Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Wow you should really check the new video out on the Crying Out Now website, there's some incredibly foxy ladies in it (!! ha ha !!).  No but seriously this site is a godsend and was very helpful to me in my early days.  I remember watching their first video and crying looking at all the strong sober women holding up their signs (maybe it was the Katy Perry song that got my tears flowing).

I do agree with a lot of what Ellie is writing here about changing the way the world thinks about what an alcoholic is.  The word has such a stigma attached to it. So much so that even though I do think I am an alcoholic (someone who cannot control their alcohol intake) I hardly ever say that out loud.

I'm very open about telling people that I have a problem with booze and that's why I don't drink it.  I told a woman who I hardly know while were were on holiday, and I also told a new neighbourhood friend at a school quiz night the other night. But when I do this I don't say 'I'm an alcoholic'. I say 'I have a problem with alcohol' or 'I was finding it hard to control so I cut it out altogether' or 'I was drinking too much and I'm better off without it in my life'.

I very rarely say 'I'm an alcoholic' because it just sounds so full on and dramatic, and like there's a whole lot of really dark and terrible shit in my past, like I was a disheveled, slurring, sloppy, stumbling loser, out on the streets or lurking in seedy bars.  When in actual fact when I was drinking far too much I was a tidy, outwardly normal suburban mum. One whose slurring, sloppy, stumbling loser tendencies were confined to the privacy of her own home.

And this is the whole point - no? There are so many of us alcoholics who don't fit the dirty homeless  stereotype - yet we keep the stereotype in place because we don't identify as alcoholics publicly.

Does the word matter?  Do I have to use the word alcoholic? Can't I say 'problem drinker' or 'dysfunctional drinker' if I want?  At least I'm being open.

One other thing Ellie said in her post kind of freaked me out though.. she says 'I don't think that one can stay sober long term completely online.'  Well holy shit, I'm doomed. Online support is all I do.  Am I destined to start drinking again if I don't seek out face-to-face support??  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Don't let it be so!

Love, Mrs D xxx


  1. Hi Mrs D . . . An open meeeting is open to non-alcoholics. family and friends (or the curious/nosey) etc. A closed meet is for alcoholics/addicts only.
    Yes I read that bit too about only having on-line support . . . I can't find a day time meeting anywhere nearby that feels right (ie, more than two or three blokes).
    It's been suggested to me that I try AA but I've been told that I would have to respect that it's AA and before I speak to say "My name is Diane and I'm an alcoholic" . . . But I'm not, I'm an addict. Whatever I share after saying that, will refer to drug use not drink so why even say it . . . we're all addicts. Also I was warned that some might look at me from a level of "O at least what we do is legal, I mean imagine using with children around" . . . Charming.
    It's weird isn't it; As much as there is a stigma attached to being an alcoholic . . . many of them still think they're better in some way than a "Smackhead" . . . O me, O my what a complcated world we live in. And yet, having been an alcoholic (pre-gear) I must say that as a heroin addict I am a far better Mother than I was as a "drinker" (!) . . . Ooo la la.
    Loadsa love sent to you today Mrs D x x x

  2. Hi, Mrs. D.

    I amin no way an 'expert' on AA but I have been around the rooms for over 20 years and will say this:

    The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

    These aren't my words but are taken straight from AA literature. People will get different vibes at different meetings because each meeting is autonomous. Within a three mile radius of my home there is a meeting that gets a little frowny if you identify as an addict, a meeting that could care less what you identify as. Hell, you don't even have to identify at all. A meeting that is for women only. A meeting that is mixed with a lot of NA in addition to AA. I could go on and on.

    Saturday night, a group of us started a new meeting in the downtown area of our city because we were getting fed up with all the changes at one of our favorite meetings nearby. We have the freedom to do that, as long as its an AA meeting and not just a bunch of people getting together to hang out.

    I will say this, though. AA meetings are structured and not open free for alls. There is a format, typically with a topic, and discussion. Sometimes there are Big Book studies, or !2 Step Studies, but it generally always follows a structured format.

    I live in an urban area with many meetings at my disposal unlike a person in a more rural area that may only have one meeting a week to choose from. This is typically where you will hear a lot of alcoholics gripe about AA. They simply haven't been exposed to a wide enough range of meetings.

  3. Mrs D, I don't get to meetings very often because I am too geographically isolated. I have stayed sober with online support for almost six years and it hasn't been that hard. I know others who have also relied on online forums and blogs and email support and they are doing just fine. No need for 'doom and gloom' thinking or scare tactics.

    That said, I found tremendous support and feedback in AA meetings, the kind of collective wisdom it is hard to find anywhere else. I have friends who have found sober support in LifeRing, SMART and Women for Recovery, alternative support groups for more secular women.

    When I go into an AA meeting I listen out for someone with a sense of humour and an independent mind. Befriending has worked fine for me, I didn't need sponsors. What has been invaluable in online or face-to-face contact has been the empathy -- others have been through this too! -- and the practical suggestions and insights.

    There is so much stigma out there about alcoholism that is mostly ignorance and prejudice, not very different from the stigmas attached to mood disorders or depression. I address it whenever I can and give links on my blog to new research done on alcoholism and addiction as well as better understandings of emotional illness.

  4. Uh yeah, I saw that part too about needing meetings, which I've been going to for the last 15+ months and find myself wanting to go to less and less. So it hit a nerve with me too. I know there are people that get and stay sober without the rooms. I also know some people say they need that regular contact with others in recovery to stay reminded and focused. I've come to believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sobriety.

    As for "alcoholic", I am right with you all the way. I know I am an alcoholic, but I don't like saying that word. It feels like an old word and does not fit with how I view most people I know from meetings or sober blogs. I think as long as we always remember -- know -- that we simply can't drink safely, the label we use is less important. And describing how you were before you stopped might help someone who drinks like that now identify and get help. You're doing sobriety beautifully, in my humble opinion.

  5. Hi Mrs D, soberinoctober pretty much said what I would say about AA. Open meetings are open to anyone, alcoholic or not. Visitors are welcome. This is where professionals interested in the program or people affected by another's drinking might visit to learn. Usually they do not participate in the meeting.

    Closed meetings are solely for people who have a desire to stop drinking, which is the only requirement for membership.

    If you are curious about AA then an open meeting might be best to start with, as it doesn't require any self identification as an alcoholic. You can just say you are interested in the programme. You won't have to give your name, other than your first name.

    The convention when sharing at meetings is to say my name is X. I am an alcoholic, but it is not compulsory and some people take a while to get this point.

    Having said that some meetings are more directive than others and it is good if you can to visit several.

    The AA Big Book was written for people who could not get to meetings. In those days meetings were few and far between and only in the US. Now there are online meetings.

    My view is that if for whatever reason we need AA to get sober but cannot get to a meeting then our Higher Power will find a way for AA to reach us in another format.

    I live in a city with a huge choice of meetings and I tried my best to get sober without attending them, reading the literature and visiting an online meeting.

    I could not get sober without physically attending a meeting. And I do not think I would stay sober for long without meetings. The meetings also help me cope with life without drinking. I hear my own story, I hear what others have done and are doing to stay sober. These people understand me. I do not have to explain.

    But there are many routes to sobriety. As long as you don't pick up the first drink you won't get drunk. Sobriety, or mental health without alcohol is a different thing, but many manage it without AA.

    Reading your blog I have often thought how very AA program orientated they are, although you do not start from that point.

    Maybe you have reached a stage where your instincts are prompting you to meet others like you. Only you can decide.

    Remember, even if you go to a few meetings and don't go back, it doesn't matter. You can go back anytime in the future if you want to. As often or as little as you like.

  6. PS, I've just read your previous and this jumped out at me:

    "I am a bit lonely here in the new city with not many 'real' friends (people who know me) in my neighborhood yet..... I miss my old life which was rich with people calling, texting and meeting up daily."

    If you go to as many AA meetings as you can you will make faster deeper friendships than you ever thought possible, and your life will be full of people calling, texting and meeting up daily if that is what you want. :)

    Truly, it happened to me and I am an extremely shy introvert who normally takes years to make a friend anywhere.

  7. Thanks for clearing up the whole open/closed meetings. I really want to go to AA, the times are just not convenient. I guess I am just making excuses though. I'm new here but I think whether you find support here or AA it doesn't really matter as long as you find someone to talk to about it, people who can relate.

  8. I have a problem with the statement about not being able to stay sober for long based completely on internet support.

    Who says? What studies have been done?

    I'm sorry, it just hits a nerve with me. I'm tired of having AA pushed at me. I don't want to go to AA. Period. I am sober. I have done it without AA. I like my sobriety as it is.

    When I slipped and took 3 sips a month ago, the first thing I heard on the message boards was, "Get to a meeting." My response was, "What do you tell people that slip up in AA? Do you say, try another program? No, you tell them to work the program harder, dig deeper. That's what I'm doing with my program."

    Many people are too ashamed in the beginning of their recovery journey to attend f2f meetings and telling them that there is no hope unless they do is a disservice.

    I'm sorry for spewing right now, but I have a nephew who is trying to quit drinking and his dad (my brother who recovered through AA 30 years ago) is on his ass so hard about not "having enough fire in his belly for AA" and not working the steps that my nephew is about ready to throw in the towel.

    There are other paths to sobriety and I believe internet support is one of them.

  9. i usually tell clients that i'm a teetotaler right off the bat (especially when business lunches here always include wine and some of my clients are from drinks & spirits companies) but i lie and tell them my doctor told me to stop. Still, with family and friends and coworkers, i don't use the word "alcoholic" but i tell people i'm in AA for my drinking.

    As for AA, i agree with ByeByeBeer, everyone has their own sobriety. i find AA makes it much easier for me to be sober and so that's what i do. i also have my online peeps and i know people who prefer other organizations. i think the best method is the one that keeps you sober and happy!

  10. Hi Mrs. D! I'm one of the women in the video, so I wanted to say, "Hi!" and weigh in. I say alcoholic just like I say God. To me they are both just words used as placeholders for concepts that I get to define myself. Just like we don't have to agree on what God is, we don't have to agree on what alcoholic is. So I don't have a whole lot of attachment to what other people may think of when they hear "alcoholic." What's important to me is that it is a quick word that reminds me of my powerlessness over booze.

    As for in-person meetings being necessary for sobriety, who knows? I love what Ellie is doing and saying with this, but in the end we can really only speak for ourselves. Can people stay sober long term without f2f meetings? Maybe! Can I? Probably not. And even if I could, I wouldn't want to because I believe in-person meetings make sobriety easier. I am a part of a great sober online community in Booze Free Brigade, but I get the most growth when I show up and open my mouth at a meeting. The in-person stuff is a much bigger challenge, and I believe that is why it has been so effective for me.

  11. Many thanks for your comment Mrs D, I am truly grateful and very touched.

  12. Crying Out Now was the first website i found when i was drunk and desperate and it helped enormously. It still does.

    I hope you don't feel your sobriety is doomed because you 'only' use online support. Online support for me is key to remaining sober and it is exactly what i need.

    I think there are as many paths and approaches to staying sober as there are individuals seeking it: We all find what works best for us.

    Imogen xox

  13. I really enjoyed the video and I think all the women in it are amazing and awesome!

    So many great comments, I agree with the overall sentiment. People get sober on their own on-line AND off-line all the time. There's a book "Sober For Good" that talks about alternatives to AA and how others have done it, and while I don't remember statistics, there were quite a few folks that did it all on their own- no meetings, no therapy, no on-line support.

    I think Ellie is doing amazing work and I'm sure she had no idea that one sentence would cause such debate. Based off of everything she has put out and her heartfelt honest sharing, I think her intentions were good. But I do agree with Kary on this one and would like to see the supported citations or studies.

    If you're thinking of going to an AA meeting, go for it. I met some really nice people that way. Sober friends rock, they really do. I found this guide to be really helpful before I went to my first meeting- hopefully it will help you and some of your readers too. xx RoS (Christy)


  14. Hi mrs d, you are probably the best judge of how your own sobriety is progressing. Are you feeling strong or weak? You don't need to pay any attention what someone else tells you. I go to a meeting once or twice or week. I'm not sure if I need to, but I figure it really doesn't hurt either. Somedays it's even a bit boring to tell you the truth. I've had AA members tell me that "only" way is the whole enchilada, but I don't buy it. I'm feeling plenty strong just the way I am.

    Being sober is a lot more then simply not drinking. Thats why people have programs. Have your program that works and work it!

  15. Mrs. D,
    I fell into AA thru online support...reading blogs, than the Booze Free Brigade and Crying Out Now. Someone from the BFB met me and took me to my first meeting.
    That said I just had this discussion with several sober friends, two of whom don't work an AA program. But they work....therapy and reading and talking to other alchoholics, yoga and whatever. They read the Big Book, they look at and learn about the steps...they have a program it's just not AA.
    I think there is work on oneself that has to be done outside of just reading blogs and talking online, but that's me, that's my program. I like the structure AND the anarchy of AA, and it truly is both. I can go to a meeting on Monday with a bunch of high-functioning moms and the Tuesday hit a meeting filled with tatooed bikers.
    And the beauty of that is that we're all the same, we all couldn't stop drinking. And then we did...
    however we get there is good.

  16. Hello-

    I say give AA a shot.I happen to like womens meetings. And if you a newcomer you will be supplied a list of phone numbers. It was a relief to introduce myself and say I was an alcoholic. I wouldn't be sober without AA. I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't nervous the first couple of meetings and avoided eye contact. It does get better and the women genuinely care. How great would it be to have other women who understand ?

  17. Hi Mrs D, I think everyone is unique and I think we each have to find what support works best for each of us. But in the end, it is our own commitment to sobriety that will keep us sober. For me, still relatively new...Day 60 Tomorrow! yay!....now that I have made the firm decision that I cannot be a social drinker...I have to be a NON-drinker...now that I have finally figured that out...I am committed to that. I find such support from your online blog because you totally get what I am going through...but its ME that is keeping me sober. Know what I am getting at? So we all have to choose what works best for us to be supported and there is no right or wrong in that. Love love love your blog!