Do I Say Addict or Alcoholic?
It’s the oldest question around! Do I identify myself as an addict or an alcoholic?
I’ve been asking myself this since I was first introduced to the rooms of twelve-step recovery. That was back in the dark ages of the mid 2000’s. My family thought I needed help and sent me to an IOP program. The IOP, in turn, sent me to rooms of Narcotics Anonymous.
So, I went to a few NA meetings. I was thoroughly confused by what I heard there. I did learn a few important things, though. I learned I probably do have a problem with drugs and alcohol. I learned I used drugs to fill a void.
I also learned to call myself an addict. The one thing I didn’t learn was how to stop drugging and drinking. Spoiler alert, I didn’t learn how to stop because I didn’t want to.
Fast forward a few years and I was introduced to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was in a residential treatment center and they took us to AA meetings every night. When I raised my hand to share and said “My name’s Fiona and I’m an addict,” well, let’s just say I caught an earful.
I was told I was disrupting the meeting. I was told to call myself an alcoholic. I was told to respect the house I was in.
Respect the House You’re In
Since that fateful meeting, I’ve heard this slogan repeated a lot. Respect the house you’re in. What exactly does it mean though?
Well, it means exactly what it sounds like! I should identify myself according to the fellowship I’m attending. If I’m in NA, I call myself an addict. If I’m in AA, I call myself an alcoholic. If I’m in CA, I call myself a cocaine addict. If I’m in EDA I say I’m recovering from an eating disorder.
It’s pretty simple actually! See, I suffer from a disease of complication. I can take the simplest concept and twist it up in my head to be something completely different. Part of sobriety, for me, is to keep thing simple. In fact, one of my favorite recovery sayings is Keep it Simple!
But I Never Had a Problem with Alcohol!
I hear this all the time in meetings. I hear women refuse to identify themselves as alcoholics because they never drank. I hear women refuse to identify themselves as addicts because they never did drugs.
While that makes sense in theory, in practice it’s quite different. Being an addict or alcohol has nothing to do with what substance we did or didn’t use. It has to do with our thinking.
In both AA and NA literature, the disease is called “a disease of thinking and relationships.” See, I’m an addict and alcoholic because I have a mental obsession with drugging and drinking. I’m an addict and alcoholic because I’m unable to form true partnerships with other people.
Until I have a spiritual awakening. Once that happens, my thinking returns to (mostly) normal. I’m able to be selfless instead of selfish. Thank God for that!
What If Say Alcoholic/Addict?
I’ve heard this one a lot, too. I’ll be sitting in a meeting and someone says, “My name’s So and So and I’m an addict and alcoholic.”
There’s nothing really wrong with this. I still feel like we, as women in recovery, should respect the house we’re in, though. It seems disrespectful, in my opinion, to add an unnecessary qualifier.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!