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Old 03-15-2016, 05:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Perspectives on the words we use for drinking


Just looking for other members' perspectives on the various ways we refer to drinking again.

We frequently see members use expressions such as "I fell off the wagon" or "I had a slip up" or "I stumbled" to describe a drinking experience.

Why don't we just say "I drank"? Is it too embarrassing? Is it trying to avoid taking personal responsibility for one's actions? Falling off the wagon sounds like something happened to you. I drank means you did something.

I'm not throwing rocks. I've probably used similar language myself at some point. Just curious this morning. Maybe I've had too much coffee and I'm overthinking it.

Was wondering if others here have a perspective on the issue. Does the language we use matter? Does it help or hurt one's plan to get sober to describe drinking as something other than drinking?

Thoughts?
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Old 03-15-2016, 05:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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To me, being “on the wagon” implies a transitory condition. So when I hear someone say, “I fell off the wagon”, it comes across as an expected result of a temporary state of being.
Being on the wagon can be termed as ‘taking a sabbatical’ in my mind. When I hear someone saying they fell off the wagon, to me they are acknowledging that it was just a matter of time until it happened.
“Slipped” is another word that makes me cringe.
I agree that by using terms such as these, one shuns personal responsibility for their actions. Or, perhaps it is a way of saying, “It wasn’t my fault.”
Saying, “I drank,” could also be said as, “I chose to drink.” Far too many believe that if they drink, it isn’t a choice. They had no say in the matter. It wasn’t their fault.

- Just something to think about. It may be semantics, but if we eliminate certain words or expressions from our vocabulary, it may also eliminate a few excuses.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Euphemism? Makes it seem less severe.
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I might use terms like fall off the wagon if I was concerned about upsetting someone but in general I agree, best call a spade a spade.

I notice that health care professionals no longer use the term alcoholic any more, it's "alcohol issues" thesedays. They must think everyone is squeamish
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I know I've used those phrases in the past but don't think I've done so in quite a while.

I just went back and looked at my re-introduction post from a couple of days ago and this time I just put it bluntly, "I decided to take that first drink." Simple and honest to myself and to others and it put the responsibility for my drinking exactly where it belongs--on me.

Our words do matter especially when it comes to being honest with ourselves.
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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"I went back out and I need to hit a meeting." I'm in my 60's and these were said in the 80's when I was sober and are still around today at meetings I attend. I was sober 17 years and relapsed.
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My personal view on this is that there are only 2 possibilities.

1. I drink
2. I don't drink.

No semantics can change those possibilities.
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Euphanism for sure, but if that's what someone is comfortable with then I'm not so sure it matters, as long as they're trying to get sober?
I could be wrong, but I think sometimes that's all that someone can bring themselves to say.
I think both approaches are good, some of us are kinda coddlers ( me) and others are more direct.
We need both types on here I think.

When people are blunt or rough with me I withdraw, but some people need that.
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I think the way we talk to ourselves matters very much. I say that "I used" when referring to that episode at 3 months when I tried to get drunk. I am also careful not to say "I quit drinking ". "I started recovery" or "I let it go" or "I escaped " seem more accurate.
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Old 03-15-2016, 12:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by silentrun View Post
I think the way we talk to ourselves matters very much. I say that "I used" when referring to that episode at 3 months when I tried to get drunk. I am also careful not to say "I quit drinking ". "I started recovery" or "I let it go" or "I escaped " seem more accurate.
Oh I like that!
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Old 03-15-2016, 01:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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to be honest I think it takes a heck of a lot for anyone to come back & admitted they either drank or slipped for me the words isn't the important bit its the acknowledgement

I would love if every alcoholic on the planet never drank again but I have no control over the actions over others I can try & help if they ask for help & that's why acknowledgement is so important because if said alcoholic doesn't acknowledge it then it becomes a full blown relapse and I wish that on no one not even my worst enemy
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Old 03-15-2016, 01:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm just glad people come back and try again. Anytime a drunk doesn't drink is amazing to me.
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Old 03-15-2016, 01:47 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I agree completely with you, Nonsensical, that the way we choose to view an issue affects our outlook and therefore our behaviour. What people say to others around this topic is much less important than what they say to themselves.

This is tricky stuff here, this sobriety business, residing in the mind as it does. I think it is wise to take every opportunity to frame the situation in a way that leads to success. For me, that was personal responsibility for my actions, and for their outcomes. That pointed me where I needed to go.
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Old 03-15-2016, 04:22 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thought-provoking thread, Nons. Thank you.

It rang a bell. I've saved some of the threads I've started and here's what I wrote when I marked one year of sobriety, noting some of the challenges that arose in my first year (most notably the unexpected death of my dear father when I was not quite 10 months sober):

"Did any of this give rise to thoughts of drinking? Yeah. Some desolate moments.

"For me, it wouldn't have been a slip, an oops or "wounded, therefore entitled." Or a relapse, frankly. It would have been a conscious decision to push the self-destruct button. It still would be; I want a lifetime of sobriety and recovery. "

Those words, 1.5 years later, still help guide my recovery. I'm looking forward to three years later this summer. That's my plan!

Beyond that, what I've learned during the ensuing time, is that a return to drinking -- be it a onetime occurrence or extended period -- doesn't happen in a vacuum. It is the culmination of a process during which rejection of drinking subsides to the point that drinking happens.

I do think that euphemisms *can* be a tool to minimize the fact that drinking occurred, though it doesn't mean that the pain is diminished. I have yet to see posts from relapsers rejoicing a return to drinking (either a single event or a protracted pattern.)

What we can take away from it is a strengthened resolve to understand the early warning signals and develop a plan of action in response so that thoughts don't give way to actions.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:32 PM   #15 (permalink)
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As a matter of fact, this is why I prefer not to say "I am an alcoholic." Having a problem and being that problem are miles apart.

I believe there is immense power in our words, especially any statements that begin with the words, "I am..."
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:08 PM   #16 (permalink)
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This is a great thread. That's something I think I haven't really thought about enough in early recovery. It's true that even if we relapse or whatever you choose to call it, it still has to be a conscious decision to take that drink. Much different from other illnesses that ail us that we don't exactly have a choice in when or how it hits us. That is some great food for thought.

I know for me it doesn't matter what I call it.
I know for myself however I put it out there to the world the fact remains that I chose to take a drink
But I also know that getting some sobriety under my belt to begin with was awfully hard, so I don't try to spend too much time thinking on what I call it as long as I'm being honest with myself about what happened and look at how to change my plans to keep my sobriety on track then that's what I think is most important to me.
I mean if I walked into that tall broad piece of a house which divides rooms or if I took a dippy with Mr smirnoff again I'm sure most would eventually get my drift that I walked into a wall and also had a drink again. So im not lessening the shame by giving it a different name if that means its going to help someone find their way back to sobriefly and notll leaving one foot out the door as a chance to drink again.
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:14 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silentrun View Post
I think the way we talk to ourselves matters very much.
Quote:
Originally Posted by freshstart57 View Post
I agree completely with you, Nonsensical, that the way we choose to view an issue affects our outlook and therefore our behaviour. What people say to others around this topic is much less important than what they say to themselves.
I agree with these two. What we say to ourselves, and how we frame it and see it ourselves is more important than any other language, semantics, or communication we do amongst ourselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottFromWI View Post
My personal view on this is that there are only 2 possibilities.

1. I drink
2. I don't drink.

No semantics can change those possibilities.
Also, what Scott said is the bottom line, I think. We are either drinking or we're not drinking. Boom, there it is.
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:18 PM   #18 (permalink)
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How we say something makes a huge difference to us and the listener /reader.

When I was in a cycle of relapsing, saying "I drank,".." again", coupled with a sense of the hopelessness I was feeling would put me further into I am a depressive failure mindset..
Saying something, like, 'I fell off the wagon', worked for me because it eluded to a softer, only a slight denial of my reality. It gave me the illusion of something that I could get back on.

Everything change for me when I learnt about my AV, I became more accountable to me. Getting and maintaining sobriety is such a learning experience.
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:23 PM   #19 (permalink)
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It matters what it is, not so much what it's called. I think for most people, their choice of words or phrases has no underlying meaning. However, I can see how, on a subconscious level, some may try to *cushion* what they are saying. For me it would be devastating regardless of how I said it.
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:57 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I disagree, feeling that it matters a lot, at least for me. Consider these two sentences:
  1. I can't drink anymore.
  2. I have chosen to not drink anymore.
Now, if someone asks you why you aren't drinking with them, which is going to be better for you? Which gives you a better chance of succeeding?

I know that if I had said, 'I can't drink anymore', I would be pretty likely to say, "Well, maybe just a beer". On the other hand, if I were to say, I have chosen etc., that puts me in control. That is empowering.

I think our words have a great impact.
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