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Should We Call Ourselves Addicts or Alcoholics Forever? NO? YES? If so....WHY?


Should We Call Ourselves Addicts or Alcoholics Forever? NO? YES? If so....WHY?

Old 01-09-2010, 10:18 PM
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Should We Call Ourselves Addicts or Alcoholics Forever? NO? YES? If so....WHY?

No matter if you are an addict, an alcoholic or you havent used in years, they say you are always an "addict" or "alcoholic". Here is my problem with this.....

Should we REALLY give ourselves this label and give the addiction this extra power to overcome us?

As some of you know, I am working on quitting my C addiction. I am working on it to the letter with every possible angle covered. One important angle is HOW I SEE MYSELF AFTER MY LAST USE OF THE DRUG! I believe HOW we see things in life is VERY important.


Once I quit, do I....

A. Look at the drug like it has NO power and turn my back on it (yet still respecting its power to a degree). This way should let me percieve the drug as something LESS powerful and very beatable. I believe PERCEPTION is everything. If I see this drug as SMALL, I will believe the same. When I boxed, if a person was hurt and I suddenly them as weak and not a threat, my confidence would skyrocket and I would see them as easily beatable. If I considered all my opponents supermen, I would be afraid to throw many punches and fear would paralize me to the point of submission (or in this case, RELAPSE).


Now here is the other side of the coin...

B. Do I consider myself a life long addict that is powerless to this drug and attend meetings? This may give the addiction and drug a power level that I feel is NOT beatable BUT the positive side of this is I will respect the power is DID have over me knowing how hard it kept me down and how much it damaged me so I am ALWAYS aware that I MUST resist.

Fear CAN be a good thing in some cases BUT Fear can protect us or IMMOBILIZE us.

Is Fear good Here? Should our addiction be the monster we "think" is under our bed or is the monster REALLY there in this situation? Should we stay up up all night terrified or should we KNOW that there is no such thing as monsters and find peace with that belief?

Should we give the Drugs and Alcohol immense (power / respect / fear) by saying we are forever addicts and alcoholics?


See them as Powerless so you CAN walk away easier.

All too often we give in when we feel we are up against un beatable odds. When we see a problem as fading, we race in and beat it. Should this apply here?

Thank you! Rob
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Old 01-09-2010, 10:34 PM
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same planet...different world
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thing that came to mind while reading your post was -

Would you turn your back on a rattlesnake across the room?

I mean, if it's far enough away not to be able to strike you,
would you turn your back on it and put it out of your mind?
It's still in the same room
and in no cage ...

ok I have to say - I think that's a GOOD metaphor.
or allagory.. I get htose mixed up.

Second thing that came to mind is-

as an example:

I didn't begin 'drinking' until I was 42 years old.
Two three times per year ... tops for the most of my life.

But -
when examined, my behavior, my personality....
is a 'classic' alcoholic personality.

you can see the potentiality in children
when you learn what to watch for.
It doesn't mean they're going to be what we are
but the traits are there.

All or nothing extreme everything
sensitive, artistic, moody, gregarious ...
too much not enough...

So, it's easy to say without a lot of introspection
that I have been an alcoholic
all my life...
even tho I didn't drink like the stereotype demands
until four decads in.

It's a personality, long before it becomes a substance.

When I'm drinking ... I'm just another drunk.
Right out of the Big Book...

fold staple and dig a hole
because I've only got the one destiny.

But I'm an alcoholic... in recovery.

That means my potentiality ... is unlimited.
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:19 PM
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Exclamation An Alcoholic for life.......??????


I guess I haven't questioned myself enough to even think I would have a label for the rest of my life. Everyone I knew, even my garbage man, knew I had a drinking problem before I went for help. I was predispositioned before I ever had my first drink but didn't know what it meant at the time I first heard that (word).

I have been sober for 21 years with the help of my doc, AA, & Mental Health Counseling for my Chemical Depression. I have a good life and am happy as I meet each morning. I sobered up several times but no longer than a year before I picked up that first drink.

This time I sobered up for "ME" and wanted to stay and be sober more than anything else in my life at that time. I did what was suggested and just kept coming back and coming back while using the Serenity Prayer to help guide me each day. I still use the Serenity Prayer daily or more often if needed to help me through hard times.

I am retired and so is my husband. We have five children all living their lives as they so choose. My youngest son is an example of the predisposition and how it affected his life. After four years in the Navy he came home with a big drinking problem that continued on and on....we would talk hours about his issues and what he needed to do and he did it...in-patient alcohol and mental health treatment several times but it didn't work....he is 40 years old and is a quadriplegic living in an Adult Assisted Living Home when he is not back in the VA Hospital for medical care. He tried suicide but failed.
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:24 PM
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Attitude of Gratitude
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Even though I have 4 & 1/2 years in Recovery, I know I will always be an addict and alcoholic for the simple fact that if I pick up again, I will wake up the beast of addiction.

In the past, I had a couple of years clean time, but I hadn't worked on myself - the issues that lead me to pick up in the first place and the reasons I continued to use. I took some pain pills "just this one time," and within hours, the demon reared it's ugly head. It was on. Within a few days, I was right back where I was before I stopped using. To be honest, I was worse because I had so much guilt and shame for throwing 2 years away.

I know that I cannot ever pick up a drink, ever. I have chronic medical conditions that cause pain on a daily basis. I've learned to deal with the pain in other ways than using opiates. I will more than likely be having major surgery on my spine, but I know that if the pain is severe enough that I need to take opiates for pain relief, I will have to be closely monitored and only take them for a very short time. My doctors are all aware of my addiction and work with me to find other ways/medications to help control the pain I have daily.

I will always have the disease of addiction, it's my choice whether I feed it or not. I am proud to say that I'm a Recovering Addict and Alcoholic for the simple fact that it controlled my life for 32 years. Now, I control my life!

God Bless,
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:59 AM
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Forward we go...side by side-Rest In Peace
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Welcome to SR...

The only time I identify myself as an alcoholic
in AA recovery is when I share on here
or at an AA meeting.

It became a non issue for me long ago.
Hope you will find your way into serenity ...
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Old 01-10-2010, 03:22 AM
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Thriving sober since 12/18/08
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I struggled with this too.. the forever alcoholic/addict thing.

I don't label myself really. I know I drank way too much, and needed to stop.. so I did. now I'm a non-drinker. I don't need to label myself to know how easily it would be for me to slide into again. I guess I was 'addicted' to cocaine too, for like a year.. and quit doing that about 10 years ago. I don't consider myself a cocaine addict now.. but of course I'd never use it again.

I know I'm one drink away from the hell I was living 13 months ago. I know better than to claim any sort of 'power' over that risk.. so I don't risk it. I will never feel so far away from that last drink to ever think I have all the power. Does that mean I label myself something forever. eh.. it's not helpful to me. I'm a non drinker, and I don't use drugs.. I'm just me!
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:30 AM
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I will always be an alcoholic/addict. Just like someone who has blue eyes will always have blue eyes!!

This doesn't bother me at all, I guess it shows how I have progressed on my journey to this point. When I first went into AA I didn't refer to myself as an alclholic... guess what I drank again!

Like CarolD I only refer to myself as an alclholic at AA meetings/shares and here on SR.

However knowing with absolute certainty that I am an alcoholic is the most powerfull defense I have against that first drink!! I use my acceptance to remind me that I am not like the many who are out in the citycentre on Friday/Saturday "enjoying" themselves and all smiley and happy. They won't wake up not remembering a single thing and reaching straight for the next can of superstrength Lager!!!

I have healthy respect for my alcoholism and alcohol... I will always be an alcoholic/addict untill the day I die... Just like I would have always been a drunk untill the day I died!!

I am proud to be a recovering alcoholic but I was deeply ashamed to be a drunk and total utter mess.

peace xxx
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:43 AM
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l try to see myself was a man with a bit of a past and a lot of experience and someone who has made a few mistakes.
But who hasn't ?

"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes. "
Oscar Wilde
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:00 AM
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I pick A.
When I was five I was considered a crybaby and I may have even seen myself as a crybaby.
In my teens I was a speed freak and may have even considered myself a speed freak.
In my twenties I was considered an unscrupulous salesman and may have even considered myself one.
Etc., Etc., Etc.
What we once were or did has nothing to do with what we now are or do in my opinion.
Live life.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:26 AM
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this is such a good question; i've had the same struggle myself. this is one of my things about a.a. although i like some of the things about a.a. (people really know what you're going through; great support), one of the things that bugged me is that i had to see myself as someone who would always be defined by my addiction to alcohol. when i reached a point where i felt that one or two meetings a week sufficed for me, it felt like i was being given the third degree (although i know the intentions were good) because i wasn't going more. i will go to an a.a. meeting now, but i'm trying not to feel like i have to do it the way they say, or define my whole being by my inability to drink alcohol. i'm not sure how to approach it, really. i just know that if i continue down the path i had been going, i will die from it. it will be slow and quiet and lonely, and awful. but i don't want to define my life as an addict.
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:00 AM
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Life is Grand
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I consider myself in recovery, and that is what I tell people when the need arises, like Carol, it became a non-issue long ago

While I am in no way ashamed to be an Alcoholic (it is as much a part of who I am as my red hair) and I have no problems discussing it with anyone, I don't feel the need to advertise it. I don't think there are rules and regulations as to what we need to identify ourselves as. Recovery (while very much a group thing) is very personal, what works for one, may not work for another, I think that goes right along with how we identify ourselves to the "outside" world.

Great post!
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:07 AM
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Not all better, getting better
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Rob, I think you should do what works for you. For some it helps remind them to keep the label. For others it helps them "move on" to drop it. It sounds like you are leaning to the latter. If that's truly working for you, stick with it. If not, but open to other options. Take care.
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:15 AM
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Welcome to SR! "thing that came to mind while reading your post was -

Would you turn your back on a rattlesnake across the room?".barb dwyer...

You just about took the words right out of my mouth!..lol..

I can't afford to minimize any substance/thing which could kill me. Drugs and alcohol especially. I have come close to death too many times that way. When I begin to think how the drugs/alcohol are not that powerful and I don't need to admit to myself I am a alcoholic and drug addict it gives me pause: What is at work here? Am I in a place where denial is creeping back into my program through minimizing what I am and how powerful these substances are? When I hear that voice whispering in my ear that phrase "the rest of my life" which it distorts, through irrational fear, into "forever", a concept/perspective that I can't wrap my mind around. Given that line of thought I react with "i can't, won't, would rather die first, f... this" and return to using if, I don't talk to my sponsor, go to a meeting(s), and use the tools of recovery. I guess my first real indicator is how my thinking is changing. If I don't use the tools of recovery my thinking DOES change, it begins to return to old unhealthy ways of processing information/reality/life. When such changes surface I know it's time for a reality check, which usually means call your sponsor (a practice I attempt to follow everyday and causes the afore mentioned when I don't) or connecting with some help. If I minimize the problem I'm in real trouble and that once minimized substance begins to look appealing... need I go on?

All you have to do is remember you don't have to use today. If you have a problem with saying you are an addict/alcoholic for the rest of your life, just say it today..

When we begin to think in terms of "the rest of my life" or "forever" a big red neon sign should be flashing sounding ALERT! your addiction is alive and well, patiently waiting, subtly manipulating, navigating us into that place where we are without defense against...............

There are lot of people here and in the recovery world ready and willing to help....

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Old 01-10-2010, 09:29 AM
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Don't resist, allow
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I always will be.... and I learned that through relapse. Now I accept I always will be an alcoholic and that I can never pick up a drink again, it has come as a relief and for that I am grateful.

Be wary of the addictive mind. It will have you going down many paths - projecting into the future, wondering what if, analysing everything, questioning if you really are an addict etc etc - but all paths lead to the same destination ...relapse.

Keep it simple. Just stay clean today.
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:44 AM
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Eating protein and life.
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You bring up a weathered and aged debate...one that still has no universal answer because the answer is based on the individual.

On the one hand admitting one is an alcoholic can provide relief, empowerment, and self-realization.

On the other hand admitting one is an alcoholic can cause self-fulfilling prophesy, despair, and indecision to quit.

If the label works for you keep it, if it doesn't drop it. Some people define themselves by their label and others take pride in not having one.

I used to debate "sobriety" in all shapes and sizes from caffeine to cocaine...it wasn't until I wised up that I realized I was just stalling and not accepting my alcohol free destiny.

I think the same way with recovery, as I'm a bit of a "cafeteria recovery person" - I take what I like from each program and leave the rest. Some programs I don't leave anything at all, some I choose to have knowledge of and that's it.

That said, call me anything you want just don't call me late for dinner!
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:55 AM
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Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude
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For the most part I think of myself as someone that once had a problem that had them. But I'll identify as an addict if the circumstance warrants.
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:19 AM
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I've been turning this around in my mind all morning, been awake since 5:00.

I am an alcoholic. I will be one for ever, because if I were to drink, I would revert right back to the hell realms I lived in. As far as labeling myself, it's not like I walk around with a big "A" stamped on my forehead, but I know I do need to be continually aware on my alcoholism. Instead of repressing it or ignoring it, I see it for what it is, I'm mindful of it. I can't drink alcohol again. End of story.

As far as alcohol having a "power" over me, I used this technique to take away the power of alcohol.

Last Friday I thought of a beer. I thought of a big pint of coppery ale, with a nice creamy head, nice and cold. Instead of thinking of it as a monster trying to get control over me and into a relapse, I thought of the beer as separate parts. It is water, two molecules of hydrogen, one molecule of oxygen (right?), wheat, hops, barley, yeast, (if you take the yeast out it's not even alcohol) soil, fertilizer, sunlight. Instead of shutting the thought out, I let it in, played it out, examined its componets, and the thought died out on its own.

When I walked through the beer/wine section at the grocery store, I used to give it the finger. "You terrible things, you won't get any power over me!"

But they're not bad in and of themselves. They don't hurt anybody except people like me, who abuse them or use them irresponsibly.

Now, I just walk past it and think "fermented grain/grape drinks."

I'm starting to get into rambling mode, someon's been on the Internet way too long...

Bottom line is, I have to be always aware of my condition, I always to be always mindful of my alcoholism.
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:49 PM
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I just read a quote that I always treasured. "Change the way we look at things and the things we look at change" I feel this applies here. At least for me.
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Zencat View Post
For the most part I think of myself as someone that once had a problem that had them. But I'll identify as an addict if the circumstance warrants.
This is EXACTLY what I have agreed to do myself. Well put.
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Fubarcdn View Post
I pick A.
When I was five I was considered a crybaby and I may have even seen myself as a crybaby.
In my teens I was a speed freak and may have even considered myself a speed freak.
In my twenties I was considered an unscrupulous salesman and may have even considered myself one.
Etc., Etc., Etc.
What we once were or did has nothing to do with what we now are or do in my opinion.
Live life.
well, nothing to do with what are now EXCEPT for the lessons no?

I am for sure living in the same physical body that I was in the last night I drank, and I blacked out, and I was not in control of myself, and I did retched things. and I know of only one way not to let that happen again.

I have also had addictions to people, meth, cigs, coffee, etc etc etc, and this tells me that I have a certain personality prone to "over doing things" if you will, and that I must always remember that, lest my next trip through addiction kill me.

but I like to take nights off. I text my sponsor and tell her I'm not an alcoholic tonight, but I'll be back on board tomorrow. She gets mad. . .
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