Stigma & Shame
For years I have struggled with mental health and alcohol addiction and the stigma and shame of both.
I wonder how many people like myself stayed away from 12-Step rooms or tried the 12-Step way but just couldn’t admit to themselves they are alcoholic and started drinking again because of the stigma and shame associated with the label of alcoholic?
Perhaps I am the only person who thinks there is a stigma that brings shame associated with the label of alcoholic.
I don’t think so.
Including my adverse reaction to the label alcoholic and admitting I am one, over the years I stayed away from 12-Step rooms for a few other reasons:
- I loved drinking and did not want to stop
- I thought I could stop and control my drinking (on my own)
- I did not want to be the same as my biological alcoholic father
- And the level of betrayal I experienced from a 12-Step member very early on in my original recovery
Mental Health – Easier Label to Accept
Mental health is an easier label to accept because it is more socially accepted.
Some Diagnoses Are More Socially Accepted Than Others
Yet, even within mental health there are diagnoses more socially acceptable than others.
Depression, anxiety and PTSD are more socially acceptable labels than Cluster B Personality Disorders – Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder – BPD – (I have this diagnosis), Histrionic Personality Disorder – HPD – (I have this diagnosis), and everyone’s newest buzz label – Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Well, at least the ball is rolling in making mental health more acceptable! Gotta start somewhere!
Perhaps many think alcoholism falls under the mental health umbrella, as it perhaps technically does as Alcohol Use Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
The description of Alcohol Use Disorder reads very similar to the 12-Step version of an alcoholic.
What talk therapy is missing for any addiction is the spiritual nature of a 12-Step program and 12-Step fellowship. That is a story for another day.
Back to the topic at hand…in my mind alcoholism carries its own level of stigma and shame.
I think many see alcoholism as a choice, of not being able to stop drinking or as a sign of weakness or character defect.
What I have learned this time in 12-Step rooms is that the reason I am alcoholic and another person is not has not yet been explained. Perhaps there may be some science behind it, but I’m not sure what it is.
Whatever the reason, when I take that first drink of alcohol – my body has an immediate physical craving for more and my mind awakens to a mental obsession for it.
One glass of wine is too many for me, and one bottle of wine is NEVER enough.
I find it much easier to talk to people about my Cluster B diagnoses of BPD & HPD than I do about my alcohol addiction.
Mostly how others seem to squirm or shift uncomfortably if I talk about being an alcoholic.
Some squirm or shift uncomfortably when I talk about my mental health diagnoses, but some will be brave and open up about their own mental health struggles.
Not so much about alcohol addiction.
Well, there has been the rare exception, but not so much as the rare exception of mental health.
Perhaps one day it will be as easy to talk about being an alcoholic and managing it as it is to talk about having anxiety or diabetes even, and managing it.
Acceptance and Spirituality
Managing my alcoholism by joining a 12-Step group and accepting I am an alcoholic has the added benefit of a spiritual awakening.
Thereby, filling the God void that was left wanting within me for so many years.
By slowly walking the 12-Step way of life via working the 12-Step program (with a sponsor) and the support of my home group and the fellowship itself, this pathway has started to rekindle my spiritual life that lay dormant for decades.
God, grant me peace of mind because I accept that I cannot change I am an alcoholic.
I do not have to be a drunk alcoholic. *
I can be a sober alcoholic.*
Yes, this does take courage. *
I need a flash of wisdom to see that this is possible, that I can change. *
*adapted from page 18 of AA’s Living Sober.
One Day at a Time
Today, I am 5 months sober.
My journey as a sober alcoholic doesn’t happen in a few weeks or a few months.
It is a multi-layered process… that cannot be rushed.
It is a lifetime journey.
However, life is very busy.
Some days I feel the pressure to do everything in a day and plan my week ahead to squeeze everything recovery in.
But, I just can’t.
I am starting to understand the slogan…. one day at a time.
Plan ahead, yes.
But, to live and be present – one day at a time – yes, says this alcoholic!
Minus the shame and stigma, because the paradox is when I admit I am an alcoholic and stop using my will and let God’s will direct me to do the next right thing… I am at peace.
Blogs About My Struggles With Alcohol
- Mystic Order – Reiki Level IIIA – 21 Day Cleanse – A Miracle Has Happened
- Spiritual Discipline – My Alcohol Addiction – My Story Now
- Personal Development – Cutting the Ties That Bind – Saying Goodbye to Alcohol
- Is Too Much a Choice or Addiction?
- Personal Development – A Wild Woman’s Journey With Drinking and Hedonism While Walking the Spiritual Path
- Personal Development – A Wild Woman’s Slow Transformation Towards Her Best Self
- OYNB – One Year No Beer – This Wild Woman’s Successful Journey of the 28 Day Challenge and Beyond!
- Personal Development – A Wild Woman Walking the Spiritual Path – A Wild Woman Redefined? Absolutely!
- Personal Development – Living Alcohol Free – Musings During Day 78
- Just For Today – I Will Do My Work Honestly
- Just For Today – I Will Do My Work Honestly
- Personal Development – Living An Alcohol Free Life – Year One
- Borderline Personality Disorder & Histrionic Personality Disorder – EMDR and Inner Resources
- Another Layer