In my drinking days, I must have googled “Am I an alcoholic?” so many times.
I didn’t think I actually was an alcoholic, but my drinking was making me feel really bad.
Fast forward to today and an awful lot has changed.
Not only am I ten years sober, but my thoughts on the “alcoholic” label are a whole lot clearer.
If you’re feeling as stuck and confused as I was, I hope today’s blog helps…
What is an alcoholic anyway?
It’s a genuine question. How do you define it? Is it someone who regularly drinks above the recommended guidelines or often has more than they intended to? Or is it someone who feels they have to drink every single day? It’s so hard to define.
Some studies have found that only ten percent of excessive drinkers are officially “alcohol-dependent”. Even if you fill out an online questionnaire about your drinking, it won’t tell you that you’re an alcoholic – it will refer to an alcohol use disorder instead.
Alcohol vs other drugs
We don’t obsess about labels when it comes to other substances. Smokers never wonder if they are nicotine-oholics or whether they have a disease. They’re never going to question why they can’t just “control” their intake of cigarettes or why they can’t smoke “responsibly”.
The difference is that we see nicotine as a drug and we understand that if you use an addictive drug, then you’re probably going to get addicted to it. It’s not seen as a reflection on you, your morals or your inner strength. It’s just what happens.
A controversial opinion
I think the only people who like to use the word alcoholic are those who benefit from labelling others. It suits the alcohol industry to pretend that there’s such a thing as “normal” or “responsible” drinking. Other drinkers benefit from this too. They want to believe that they’re fine, they’re normal, they’re not doing anything wrong… and people who quit are different from them.
No need for labels
As you might have guessed, I don’t call myself an alcoholic – I don’t think I am at all. I think I had a very normal relationship with alcohol, because it’s normal to get addicted to addictive substances, especially when they’re romanticised and glamorized.
Unless the “alcoholic” label empowers you to change, feel free to ditch it. If you quit drinking, all it really means is that you’re a non drinker. You’re alcohol free. A teetotaler. You’re enjoying a hangover-free lifestyle. And that’s it!
Looking to create a sober life you love? Click here to find out more about my Getting Unstuck course.