My Issues with Labels

Let me start by clarifying the definition of an alcoholic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite negative consequences. It is important to understand that alcoholism is not simply a matter of lacking willpower or making poor choices. It is a complex condition that affects the brain and requires attention and treatment.

Now, let's delve into the detrimental effects of identifying oneself as an alcoholic. Personally, as I've embarked on a journey of healing, I have reached a point where I no longer resonate with this label. It feels restrictive and limiting, like a ball and chain that holds me down.

One of the major issues I've encountered with identifying as an alcoholic is the way people treat me. There is an immediate assumption that being an alcoholic tarnishes my character. From judgmental looks to lack of trust, it often feels like I am wearing my flaws on my sleeve and automatically being condemned for them. But why should having the condition of alcoholism define my worth as a person?

Furthermore, the traditional approach to dealing with alcoholism portrays individuals as inherently powerless and in need of groveling for help. The idea of admitting powerlessness before overcoming the illness is deeply ingrained in the recovery process. However, this approach can be incredibly damaging to one's psyche. By breaking down individuals before building them up, we risk further traumatizing and disempowering those who are already struggling.

In the United States, we still operate on puritanical principles that stem from the belief that healers must first break a person before building them back up. This approach mimics a militaristic mindset, focusing on punishment and shame rather than on understanding and compassion. But is this truly beneficial? Is public shaming necessary for someone to overcome their battle with alcoholism?

Moreover, the emphasis on publicly reporting one's length of sobriety can create a culture of comparison and judgment. It becomes a burden to constantly prove oneself to others, reinforcing self-hatred and fueling the cycle of self-destruction that many individuals struggling with addiction already face.

What is truly needed is acceptance, forgiveness, and an understanding that those of us who struggle with alcohol misuse are already carrying a heavy burden. Instead of focusing on breaking people down, we should strive to provide positive and empowering environments where individuals can seek help without being defined solely by their addiction.

In my own healing journey, I have come to realize that identifying as an alcoholic does not define me. It is a part of my past, but it does not dictate my future. I am more than the label society assigns to me. I am on a path of self-discovery and growth, reclaiming my power and forging a healthier, happier life.

I'd like to empower all of you Benched Sinners out there to define yourself. Let us embrace a future that focuses on understanding, compassion, and support. Let us recognize that overcoming alcoholism ior drug abuse s not about breaking people down, but about building them up and empowering them to reclaim their lives.

See you next time, on the Bench. 


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