Shattering the Stigma of Alcoholism
The illness of alcoholism is nothing to be ashamed of.
Stigmatizing it is.
It is time to shatter the stigma of alcoholism. It’s time to end speaking in hushed, reluctant tones. The time has come to speak up and out about the illness of alcoholism and that isn’t one to be ashamed of. And to speak up about how a life of recovery is a gift.
I kept my alcoholism under wraps professionally for a very long time. The stigma of alcoholism was alive and well when I was hired in 2010, at just over a year sober. I kept my little secret very well hidden. God forbid, someone should find out. I perpetuated the stigma. When I left this corporate position nine years later, only a handful of people out of the 100 or so in my office knew that I was in recovery. Why? I still didn’t feel comfortable enough to share the information publicly because of the perceived stigma. And, the folks that didn’t know, didn’t need to know.
I’ve just had a thought, and it’s just that, a thought. Talking about alcoholism casually makes some people nervous. Very nervous. They don’t want to talk about it because it invites them to look at their own drinking habits. If they may have a drinking problem, they will get up and leave the conversation. I’ve heard “good for you” right before someone walks away more than once.
It’s Time for THAT Shit to Change
I’ve made it my mission to do MY part to eliminate the stigma of alcoholism. My belief is that if we treated mental illness, addiction and alcoholism like other “normal” health issues, then maybe, just maybe, people would get help before their lives, and others, were ruined. Alcohol is the most abused substance in America. 1 in 8 Americans struggle with an alcohol disorder. My “tribe” of people in recovery is large and growing. According to Webster, a stigma is something that detracts from the character or reputation of a person; a mark of disgrace or reproach. Before it became abundantly clear that I should stop drinking, the disgrace that I felt when I thought of what people would think of me if I did was what kept me drunk.
How do you break the stigma of recovery?
I AM NOT ANONYMOUS
Alcoholism is not a choice
An alcoholic’s body reacts differently to alcohol than the “normal” person. Alcoholism is a complex disease of the brain. This is not a character flaw. I know I didn’t wake up one morning and declare that I wanted to follow in my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and carry on the family tradition of alcoholism.
The Phenomenon of Craving
Years before my drinking evolved into full blown alcoholism, I could never understand why my father couldn’t stop at two drinks. I asked him many times and never got an answer that wasn’t defensive and angry. After I got sober, I learned about the phenomenon of craving. For me it felt like a gnawing in my gut, an itch I couldn’t scratch in my core. The only thing that helped was another sip, and another, and another one after that. It’s kind of like when your starving, and then you eat and feel satisfied. Now imagine if you just ate all that food and you felt hungrier? Replace food with alcohol, and there you go.
The Mental Obsession
An active alcoholic will obsess over their next drink. What will it be, where will it be, WHEN will it be?? All they can think about is getting some relief from that itch they can’t scratch. When they finally give in and have that drink, all of the negative consequences from the day, week or month before disappearing into thin air. And once the mental obsession is taken care of, the physical, phenomenon of craving kicks in. It’s a viscous cycle.
I’m in Recovery and I’m not Ashamed!
If I can inspire one person to consider recovery, then my life’s purpose will be realized. I am just one face of recovery. I think about recovery now, not drinking. Many alcoholics feel shame and guilt for their alleged weaknesses, which cause some to continue hiding their problem and sink deeper into dependence. Please don’t let your pride or guilt and shame stand in your way of asking for help.
Are you ready for recovery?
You will have fun again. You will laugh and party and travel. Your life is not over – it’s just beginning!
Interested to find out if coaching & recovery is right for you?
My name is Nancy McKay and I love to help women discover the gift of recovery. I guide them as they transform their lives, once and for all. Women work with me because of my experience overcoming major life challenges. I found my courage and strength and I guide my clients to discover theirs, too.
If you’re looking for a coach that will inspire, motivate, empower you ~ AND that knows how you feel – we should talk.
Here’s what one of my client’s had to say:
“Nancy provided coaching during a challenging time in my life. She listened and shared insight to help me gain perspective. Working with Nancy was amazing! I will be forever grateful.”
Your Life. Your Choice
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