A short time ago, I went to a meeting in Washington D.C. I was glad to have found a meeting and my way to it so easily, and the people were genuine and welcoming. It was also the first meeting I’d been to where the members seemed to talk, with no time limit, about their day-to-day lives, only occasionally mentioning alcohol, and no one seemed to mind. I’ve encountered this phenomenon before, but people begin to cut you off if you go down that road. Here, they welcomed more – the details of every resentment the speaker could name that had came up since the last meeting. For me, it was painful. For them, it must have been something else.

They also played a common trick: to label all of their thoughts and emotions as “alcoholism.” One man was upset that his friend bought too much macaroni and cheese for their weekend away, where he had expected to eat better and enjoy more reasonable portions. His upset was a function of alcoholism in his mind, but I think that all people get upset about things that don’t matter. Perhaps the fact that he’s still thinking about it, and talking about it in public, at an AA meeting, is a function of his alcoholism, but I don’t think it’s a uniquely alcoholic affair.

Other behaviors I’ve heard alcoholics claim for the state of alcoholism:

  • Getting angry
  • Wanting to be right
  • Being selfish
  • Being emotional
  • Being crazy

I think it’s human to be angry and righteous and selfish and emotional and crazy. I don’t know what purpose it serves to call behaviors that cause you suffering “alcoholism,” but maybe it works and maybe I’ll be doing it someday.

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