    Hugs in your struggle.

  2. Hi Steph,

    My advice is that you do not need to post or announce your alcoholism to anyone or even think about when/who/how you will tell people. Instead, just go to a meeting, get honest with the people there and be willing to do what they say to get and stay sober. You can be the mom you want to be and your nine month old will grow up with a sober mom. It will be hard but worth it. I promise.

    Sending hope and strength.


  3. You know what really helped me to accept this fact about myself and to share it without shame is reading the actual definition of alcoholism from the book Beyond the Influence by Katherine Ketcham and William F. Asbury:

    Alcoholism is a progressive neurological disease strongly influenced by genetic vulnerability. Inherited or acquired abnormalities in brain chemistry create an altered response to alcohol which in turn causes a wide array of physical, psychological, and behavioral problems. Although environmental and social factors will influence the progression and expression of the disease, they are not in any sense causes of addictive drinking. Alcoholism is caused by biochemical/neurophysiological abnormalities that are passsed down from one generation to the next or, in some cases, acquired through heavy or prolonged drinking.

    That has really helped me to think of alcoholism as a medical condition, no different from diabetes or cancer. It's just a fact about my body, and there are things I have to do to manage my disease, just like any disease. It helps remove the shame, for me.

  4. Thank you so much for your post, very honest. I too managed to stay sober while pregnant but 3 months after I had my baby girl, I picked up again, and 5 months after she was in foster care and my drinking was out off control! I too had a hard time calling myself an alcoholic, after all I lived in a nice house, in a nice town and had a nice job! Unfortunately it took me few more years to get sober and my daughter can remember my last drunk, almost 5 years ago, she is now 9. But I am so grateful to be sober today, my life is completely different. I wish you all the best, the only person you need to be truly honest is with you!

  5. I was a binge drinker as well. I went to rehab. You dont have to be a daily drinker. Binging is very dangerous. Rehab was the very best decision i ever made. My insurance did no pay so i did a promissary note and will pay monthly for years. Its only slightly more than i was spending on alcohol. There are also scholarships at many places. I left my kids to get sober and they were ok. The gifts i received from the intensive treatment are priceless. The gift of a mom in recovery will far outweigh what was taken from them. Good luck and stsy strong.

  6. I too, struggle with the "A" word, I think it has a stigma attached to it. I think it is ironic, that even my family will talk about someone and say that they are an "alcoholic" in not so kinds terms, and they seem to forget that I am sitting right next to them! I don' t tell people that I am an alcoholic nor do I call myself one, it is just too hard for me. We all have our own personal journey, don't feel that you have to use that word, but if your life is more difficult with alcohol, then just take it out of the equation. I haven't had a drink for 3 1/2 years and it these years have truly been the best of my life. Good luck and God bless...