July 28, 2015
My name is [redacted] and I am an alcoholic/addict. It has taken me 32 years to write that statement with any amount of sincerity. Of course, it has taken me that long to be able to work the program with any amount of sincerity, as well. I was reluctant to even write this post. And I was certainly never going to publicly admit that I am a, well, you know. So what’s changed?
Alcoholism is an insidious disease. Lest you get the idea that alcoholism and addiction do not qualify as a disease, here is Merriam Webster’s definition of the word disease: a condition of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms. Whew, that’s a mouthful! Let me break it down for you, dear Readers.
a condition of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts Well, I am a living animal. And that plant body thing, well, the definition is stating that both animals and plants can have a disease.
that impairs normal functioning I suppose the word ‘normal’ is open to interpretation. However, this is really the part that gave me the most difficulty because by and large, I functioned pretty normally for the past 32 years, at least on the outside, but I’ll get to that later.
and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms. How are these for signs and symptoms: shaking, jittery, clouded mind, physical craving, irritability, and headache.
Looking at the definition and breaking it down like that, certainly gives one pause. Yeah, I guess I really am and alcoholic/addict. However, what I have just described, dear Readers, could easily be an addiction to caffeine. Gosh knows I experience these symptoms if I don’t have my coffee first thing in the morning. But it is also a description of addiction to numerous medications and illicit drugs, and, of course, alcohol. So why the stigma? Why, as a people, do we give aid and comfort to those who have the disease of cancer, but shame those of us who have an addiction? Why do we have telethons to raise money for muscular dystrophy, but insist that we alcoholics ‘just get over it’?
Interesting questions, and I don’t have the answers, at least not all the answers. But I do know this, as long as we see alcoholism and addiction as an imperfection, a slight on our character, we will continue to treat the alcoholic/addict as a pariah, an outcast. Me? I’m not willing to accept that.
I recently spoke to an aunt I hadn’t spoken to in quite a while. She told me she loved reading what I write. She also told me how courageous she thought I was for writing my own experiences so that others could know they are not alone. I’m pretty sure she was talking about the fact that I have written about my bouts with mental illness. But, I’m sure she’d be proud that I wrote about my alcoholism and my addiction, as well.
I’m in remission now…oops! My bad, I mean recovery, I’m in recovery now. But make no mistake, my name is [redacted] and I’m an alcoholic/addict. Peace, ~v.