‘Recovering Alcoholic’: Words That Stigmatize or Empower?

zombie_slayer_recovering_alcoholic_ornament-ra51510b4d82a48b8b0e9d9803c750597_x7s2p_8byvr_324• The more the individual identified him/herself as a recovering alcoholic (addict) the higher was his/her level of self-efficacy.

• Higher self-efficacy was associated with more months clean and/or sober.

• The more the individual leaned toward the recovering identity the less likely she/he was to report having relapsed into drinking or drug use during the pervious two years.

So, is it really stigmatizing these days to identify yourself as a recovering alcoholic or addict? The evidence suggests that, to the contrary, coming to the point where an individual able to embrace that identity can help to solidify his or her recovery.

via ‘Recovering Alcoholic’: Words That Stigmatize or Empower? | Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D..

2 thoughts on “‘Recovering Alcoholic’: Words That Stigmatize or Empower?

  1. This is a very interesting article – thank you for sharing your findings.
    Stigma is such a big issue which is why labels are now being avoided for example it’s no longer “Kathy is a diabetic” it’s “Kathy has diabetes” or “Belinda is epileptic” it’s “Belinda has epilepsy”. Often labels have been used by recovering addicts and even people with various disorders as an excuse for their continued dysfunctional behaviour – for example, in the case of a recovering alcoholic, “I can act like this because an alcoholic would”.
    My opinion is that in some ways labels make us feel less alone – but in other ways, they also separate us from the rest of the group.
    Personally, I don’t think a condition defines a person – but if admitting it in this context works for recovering addicts and alcoholics, then go for it! In my experience, it’s not only stigma that holds people back but shame – particularly in these recovering addict situations.
    Thank you again for sharing your findings. Very thought-provoking!
    Best wishes,


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting so thoughtfully..

      I hear what your saying. One of my favorite quotes on illness and diagnosis is, “Once I became my illness, there was no one left to recover.”

      However, I’m convinced that identity plays an enormous role in recovering addicts maintaining behavior change and recovery over years and decades.

      I guess it depends on whether my identity attachment is to the illness or the recovery.

      Accepting an identity as a recovering person opens the door to new tools and peers.

      Eventually, I couldn’t stop doing the things that keep me sober, because they aren’t just things I do. They are part of who I am.

      I’ve actually tried to take the same approach with working out, to help make that stick for years.

      At any rate, here are some other posts on identity and recovery: http://addictionandrecoverynews.wordpress.com/?s=identity

      Thanks again. All the best.


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