Why Do “They” Insist You Label Yourself An “Alcoholic”?

A frequent question we get from clients after they have returned home is that spouses and/or other family members are adamant that they must now publicly label themselves as “alcoholics” and “admit” they are.

Since labeling oneself an alcoholic is about the most destructive thing you can do – and since no one would suggest that ex-smokers or the formerly obese assume demeaning and destructive labels – why are others hell bent on you doing the thing that is most apt to keep you returning to abusive drinking?

Lots of reasons. Some conscious and some unconscious. Let’s look at a few of the more popular reasons:

1. Partly, it is the mythology of AA. Everyone knows that people who go to AA introduce themselves like this: “Hi, I’m Ed and I’m an alcoholic.” The theory is you have to admit your problem in order to solve it. Well, yes, admitting to yourself that you have a problem is probably good, because that lets you find help. But you don’t have to publicly label yourself. The only people that helps are the ones who are urging you to do it.

2. They are angry at you. You have put them through hell with your abusive drinking. Now you are sober and starting to feel great and they are still dealing with their anger at you. So insisting that you publicly label yourself is a way to punish you.

3. They want to keep you in the “one down” position your drinking put you in. This becomes immediately obvious when you know that a primary presenting problem with many of our clients is the inequalities within their personal relationships – especially their marriages.

Yes, they want you sober, but they don’t want your sobriety to change the existing power structure – they don’t want to lose their edge.

Finally, believing you are a “powerless alcoholic” is the #1 predictor of relapse, continued, and/or escalating alcohol abuse. Hence programs based on running you through their endless revolving door of treatment and failure love priming you for yet another round of expensive and doomed “rehab”.

It is tough to stand up to the pressure and the sabotage – but remember, we stand by you in this, support you, and help make it possible for a real intimacy to replace intimacy destroying passivity, passive aggression, and aggression.

Working with us, you’ll not only leave your alcohol problems behind, but you’ll become an assertive adult, capable of ending loneliness and boredom – as well as refusing to be a victim of alcohol, labels, or those who would demand that you diminish yourself.

Isn’t that the change you’re looking for? Then give us a call and let’s get started!

What? No Groups?

We don’t do “groups” and that brings up another of those “everyone knows” situations. Somehow we’ve all been brainwashed into believing that group is the best way to solve your drinking problem.

Let’s think about this logically for a moment. How is sitting around with a bunch of people you have nothing in common with going to help you? Especially since your only actual commonality is abusing alcohol, but none of their reasons, history, or possible solutions, apply to you.

Again, the reason for selling groups is business – not therapeutic! Groups are cheap, and since residential programs know the AA/12-Step model they’re selling doesn’t work for most people, the emphasis is on what’s cheapest.

Residential programs are all based on the same, usually faulty, premises:

  • You’re going to fail;
  • There’s a lot of time to fill;
  • You’re too immature to actually participate in your own recovery;
  • It’s a waste of money to provide services that actually work (CBT, Motivational Interviewing, medical support, family inclusion, and real follow-up);
  • You’ll be back (the real preferred outcome).

The reality is that “group” automatically follows from these core beliefs. Cheap, impersonal, ineffectual or counter productive.

Remember too, groups destroy any vestige of Confidentiality!

A prospective client recently asked about our supposed antipathy towards AA. We have none. Go. Try it. See if you’re one of the 3%-5% it “works” for. If it is, congratulate yourself and don’t look back.

We do harbor some animosity towards those who sell AA, misrepresent what they do, make promises they have neither the ability nor intention to fulfill, and skip over what they are actually doing to you – actually reducing your chances of recovering.

We think you deserve better than that for your time, effort, and money. Don’t you?

Odds and Ends

No, we haven’t forgotten it’s Super Bowl Sunday, or the extremely weird factoid that, for each of the past two years, it’s been the busiest day of the year on our website.

Fed up spouses or??? Go figure….


Want More Information? Try:

Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Sent My Brother Off To Rehab is Mary Ellen’s popular article on what she learned the hard way ten years ago about the treatment industry.

The Real “Steps” to Overcoming Alcohol Abuse – what ‘ll actually work for you and any other competent person.

Help For Couples – alcohol abuse exists withing the context of your relationship and ending it is most apt to happen when you’re both involved – which is why 99% of treatment programs exclude spouses!

Resources For You! for the Goal Setting; Cost/Benefit Analysis; and Weekly Planner Models – all free and available again for the 2010.

Alcohol Abuse, Alcoholism, and 12 Step Programs That Can’t Tell the Difference, don’t care, and will gladly burden you with an inappropriate and damaging label that will haunt you for the rest of your life.

Women and Alcohol – What To Consider In Treatment and why women need and deserve services built around women’s needs, not just another recycled (and failed) men’s program – which is all anyone else has to offer.


And, as usual, whether you need to abstain or cut back, or discover what’s possible for you, we’re here to help.

For information, or just to talk, one of us answers the phone personally from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Pacific Time, unless we are with clients.