Like it or loath it the Rose of Tralee, gets plenty of media attention with one headline stating
“Startling confession from Carlow Rose wows the nation”
the confession refers to an addiction problem.
Rose of Tralee confesses addiction problem
This headline caused much controversy on social media with comments such as this
from Amy Lynam
“Another disgusting headline.
Confession: the act of admitting that you have done something wrong or illegal @IrishTimes you are contributing to addiction stigma, please stop”
The headline was eventually taken down.
What’s the problem?
Well Amy is right. Confessing to an addiction problem is seen as something shameful. We don’t “confess” to breast cancer or a wonky elbow. Why? Because we don’t blame people for their breast cancers or wonky elbows.
However, you’re probably thinking, unlike addiction, people don’t cause their own breast cancers or wonky elbows. They are responsible for their own drinking though.
Drinking is a risk factor for breast cancer
Facts are though some breast cancers are caused by drinking and some wonky elbows are caused by falling on a tennis court. But thankfully we don’t label these separately and decide the poor sufferer is to be shamed and blamed. So why do we do it with drinking? It stops people looking for help when they do have a problem with their drinking. Making it worse, not only do we shame people who drink too much we also shame people who are trying to control their drinking.
We shame people who try to control their drinking
We’ve a great acceptance of people who drink too much, once they do not admit to having a problem.
“Sure she’s great craic”
“She’s the life and soul of the party. “
But try to control your drinking or not drink at all, and you feel labelled as boring or you feel pressured to drink to please friends. Or you even get asked if you’re pregnant. Our atittudes towards drinking are a total paradox!
Rose of Tralee opens a new chapter
So the Rose of Tralee’s bravery was rightly admired and she was even made favourite to win. (She did n’t, that would be a step too far!) You can see her wonderful interview here. However she did not have an addiction problem, her parents had the addiction problem. She just sadly grew up with it. So the headlines were even more misleading and no wonder commentators were annoyed and right to be concerned about the poor reporting. All the media mentioned her parents had a heroin problem, very few of them mentioned they had an alcohol addiction problem first.
Don’t let stigma get to you
Whether you just have an occasional problem with alcohol or whether you have a physical dependence on alcohol, it’s really important not to let society’s shaming attitudes towards alcohol bring you down. It’s not easy as the now sadly deceased social justice campaigner Dara Quigley eloquently puts it
“That is one of the unseen struggles of recovery from addiction. A constant battle between what you know is true, a desire to make it out the other side, pitted against a society which views addicts – particularly women addicts – as moral hazards to be contained and controlled.”
Dara’s full article can be found here
Tell yourself you deserve a better life
As Dara says,
“Tell yourself you deserve a better life”
So if you are struggling with alcohol, beware the constant messages from society you are less than other people. You are a person who deserves compassion and respect as you deal with a problem.
Every single day, tell yourself you deserve a better life.
Photo courtesy of RSVP