The Power of Words + Labels
With that in mind, spend some time considering what feels good to you. Set aside expectations, stereotypes, or preconceived notions of what a person who doesn’t drink should be, and consider what empowers and motivates you to pursue a life without booze. If you find a word that jives, then that’s wonderful, but if taking on a label feels unhelpful for you, you don’t have to “call” it anything.
It’s your path, your journey. You call the shots.
A few additional wordy things to consider:
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
As new frameworks, data, and information emerge, the mental health and medical fields update their language as well. A new diagnostic label has emerged—Alcohol Use Disorder—in place of “Alcoholism.” This considers many different factors, but changes some of the thinking around longevity of diagnosis (Alcoholism is considered an incurable disease, and AUD is not, for example), and the stigma that surrounds the term “Alcoholism.” It’s a move to destigmatize struggles with alcohol, and can be a helpful update for our own terminology.
Person-first language puts the human first, and the diagnosis second. For example, shifting “alcoholic” to “person struggling with alcohol use.” Another example is shifting from “deaf person” to “person who is hard of hearing.” This is another step to humanize and destigmatize things like mental health, difficulties with substance use, and medical conditions. It can be helpful as we consider alcohol use—it doesn’t have to define everything we are, and we are a human first, regardless.