Why You Want to Banish the Words “Alcoholic,” “Alcoholism,” and “Relapse” From Your Vocabulary.

It’s no surprise that we become what we expect. For example,if I spend enough time saying, “Hi, I’m Ed and I’m an alcoholic,” and that’s exactly what I’ll become.

Why would I want to do that?

Mostly because it would let me off the hook for my drinking and also give me an excuse to never fix it.

That is, after all, what most people do when they adopt that label. Typically, they actually increase their drinking!

The same goes for “alcoholism,” a handy diagnosis that excuses without correcting. Suddenly a behavior of choice has devolved into a “disease”. Not hard to predict where that will lead either.

“Relapse” is a similarly abused term. It usually gets trotted out when someone has decided that they want to excuse their decision to indulge in a bit of negative attention seeking. If you agree to suspend your disbelief they will have succeeded.

What terms should we use? Let’s look at “alcohol abuse,” “alcohol dependence” – which occurs in less than 15% of people seeking treatment – and “lapse.”

We don’t think there’s any mystery as to why some of us have misused alcohol. For anxiety, boredom, loneliness, and many other conditions, nothing works as well in the short run. Trouble is, alcohol also makes long term – and more satisfactory – solutions impossible.

No, we don’t need convoluted excuses – what we’ve been doing is certainly understandable. But we don’t need to be “powerless” over a “disease” unless we intend to continue to use alcohol and an “alcoholic” focus and want to avoid assuming responsibility for our behavior.

But, that too, is still a choice regardless of what you label it.

What’s your choice? A life of your own? Or a pretend life modeled on a program with a negative success rate?

If identifying with the lowest common denominator isn’t for you, give us a call and let’s discuss positive and empowering options.

While You’re At It, Add “In Recovery” to the Scrap Heap, Too!

Just exactly what does “in recovery” mean? Based on those who apply the label it can pretty well be defined as “unwilling to give up alcohol as the defining focus of my life.”

Maybe “unwilling to get a life”?

Or – “wanting to keep an excuse handy for when I decide to go back to drinking”?

Or “I want to avoid real intimacy with my spouse or family”?


We think you’ve got the picture.

Another question this brings up is: what does it means when treatment programs advertise that “100% of our staff is in recovery!” No, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to identify with you, or you with them.

What it really means is that their staff definitely isn’t going to help you leave alcohol abuse behind – just the opposite.

Let’s get a grip here – people who define themselves as “in recovery” aren’t ever going to recover. They’re people who are hiding from life, not in the process of getting a life.

Bottom line? Being “in recovery” is an excuse. An excuse to drink; an excuse to avoid; an excuse to refuse responsibility for one’s life, and/or all of the opportunities that life offers.

You don’t have to go down that dead end. You are capable of freeing yourself from alcohol abuse and dependence while building, or enhancing, a real life.

Recovered – not recovering. Why choose less when you can have more?

More Thoughts

For a more detailed discussion of common treatment program myths – and why you want to avoid wasting your time, money, and privacy on them – see Alcohol Abuse, Alcoholism, and 12 Step Programs That Can’t Tell the Difference.

Don’t forget to guard your privacy. Residential programs, 12 Step/AA groups, and any program that uses groups instead of individual sessions, or accepts insurance, is going to violate your privacy and your Confidentiality. Click on the link for a bit of reality.


As always, for information or just to talk, one of us answers the phone personally from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Monday – Thursday, unless we are with clients, or from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

If we don’t answer, leave your name and number and one of us will usually be able to get back to you within an hour.

Toll Free From the Lower 48 or Canada: 888-541-6350

In Los Angeles, or from Alaska: 760-580-5758

Or E-Mail us at: MaryEllenandEd@non12step.com