Who Says?

alcoholHe’s an alcoholic. That’s what he’ll always be. So what if he quit 15 years ago? He’s still a recovering alcoholic. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. That’s what the professionals say, so it must be true. Right?

No. That’s ridiculous. Who says you cannot overcome the things that you battle against? When people use the phrase “recovering alcoholic” or say “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”, it doesn’t help anyone. In my opinion, it hurts them. It’s keeps those people in bondage to their addiction. It is a way of keeping them from reaching true victory. Even worse, it helps to excuse them if they ‘mess up’.

There have been two people in my life that were alcoholics and were able to quit. My stepfather was one of them. I rarely saw him without a beer in his hand. He was always drinking. He and my mother would fight constantly, while my siblings and I hid in our rooms and shielded our ears from the yelling. I really never got to know the man, even after 8 years of living with him.

It wasn’t because I didn’t want to know him. Quite the opposite. I wanted to be close to him. As a young girl, I needed the security that a father provides. Unfortunately, because of his drinking, he was never the father figure I needed him to be. Plus, I saw how he treated my mother, so I kept my distance from him. Never did he and I have a heart to heart conversation, or any real conversation at all for that matter. He was just there. To me, he was just the stepfather who drank all the time and yelled at my mom. All those years of being under the same roof with him, and I never had the chance to know him. I think back then, he didn’t even know himself.

During the latter part of my mother’s marriage to him, he finally agreed to go to AA. It was a short lived experiment and soon he was back to drinking. Sometimes it takes a person hitting rock bottom before they quit. That’s what happened to him. My mother left him and took my siblings and I with her. Most of us never saw him again. He lost everything. Eventually though, he realized that the drinking is what caused him to lose everything in the first place.

Finally he quit. He hasn’t had a drink in over 15 years. He is no longer an alcoholic. He is not a recovering alcoholic either. He’s a recovered alcoholic. I went to visit him a few years ago and it was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. He is a completely different man now. He showed me that some people can and do change. It may take years and it may take drastic measures, but people can change. Moreover, people can overcome their drinking addiction.

Although the professionals like to say “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”, I will never say that about my stepfather. That would be a lie. He has overcome his addiction. He has claimed victory over it. I for one, refuse to take away from that amazing victory, by keeping a label hanging over his head forever.

If you have quit drinking, claim your victory! It’s yours for the taking and you deserve it!

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2 Responses to Who Says?

  1. spcbrass says:

    I quit just a little over 3 years ago myself. I never made it to rock bottom, but I have seen the way drinking does effect others around me. Not only my own, but also with family, friends and countless strangers out on the town on a Friday night. My behavior didn’t fit the label of alcoholism based on societal norms and thankfully I never had to be labeled with the term “alcoholic.”

    I drank only on Friday and Saturday nights, but still it was more than enough to cause harm to myself and others around me. I was young and on top of the world. I was at more social events partying and living it up to the fullest. Suddenly one day after one hell of a great night I decided that I no longer wanted to play this game. I stopped drinking like that.

    These three plus years has been very good to me, probably the best three years of my life honestly. Can it be attributed to quitting my drinking? Certainly some of it can be. As someone who lives life in the moment it is hard to say which decisions I would have made drunk versus sober. Those are all hypothetical questions.

    The biggest flaw in all of this is society and it’s labels. People recover from all kinds of things. Heart attacks, broken legs, poor relationships and even alcoholism. Say a lung cancer survivor smoked 3 packs of cigarettes per day society would view them as a hero, but a recovered alcoholic as a villain. Both made their own choices when they put that poison into their body yet one emerges as the good guy despite poor choices.

    People can and do change, it happens every day all around us. It’s society and humanity in general that really needs a swift kick in the rear end!


    • mewhoami says:

      Congratulations on quitting. It is not something to be overlooked, even for those who drank mostly on the weekends. It is still quite an accomplishment. Our weekend choices can negatively effect our lives just as much as any other. I know this all too well, myself. It’s wonderful that you didn’t have to hit rock bottom to realize that you needed to stop. I liked your comparison of a cancer survivor vs an alcoholic. I’ve never thought of that, but you are absolutely right.


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