Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What If There Was No Such Thing As An Alcoholic?

Hey, do you know this guy?  I do, he's the guy I used as my yardstick to gauge whether or not I was an alcoholic.  Okay, maybe not this guy, but I definitely had an image in my head of what I thought an alcoholic looked like.  The blowsy bar fly with smeared red lip stick and blinking reindeer sweater lined up at the VFW potluck on Christmas Day because none of her kids invited her to their houses, her red solo cup of beer and smoldering cigarette waiting for her at the bar.

Yep, that was my vision of an alcoholic.  She gave me great comfort.  I wasn't her. And just as long as I didn't become her, I could happily keep on drinking.  Right?

Nope.  I was miserable.  And I knew the cause.  But as long as I wasn't an alcoholic, I didn't have to quit.

What if there was no such thing as an alcoholic?  What if that word had never been coined?

What would we have to defend our drinking against?  What excuse would we have to keep pursuing so fervently an activity that makes us unhappy?

If we could no longer console ourselves with the fact that we're not alcoholics, what excuse would we have to keep drinking ourselves miserable?

If I hadn't spent all those years assuring myself I wasn't an alcoholic, would I have just quit drinking just because it was making me miserable?

I think maybe it would be a good idea to abolish that word from our vocabulary.  Although I wear it these days as a badge of courage, I'd surrender it if it meant  people would quit using the excuse that they're not one, so they can keep on making themselves miserable.


  1. I agree completely.
    Labels are just words.
    What we need are more People who struggle with alcohol and are willing to talk about it.
    Wine guzzling women of the world united against wine.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I spent a lot of time watching Intervention (with a glass/bottle of wine of course) and telling myself, "At least I'm not like them."

    What a waste of freaking time.


  3. Labels do scare people. I am one of those who never thought about myself as an alcoholic. Even when I had lipstick smeared on my face, slurring words, blacking out, drinking bottles of wine alone at home. I guess labels make me uneasy. Now I look back and wonder who I was really kidding.

  4. My story was littered with "yet's" that is to say, that each time I decided it was a good idea to pick up a drink again, it got much worse. I started going to the rooms in my mid twenties and I heard stories of drinking first thing in the morning, drinking warm cheap vodka from plastic half gallon jugs, etc... None of which at the time could I relate to. as the years went on, nearly all of those things happened. Gratefully I can say I haven't had a drink in a few 24 hours now. Today I'm convinced the ultimate "yet" will be my death, so I use the tools that were given to me on a daily basis. Great piece thanks for writing it!

  5. I so agree with you KM! So many more people would question their lifestyles if they didn't have the bogey man as a comfort blanket! Love SM x