Our Many Faces

The only chip I ever collected and the only one that matters.
The only chip I ever collected and the only one that matters.

April is Alcoholism Awareness Month, the purpose of which is to increase awareness and understanding aimed at reducing the stigma associated with alcoholism. It’s the stigma and fear associated with it that often prevents people and their loved ones from seeking help.

The word alcoholic makes people uncomfortable, both alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike. For me, it’s kind of like telling people I’m a Christian. You never know how people are going to react.

Those of us who were highly functioning don’t want people to think we were skid row alcoholics. We don’t want to be judged unfairly and put into a group of people who are marginalized by society. But the truth is an alcoholic is an alcoholic just like a sinner is a sinner. Yes, we all have our different spots on the map but we share the same world. We are a lot more alike than we are different. Those of us who are sober share the same strength and courage, whether we drank our hooch from a paper bag or a crystal goblet. We can’t just remove the stigma for the alcoholics who blend well into society. We have to fight to remove the stigma for all of us.

Many of us have been touched by alcoholism in our families. For a long time, I prided myself on not being like the alcoholics in my family as if that proved I didn’t have a drinking problem. Ultimately, all it proved is that I was better at lying and manipulation to be able to conceal my secret. My mom will be sober 18 years in May and she did it without ever attending a meeting or consciously striving for recovery. She got on the floor and begged for grace. We share the same floor, we share the same disease. She’s my hero.

Many of my sober blogging buddies are writing about the stigma of alcoholism and I’ve read some fabulous posts. These are just a few:

In Hi I’m Sherry and I’m…uh…the “A” word, Sherry at Oh for the love of…me writes eloquently about the label of alcoholic and how painting all alcoholics with the same brush robs us of our humanity.

Jami at Sober Grace’s post, Too smart, too young, and too pretty to be an alcoholic, asks for advice on what to do about her supervisor who thinks she should hide her alcoholism. The comments she received are really thought provoking.

In her post, When Mercy Trumps Judgment, Heather Kopp at Sober Boots writes about how addiction is often judged as a moral issue, which prevents many from offering the compassion needed to address the issue.

Maggie at Sober Courage republished important information from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: http://sobercourage.com/2014/04/06/april-2014-ncadd-alcohol-awareness-month/

Jana at The Beggar’s Bakery wrote a book, Edgewise: Plunging off the brink of drink and into the love of God, about being a Christian alcoholic who found redemption. I read it and it’s fantastic.

We are doing good, important work here. We are the many faces of alcoholism.

17 thoughts on “Our Many Faces

  1. I wish you continued success in your recovery Karen. A number of people close to me have suffered from alcoholism & sadly their battle to overcome their addiction has been just that, a battle. I commend you for all of your had work & finding the support & strength needed to stay sober.


  2. This is really great, Karen. How embarrassed I am to write I didn’t know April is alcoholism awareness month. I love what you write here about stigma and how we can only help remove it for all by speaking up. Love that you link to specific posts on the subject and look forward to reading each one. Thanks for this.


  3. Oh yes, good and important work. My life has been changed, for the better, since moving among the community of addicts and alcoholics. This is where I really learned about grace. And I’m still learning. Sinner, alcoholic, addict, same thing. We’re all in need of redemption. So thankful for you blog, and the others, who are telling this important story. (By the way, if you haven’t read the book, Sober Mercies, I highly recommend it. She also blogs at Sober Boots. Heather Kopp is the author.)


    1. I love Heather Kopp and loved her book as well! What you do is so important, Debby. Many addicts don’t expect to be treated with compassion and respect. That you’ve dedicated your life to those on the fringe is so powerful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!


  4. Thanks so much for the shout out! I’m honored.

    What you said about your mom got me thinking…everyone kneels the same way. Alcoholism is the great equalizer.



  5. The only chip that matters. Amen to that. You earn it every single day.

    Love the post — thanks for the other links. I haven’t had as much reading time, so I love the “read these!” suggestions.


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