The label “alcoholic” kept me away. The term “Gray area drinking” invited me in

For a very long time, what stopped me from confronting my alcohol use and deciding to lead an alcohol free life was my fear that I would be branded an alcoholic.

The only choice I saw was black or white. I am either an alcoholic or I am not.  I was stuck in a paradigm that did not speak to me and my particular relationship with alcohol.


Am I an alcoholic if I can stop drinking and suffer no physical reaction? Am I an alcoholic if I have had no rock bottom but in reality, lead a highly functioning and successful life by my own standards? I would always come to the same conclusion, I was not an alcoholic. I was not black.

But I also knew this. I wasn’t quite white, either.

Thankfully for me, and I would guess millions of others, there is a new paradigm that provides all of us with the ability to make good, healthy decisions around alcohol without having to identify as an alcoholic. Enter gray area drinking.

Think of a spectrum. Gray area drinkers are not those people who drink socially once in awhile. Social drinkers are on one end of the spectrum. Gray area drinkers are not alcoholics or alcohol abusers. They are at the other end of this spectrum. Gray area drinkers are most of us. We are in the middle of the spectrum. The area is large and real and I, for one, am in it. See article by Dr. Joseph Nowinski, PhD  For many of us gray area drinkers, we know we need to listen to that inner voice that tells us it is time to put down the wine glass before we do become physically addicted and before we hit a rock bottom.


So the more I am learning about this shift away from “Am I an alcoholic?”  or “Am I not an alcoholic?” the more I am filled with hope and confidence that joining the sober revolution is a positive and wise decision I am making for my health, my heart and the last one third of my life. something to be cheered, just like when I quit cigarettes. No shame. Cheers.

So, whether it is a matter of semantics, or a marketing boon, the paradigm created by the concept of gray area drinking is changing my life, for the better. Gray area drinking is creating a positive path to an alcohol free life for me, finally.

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