Own it Like a Vegan, Change the Stigma

Almost every alcoholic I meet is a surprise alcoholic.  You know, like the opposite of a vegan.  There are no surprise vegans.  It is the same with straight male flight attendants.  A straight male flight attendant is the least mysterious person on earth with his sexuality.  They usually bring up their wife/girlfriend/penis in the first 7 words. 

 Statistically they say 1 out of 12 people suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.  Could you point them out in a room?  I don't think so.  There is a stigma about being an alcoholic.  People stigmatize alcoholics as being dangerous or lackluster in their performance.  But, it is becoming more apparent it is quite the opposite.  There are many alcoholics with stellar work records.  Not to toot my own horn, but I was never once late to work in the last 11 years.  Toot toot.  Yet, I drank every day.  I know many people that drink daily and are super functioning adults.  I would not call them alcoholics by any means.  Everyone knows you get to write that label in your own handwriting.  They're parents.  They're professionals.  They've never had a ticket.  They pay their taxes.  

People have to hide their alcoholism.  I understand why they choose to not identify with being alcoholic.  We are secret because we do not identify with the stigma.  The stigmas are not good.  They put a label on you that is absolutely not warranted and not accurate.  But, in all the years of reading about alcoholism I imagined the worst of the worst.  People who were constantly a danger to others.  People who were in trouble with the law.  People who were irresponsible at work and at home.  People living on the edge.  I imagined a partier or lazy man sitting in a LA-Z-Boy with a beer in hand ignoring his children.  I never imagined the average educated, middle-aged person, with a stellar work record, no speeding tickets, and a substantial 401k.  But, there is a huge subset of women in this position.  Women who allow themselves one to five glasses of wine a night to let go of her stresses.  She's not hiding anything.  She's not identifying because the identity of an alcoholic is broken.  The picture we would put under "alcoholic" in a dictionary never has our pretty face in it.  

Fast forward to what happens after you hit your tipping point and start identifying with alcohol abuse.  If you choose to follow the most recommended method of complete sobriety, you cross over into another category called teetotallers.  Once again, you could not point these teetotallers out in a crowd.  Sober people do not usually slip the fact that they do not indulge in an occasional drink while speaking to someone.  Why?  Because of that silly alcoholic stigma.  I think the more people that talk about it.  The less stigmatized it will be.  I've started throwing out the word teetotaller more often.  Not a lot of people know the word.  So, that is Teetotally fun.  

I hope to somehow be able to smugly say that I am a teetotaller with a air of superiority like a vegan does.  I hope everyone someday can support anyone's effort to change for a healthier lifestyle whatever reason they might choose it.  Let's high five anyone wanting to try a new diet to be healthier.  Kudos to the people at the gym giving it a go.  You want to eat only bacon?  Alrighty then.  You have your reasons.  Own it like a vegan.  Sobriety is a choice...and a hell of a good one.  So, hats off to you.