Labelling Drinking

This is a real biggie in our world.  We use labelling to connect with people but also to distance ourselves.  So I am happy to be a member of the sober blogging community because that has positive connotations for me but am still stuck on the ‘am I an alcoholic?’ question because the label of alcoholic still carries and attracts very negative stigma.

“This is a more severe type of overgeneralization; attributing a person’s actions to their character instead of some accidental attribute. Rather than assuming the behavior to be accidental or extrinsic, the person assigns a label to someone or something that implies the character of that person or thing” (source)

Being unable to control our drinking is seen as a character defect rather than the reflection of an alcoholic substance that we have accidentally become addicted too because of our cultural acceptance and encouragement of us to drink.  For me it suggests that I am a ‘bad’ person and that I have ‘failed’ in some way.   But I am not defined by my ability to drink alcohol or not, this is just a tiny facet of me as a person, and yet I feel shame.

Strategies to manage:

  • Back to checking for evidence.  I am not the only person struggling with this issue and thanks to the sober blogging community I know this.  I could always go to an AA meeting in real life and check it there too.
  • Beware of labels as they usually hide the truth

What other labels need deconstructing and redefining?  Sober and what that means is the first one that springs to my mind.  What else? Chime in below 🙂

14 thoughts on “Labelling Drinking

  1. Surely that old favourite ‘normal’ deserves a mention. Boring, interesting, attractive, ugly…….

  2. Hmm, an interesting discussion. I don’t like the label ‘alcoholic’, because, as your quote suggests, it turns a behaviour (drinking too much) into a character attribute (alcoholic) and all the negative connotations that go with that. But I don’t mind the label of ‘sober person’, yet I have never really stopped to think about what that means until you asked this question.

    1. Yes I agree sober is okay although even that has some unflattering idioms, for example sober as a judge.

  3. Here’s one that wouldn’t necessarily jump to your mind but was considered pejorative in my family; “teetotaler”. I think teetotaler and sober person conjure up different images.

    1. I know!! But in my head that’s what I see. We need to seriously rebrand an alcohol free lifestyle in more positive terms don’t we? I bet a group photo of us lot wouldn’t look anything like that! 😉

      1. OMFG!! That’s hilarious 🙂 God rebranding is an understatement!! 😉

  4. Hi Lucy, thank for this post. I totally agree that it is very hard to label oneself as an alcoholic because of the stigma that has been associated with it, and our own feelings of inadequacy. What really helps me with this is to understand that alcoholism is a disease – In 1992 alcoholism has been recognized as a disease – “Therefore, the committee agreed to define alcoholism as a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial. Each of these symptoms may be continuous or periodic.” – Form JAMA –

    Anyways, I usually say that I am a person in recovery 🙂

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