The Almost Effect

Helping the nearly alcoholic

"Recovering Alcoholic," Words that Stigmatize or Empower?

Is it stigmatizing or empowering to be in "recovery"? Read More

re: words that stigmatize?

When I hear the words recovering alcoholic or addict... to be honest, I think of someone with their training wheels still on and that their situation is precarious.
On the other hand, it's good to remind yourself that you're never really out of the woods and you should remain vigilant, never complacent. It would be interesting to hear research on whether the labels are harder to bear in the early stages of recovery because of hidden shame or self-loathing that hasn't been able to come to the surface.

Newly recovering alcoholic

Newly recovering alcoholic here. I agree with this article 100%. While I know I'm subjecting myself to stigma by telling people I'm an alcoholic, I feel it's always been better to be upfront and honest with people about my recovery than keeping it hidden from others.
Being open about my recovery has also helped me reaffirm why I gave up alcohol and even opened up dialogue with other people questioning their relationship with alcohol. And while I understand telling people this about me may bring up visuals of me having no willpower or self-control, I feel it's more important to show people that alcoholics take many different forms and anyone could have a problem with substance abuse.

Yes, it is incredibly stigmatizing

A person is stigmatized by identifying as a recovering alcoholic/addict. A person is stigmatized by being in AA/NA. It is a myth that they are not. People will react on the surface to someone who is "recovering" by being all congratulatory and encouraging, but it clouds the way they see these people. I keep my anonymity and see how people really think of those who do not. It often isn't pretty. I see no reason to define myself by ten years of active alcoholism that ended over 20 years ago. That's a sentence people shouldn't be required to bear.

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Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D., is the supervising psychologist at the University of Connecticut Health Center.


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