Calling myself an ‘alcoholic’ put a name on my discomfort, but ultimately, adopting this label just meant identifying with a symptom of my discomfort. I had to let go of the label and put my attention on the source of the discomfort to find lasting freedom and peace.

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6 thoughts on “Alcoholic

  1. Hi Paul,

    I have a family member who is going through a tough time with alcoholism. Do you have any suggestions regarding how I can be of support? It doesn’t appear that she recognizes the problem, at least she doesn’t admit to it publicly. Last night she showed up drunk at our home and spoke violently to my husband–and my daughter was awake and most likely could hear it. How can I be helpful in this situation?

    1. Hi Lorien, the problem with being caught up in addiction is it can mean a lot of distorted thinking and denial. If you confront her with the consequences of her behavior (e.g. she scared your daughter) when she is sober, she may be better able to see the reality of her situation. Sometimes having this conversation with other family members there as well (i.e. staging an intervention) can further demonstrate the seriousness of the situation and the need for change.

      1. Thank you for this. Synchronously, I have a girlfriend who also has a member of the family who is severely alcoholic. They staged an intervention for him on Christmas Day. She told me that they have had many such interventions over a period of years. Would you say that it’s normal to have to go through multiple interventions before someone responds? I’m just wondering how far our responsibility lies if they aren’t receptive to our help. Is an intervention effective even if it doesn’t appear immediately so? Thanks again for your time and your help.

        1. Hi Lorien, interventions can be enough to get someone to agree to get help, but this is going to be a negative motivation (i.e. fear of consequences). The negative reason can be a great initial motivator but eventually, the person usually needs to replace this with a positive reason for being sober (e.g. my life is better). An intervention can get someone to agree to help, but it is then up to the person to get the most from this opportunity. All you can do for a loved one caught up in addiction is point out the consequences of the behavior, set limits on the behavior (e.g. if you keep on drinking/drugging, I won’t be able to be around you any more), and possibly suggest a solution. If this doesn’t work, there probably isn’t much you can do right now – ultimately, it is always up to ourselves to want to change.

  2. Hi Paul,

    The label alcoholic may be useful for a period of time, in the sense that a bus driver is a bus driver for a while. I agree that eventually the label can in itself be a trap. It can encourage laziness and justification and even build the prison walls higher. The cult of personality throws its net far and wide! These ideas are often seen as heresy, especially to an AA group, but I see the universe being big enough for the ideas to co-exist.

    Thank you for bringing some open-mindedness to an often closed forum.

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