Some posts may include affiliate links. For more info, please click here.
Shame. Embarassment. Humiliation. Defeat. These strong emotions are sometimes associated with alcohol sobriety. For me, when talking about my sobriety, I feel like it has also been a subject of discomfort. While I am open about why I don’t drink anymore, I can sometimes sense the discomfort from those who I share my story with. Whether it is bringing up feelings surrounding their own drinking habits, or just judgement based on what they perceive as weakness from me not being able to control my drinking, I am still happy to share my truth. But I can’t help but wonder….why is it so uncomfortable to talk openly about sobriety?
The studies don’t lie. Alcohol is and always has been a problem, for many people. According to a study by JAMA psychiatry, as many as 1 in 8 adults in America (12.7% of population) meet the meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder. On the CDC’s website, according to a behavioral survey done in 2018, approximately 16% of the adult population reported binge drinking. This number has increased for sure during the mandated seclusion most of the world has faced due to the pandemic over the past year.
With the amount of people acknowledging they have a some form of alcohol use disorder, which includes, binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, and alcohol dependence, as well as the fact that alcohol use disorder is classified within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders a person’s reasons for alcohol sobriety should NEVER be a source of shame or embarassment!
I feel alcoholism is a mental health disease that needs to be as openly discussed as physical diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Those of us (and there are many!) who have been consumed by drinking cannot help it any more than someone diagnosed with high blood pressure. I have no more control over my high blood pressure diagnosis than I do my alcoholic tendencies. Despite daily exercise and (overall) healthy eating, I am prone to high blood pressure. Why is that okay to admit I have high blood pressure, but not the fact that I couldn’t control my alcohol intake? This mindset around drinking needs to change!
As I have shared my sobriety over the years with close friends and family, it has even been met with denial. The few times I have heard “good luck with that” or “yea right” when I tell people I am sober has been disheartening, considering the extreme struggle I had with alcohol in the first place. Just because I was a functioning alcoholic didn’t mean I did not have a problem! And the amount of times I have been asked “are you still not drinking?” over the years has been frustrating. No, this is not a fad. This isn’t trendy. This is a lifestyle change I HAD to make for my survival and wellbeing. When questions like this come up, I remind the person that I had a serious problem with alcohol. And although my recovery didn’t include AA, I am still a recovering alcoholic nonetheless.
I also feel that as this mindset regarding sobriety shifts, it will allow more people who need the help to seek it without experiencing that shame and guilt that comes with acknowleding that he or she needs help to stop drinking.
What I do have under my belt now, proudly at over 3 years of sobriety is time. Time abstaining from alcohol has proven to others and most importantly to myself that I am worthy of an alcohol free life. And that is nothing to be ashamed of.