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Why the Stigma Around Alcoholics and Addicts, IF It Exists, Doesn’t Even Matter.


February 2020

I’ve written a few posts about the “stigma” some believe is associated with alcoholics and addicts.  Let’s just say I’m not a fan and leave it at that… and there’s one simple reason; I was never a victim in my abusing days.  I have no room for that self-centered mess, but there’s more.

Friends, I earned my stigma and if you’re of the variety who over-indulged in booze or drugs, chances are you earned yours too.  I’ve never seen one of us quit drugs or alcohol on a winning streak, so a lot of collateral damage around us is normal.  Really, if I look at this a little closer, I earned the pre-recovery stigma that said I was not a good human being.  At the same time, I also earned the post recovery stigma stereotype, because of which I became a sought after commodity; recovering people make excellent employees (and employers) because we, if we’re doing it right, try to live a moral, good life.  We also show up for work on Super Bowl Monday.  Sans hangover.

Let’s take a look at what’s really important for a minute, though, if we truly want to be free of our addiction.  We have to embrace the simple idea, “what someone else thinks of me is none of my business”.

Let’s break that down a bit. This reality isn’t a license to be a piece of shit, lest we suffer the stigma of being a piece of shit. It’s not a license to be a drag on society. It is a license to self-assess, to work on keeping my side of the street clean (which means to look at my part in everything I do and correct what I’ve done wrong, not worrying about the other(s) in that equation, and to do the best I can to be the best me possible. Sober.  Clean.

If I do that, someone else’s opinion of me, especially if based on ignorance, is none of my business.

What happens to that stigma then?


Now, if you absolutely, positively have to wear a stigma so you can fight something, anything, know that it’s perfectly okay.  Just know it’s mostly in your head (you’re projecting how you think society thinks of you onto society), and I’m not going to wear that with you, because I know why  one must fight “the stigma”.  It’s ego, and mine is back in the cage with my addiction.  In other words, to use a buzz phrase from two years ago, stigma abhors a vacuum.  Create the vacuum.

I keep my side of the street clean a stigma is none if my business. And for that I am grateful.


  1. Jim, excellent post. Embracing “what someone else thinks of me is none of my business” is a great reminder as it’s something I’m prone to fighting even though I know that isn’t meant to be mine to control. Keep it simple. Tend to my side of the street or my part of the garden. Good stuff, bro.

  2. Eliza says:

    We think people think way more than they do. Though people tell me I’m naive, so maybe they really spend all day discussing me and only me, for I’m THAT important. The stigma isn’t really from others, it’s more our own perception.
    Actually, this is reminding me of today. Someone was telling me they don’t like when people try to be nice to her (she was referencing due to something specific that she gets lots of inane and humourous comments about). She was this time talking about someone who has just now gotten to know her. My response was – what do you care? If he is trying to be nice, if he feels bad for you, that’s not your issue, it’s his issue.
    It doesn’t matter what random people think. And if people judge you, they’re usually not people you need in your life. Usually because sometimes it is family who you choose to have a close relationship with irrespective. And this has gotten off tangent.
    Love, light, and glitter

    • bgddyjim says:

      You know, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard the notion that “stigma” was self-induced… THAT will need a post. I follow politics too closely, and in politics, stigma is victim speak and highly dubious. It’s used in discrimination politics, aka “identity politics”. Thanks for commenting, Eliza.

      • Eliza says:

        I don’t follow politics so what do I know? A person can choose to feel like a victim… of course there are circumstances that are true regardless how one feels but the choice how to relate to it will change ones part in causing it – and there’s nothing to do about the others part for it’s not yours… I’m thinking of something completely unrelated that bothers and hurts me. It took me time to recognize my part. Which I changed. The rest hurt and still hurts. I thought what i felt was happening may have been my imagination until someone else told me they see it. So I’ve changed my part. And now can choose whether to hurt myself more because of what others feel or just enjoy what is there. If that makes any sense.

      • bgddyjim says:

        It absolutely does make sense.

  3. joliesattic says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Being a victim, in some instances, is a choice whether consciously or unconsciously. The cycle can be broken. Growing up, I was a victim of my abuse. Once I realized that, I began to overcome it and before long, men stopped seeing me as prey and I ceased being the prey. The road to recovery is never easy.

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