Call a spade a spade.

One of my family’s expressions – “Call a spade a spade!”.  It was whenever you were dancing around a topic avoiding saying the potentially hurtful word etc.

On this morning’s commute I read this.

Heavy drinking will kill 63,000 people over next five years, doctors warn

I’ve heard and read a lot in the sober/non-drinking blogsphere about people who drink more than they like not liking being labelled an alcoholic.  It is one of the often criticisms of AA the classic view of a room of people all introducing themselves as “I’m so-and-so and I’m an alcoholic”.  When I went to rehab did I want to call myself that?  Did I think I’d end up repeatedly saying it, if only to myself, daily for 13 years?  Did I think I’d be stood in front of professionals and others at seminars saying it?  Nope.  Am I glad I do?  YES… more emphasis YES!!!

Heavy drinking will kill 63,000 people…. yes well … NO!   ALCOHOLISM will kill 63,000 people.  Let’s call the spade a spade folks.

Let’s look at history, definitions etc….

Firstly Alcoholism was first coined in the 19th Century by the Swedish doctor Magnus Huss who first defined it “as a conjunction of pathological manifestations of the central nervous system, in psychic, sensory, and motor spheres”, and was observed in individuals that consumed alcoholic beverages in a continuous manner, in excess, and over a long period.” (Ref –

It’s been through redefinitions etc. but WHO now have this definition..

alcoholism (F10.2) A term of long-standing use and variable meaning, generally taken to refer to chronic continual drinking or periodic consumption of alcohol which is characterized by impaired control over drinking, frequent episodes of intoxication, and preoccupation with alcohol and the use of alcohol despite adverse consequences. (REF –

The world-wide regarded DSM (manual that defines mental health conditions) in it’s latest guise has a single Alcohol Use Disorder AUD. 

To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Under DSM–5, the current version of the DSM, anyone meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met.

To assess whether you or loved one may have AUD, here are some questions to ask.  In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the after effects?
  • Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?



What’s in a name – well to me actually it is a good thing if people are appalled to initially be called / diagnosed an alcoholic.  True change comes from within and being so shocked as I was perhaps is a spur to action.  The stats in the piece in the Guardian are frankly staggering

“alcohol misuse will lead to 62,905 deaths between 2017 and 2022 and cost the NHS £16.74bn to treat” and “predicts that 32,475 of the deaths – the equivalent of 35 a day – will be the result of liver cancer and another 22,519 from alcoholic liver disease”.

Preventable deaths, preventable cost to the health services, not just in money but all the time and energy etc.  These people are going to die!  I’ll say that again… These people are going to die!  And still even in the headline, we shy away from upsetting them by calling them alcoholic….    I’m lost for words…

The truly good thing for me sitting here is that I truly hope I’ll never be one of those stats – I’ve no symptoms etc. of alcohol related disease currently, hopefully I stopped in time and the liver is a remarkable organ in healing itself if you catch it early enough.

I’ll be as blunt as I can – if you are one of those who like me for year claimed to be “a heavy drinker” let me look you in the eyes and say “You are probably an alcoholic.”  Go back up to that list of used to determine AUD – be honest with yourself.  I had a clean sweep of those not just the two you need to be classified within AUD.  I bet most “heavy drinkers” if honest will score highly on that list.  Now call that spade a spade accept alcoholism and get on with getting some recovery.

About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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2 Responses to Call a spade a spade.

  1. ainsobriety says:

    I actually think the headline should be drinking alcohol will kill x people per year.

    Using terms like heavy drinker, alcoholic, alcohol use disorder….they just encourage people to say sobriety is for those poor people who have a problem. Not for Me, with my fancy wine tastings and crystal glasses and expensive tequila….

    The problem is way more pervasive than people want to believe…binge drinking and regular, daily drinking are encouraged and accepted. Our society is in trouble.


  2. The terms scare people away from getting help.
    I think that’s the problem. I didn’t like the world alcoholic, and so I never wanted help.
    I am not sure what the answer is, except education about what drinking does not only to our bodies, but our spiritual and mental health, our family lives..etc.
    I am happily sober today!

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