In Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each person introduces themselves with their first name followed by “..and I am an alcoholic”. This is an essential identification since it embodies the First Step, “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable”. Moreover, ‘alcoholic’ defines the person as nothing else can do for this not an ‘illness’ to be cured but a fact of life for that individual. It is, simply put, who they are.
One hears the term “recovering alcoholic” to describe someone who had a drinking problem but no longer imbibes, which of course is a case of semantics. At least they don’t say “recovered.” Any dyed-in-the-wool 12 Stepper will tell you, it is only One Day at a Time!
Another common theme of meetings is what they call the “drunkalog”, the story-telling about the endless days and nights of constant drinking or seeking a drink. If the non-alcoholic were to drop in they might think this was harping on the negative instead being optimistic about the future. The thing is, “The Past” is a part of the person. In fact, it could be said that we are the past and so what? If a newcomer has 30 days of sobriety then, in addition to a bunch of lost weekends, they have a month of new friends and many laughs.
In other words, those who have gotten clean and sober do not call themselves alcoholics in derision but in thanksgiving. The past simply becomes who we were at various times in our life. Now, one day at a time, we might make better decisions. At the very least, we try to make the ongoing “past” more meaningful and fun.