by Sean Bonner

Labels

in Psychology / Social Issues

Fri, 02 Jan 2004, 22:48

If you just wake up in the morning and don't do anything all day, by default, you don't drink. So not drinking is the basis that everyone starts with, and then you either stick to that or you start drinking at some point in the day. So, I'm finding it interesting that in the discussions going on people are going out of their way to put labels on the people who don't drink. I have a handfull of friends who don't drink and I've never once referred to them as my "sober" friends. Come to think of it I don't call the rest of my friends my "drunk" friends either. Not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just interesting to me for a few reasons.

Generally it works the other way around, the people who engage in an activity get the label, the ones who don't, don't. We don't call the people walking down the street non-drivers, we don't call people who don't go to church non-prayers, we don't call people who don't use computers (Gasp!) non-e-mailers. It's the ones who do it who get the name. So why is it different here?

I'm not sure I have an answer to this either. Maybe it's because society as a whole has been so hammered by ad campaigns and what not that it seems out of place when someone doesn't partake in drinking? Maybe it's to give a guy who doesn't drink a sense of belonging to a group? Maybe it's a combination of those and other things.

Personally I'm not a big fan of labels. I think if you are doing something, it needs to be for you. First and formost. You have to be comfortable with the decision, because you are the one that makes it happen. If you put the faith in some group, then it's easy to blame them down the line. Some group, some label is easy to walk away from, your own convictions aren't so easily discarded.

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Jan 3, 2004 1:50:31 AM
1 - Drew

I like what you said. I hate labels, yet use the term 'sober' in describing myself as a sort of brand. I think that it helps to remind me that I cannot have a beer or a glass of wine with impunity - after 1 I lose all control. If I remember that the "off switch" is broken, then I can think things through to their logical conclusion, which is incomprehensible demoralization. When I call myself sober or alcoholic then I am identifying as a part of a group of people who do the same, and the odds are that we can stay sober together better than we can apart. I guess for me the tipping point was when I was willing to surrender the ego of my intellect and the pride of my knowledge in order to stop being a slave to the tool of my own destruction - booze. In other words, I felt that I was dying on the insides, and when someone told me to identify myself as an alcoholic as the first step toward quitting drinking, I did it out of desparation. Thank God it worked, othewise I might have felt pretty silly.

Jan 3, 2004 6:32:02 AM

We (people) label exceptions to the perceived norm. Alcohol, and other intoxicants, have always held a special place in human society. Perhaps this is because they alter perception to varying degress providing relief from the mundane, whatever. Sobriety means, among many other things, that one is "on" all the time. A lot of people find this threatening and others find it just plain strange. Almost everyone who drinks regularly will defend their drinking in some manner whether or not they have a problem. Get used to it because everytime you think it has gone away it pops up again. Labeling yourself as sober is not only a reminder that you don't want to drink but also a positive afirmation of your intent to not drink. Declaring that intention for no more than 24 hours at a time makes it easier to live up to. Declaring it for more than 24 hours waters it done and takes some of the magic away from it. Avoiding the act of labeling other people is not only polite but has obvious and hidden benefits.

I am sober today because learning how not to drink by practicing the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions through the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous has not only freed me from the addiction of alcohol and other intoxicants, but has led me to a concept of a loving God (that I can accept) who helps me live a grateful, full, contented life 24 hours at a time.

That does not in any way, shape, or form mean that I don't raise hell and have a great kick-ass time.

Feb 1, 2004 10:49:37 AM
3 - gabrielle

I label myself on the inside. Some of the labels I attribute to myself are so unacceptable that I turned to substances to try and find ways to accept, or at least ignore for a while, the labels I created for myself. At this point in time labelling myself a non drinker (early days and I'm still arguing with myself about where my limits and boundaries are) I digress - I am trying on the non drinker label as I think it may help me to remember that I want to be free of drinking. Its gotten so that I can't even enjoy the one or two social drinks - I can stop after two but I feel as sick and lousy as if it were ten or more. So, I like to wake up and think "I am a non drinker". Once I'm more practised at being a non drinker, maybe I won't need the label anymore.

May 7, 2004 11:22:24 AM
4 - Jacob

Hello! Super work performed. Top PAGE, further so!

Jacob

Jul 19, 2005 1:43:48 PM
5 - Chip

WHY DOES THE "NON-drinker" GET THE LABEL?!? Easy. Every one in this society drinks. Everyone! Unless they are very religious or had to give it up! I can't think of a soul who just never drinks alcohol for no reason! Sad commentary, perhaps, but we are a society of drinkers.

Jan 3, 2007 6:53:38 AM

It is demonstrated every day that millions of people can and do drink alcohol in moderation without having any negative side effects. In fact, some research has shown that drinking wine in moderation, for example, can affect a person’s health in a positive manner. Unfortunately, there are some people who, for one reason or another, cannot drink any type or amount of alcohol. The comments on this blog reinforce this message again and again: if alcohol is destroying your health, your relationships, and your life, you must quit. Thank you to everyone who has had the courage to tell his or her story :-)