I am not an alcoholic!

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on June 10th, 2010 - Last updated: September 29th, 2023
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Dear Stanton:

Where have you been for the past ten years? I stumbled upon your web site by accident and found an answer to my prayers.

For several years now I have been diagnosed as an alcoholic. I was in treatment twice and hated every minute of it. I didn’t buy into AA and never really believed I was an alcoholic. the phrase, “You’re in denial,” was my theme.  I was young and my father had just died the first time I went into treatment.

The second time I was alone in a small town in a different state.

It sounds ludicrous, but if someone had taught me to cope instead of drink I’d be much further along.

Today, I have found my own recovery. I drink when and where I want–in moderation and I confront my problems head on. I’m a different person. I’m successful and goal oriented. I’m not handicapped by drinking. I realize now, that this is not a fluke. How can I help other people to identify the PROBLEM behind their drinking and to deal with it in a logical manner?


Dear Barbara:

I love your letter. And I love your spirit.

I was thinking of a man I know whose father was an alcoholic. The guy I know drank too much when he was younger, and when he was doing a number of antisocial things. But his values were basically good and strong. He was worried about his drinking, and as he settled down in life he cut back.

On the night before his wedding, he went out with the boys and became falling down drunk – clearly, another case of an irreversible alcoholic whose true nature came out. Except he hasn’t been drunk for years now, although he frequently drinks ordinary amounts of beer and wine at meals or with people.

How easy it would have been to have labeled him an alcoholic when he was younger! But the greatest danger of all is not being put in that category, but accepting it! You didn’t.

Your story is so important, because people less strong than you need to understand that because someone else you are something does not defeat your self-perception. I’d like to spread your story, and will do so on my web site.

If you look at my response about non-AA resources, you will discover other sites which offer exchanges among people with feelings similar to yours. But yours is the best.

Sincerely, Stanton

Further Reading

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.


  • Dennis says:

    I’m in desperate need of help breaking the pattern of calling myself an alcoholic. As damaged my brain at a deep level. I haven’t been there in years and still can’t sleep at night. Help would be appreciated

  • Craig says:

    This speaks to me in a massive way, I was labeled and labeled my self an alcoholic 4 years ago have been to aa and other counselling only to really find I was never shown how to deal with loss. After losing my best friend to suicide I didn’t know how to deal with the emotions and it only showed when I drank because when I was sober I would bottle them up pardon the pun

    Problem now is trying to convince those around me that my problems were emotional and some what psychological not substance abuse

    Thank you for sharing

  • Nancy says:

    Hi, I find this very interesting. I went into treatment twice 20 years ago for alcohol and drug addiction. Since then Ive battled addiction and went to many many AA meetings. I was 12 years without booze and drugs last year. I actally stopped meetings 7 years ago and found an excellent psycotherapist whom i saw weekly abd fortnightly and still do. This year i have started to have the odd social drink as I now belive I am not an alcoholic. I did however drink like an alcoholic back in the day. I do belive there are diffrent models in recovery. AA being excellent to help stop drinking. I know I took a big risk having a drink again but so far so good and I truly belive I am not an alcoholic or I would not have risked this. X

  • Hayley says:

    I’m in aa but what if I’m not an alcoholic

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