Should we define alcohol use on a spectrum?

Lonna Whiting
3 min readNov 9, 2021


The answer is “yes” and here’s why

You can be a hard-on-your-luck, drinking first thing in the morning, get the DTs kind of drinker.

Or you can be questioning whether or not your daily wine habit is healthy or not.

Chances are, if you think about your drinking use as a possible problem in your life, it is a problem.

But does that mean you are an alcoholic?

Nope, though you certainly can call yourself one if you find it helpful.

Most of us don’t wake up one day and say, “Jeeze, I wish I could become addicted to an ethanol-fueled, carcinogenic beverage of my choice today.”

Yet it happens to more people than we know. Whether caused by generational or situational trauma, the result of a bad habit that got out of control, bad luck or just bad choices, addiction to alcohol is a vast and varied experience that’s a result of individual circumstances — not necessarily a disease.

Part of me thinks I would have quit drinking sooner had I understood that I didn’t need to call myself an alcoholic, or sober, or anything, really.

In fact, the minute someone calls me an alcoholic, I’m wagging my finger at them and will spend the next ten minutes of both our lives explaining why I don’t identify as such.

Did I have a drinking problem? Absolutely.

Do I still have a drinking problem? Nope.

Am I in recovery? Of course. I hope to always be recovering from something because it means I’m healing and improving my life.

Why do we need spectrums?

Without them the world is one homogenous and polarizing stereotype.

Without spectrums, we’d have to call every liberal-minded person a Democrat or every conservative-minded person a Republican. If you’re a thoughtful person, you know these are extreme categorizations that do not account for a universe of issues, causes and positions where a person…



Lonna Whiting

Writer, Alzheimer’s Slayer and promoter of alcohol-free living