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Phillip Love Rebecca Agosta English 1101 11/17/13 A Lapse into an Uncertain Recovery Identity is an individuals definition, regardless of any incorporated regulations or social status. The act of realizing a self-perceived model of representation of one self is critical to the full understanding of the person they truly come to be. As time passes, this critical self-analysis can be construed and altered from the original place of recognition. As Gee says it, using an analytical lens to support a higher knowledge of identity is important and goes beyond the typical race or gender identification. In his article, he establishes four different methods in order to clearly diagnose certain aspects to contrive an individuals self-recognition. Furthermore, full consummation of ones physical and social identity is imperative to initiate change. Each group of people has specific qualities that reflect the standards of social norms and tendencies to unify them through a central similarity. In addition, the groups perception of what is normal may show discontinuity with society. Alcoholism, classically characterized as a defect of character or moral weakness, is now more widely recognized and accepted as a disease (Holland 67). The newly defined sickness allows individuals to embody a new identity; one that carries the potential of detrimental effects on not only the individual, but also the sphere of inhabitants around them. A research study done in the 1950s labeled all heavier drugs, including heroin and cocaine, as unfit for society. Two of the drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, were concluded to have

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no adverse effects on the body and were placed under minimal social control. This social control gave buyers the false perception that consumption on a regular basis is acceptable, but in current day society is stigmatized for its addictive properties and abominable effects on the human body (Defining Substance Use Disorders). Holland states that addiction is labeled through problematic behavior and not on the amount consumed or the frequency of the abuse. Moreover, alcoholism is characterized through inappropriate behavior resulting from powerlessness to substance abuse. Alcohol abuse is one of the most abused substances in the world because of its social acceptance and integrated part of social interaction and adulthood. Although the majority of society enjoys alcohol, drunkenness is a learned behavior (Holland 67). Society has placed stigmas detailing certain parameters while consuming alcohol, and even though a person may be labeled as an alcoholic, they do not always accept the designated entitlement. A non-drinking alcoholic named Peggy (what is a non-drinking alcoholic) responded to how she stopped drinking in an interview: I married an alcoholic, it made me sick and drunk all the time. So I decided to quit. Ive been quit about 25 years. I dont know if I was even an alcoholic or not. Its just a habit. Its like drinking coffee and you think you have to have it all the time (Maxwell). This quote accurately demonstrates the cognitive function of an alcoholic because she remains under the false perception that she has power over her alcoholic tendencies. Although she is a non-drinking alcoholic, her words provide support to the theory behind the disease of alcoholism. Failure to accept the identity assigned to her brings apprehension about her newly found niche in society because she demonstrates the qualities of chemical dependency. Furthermore, Holland says in his alcoholics anonymous works that an alcoholic may choose to

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accept or decline the status they have earned, however, this does not change who they actually are within a community (Holland 68). In addition to being powerless to substance abuse, alcoholics tend to give alcohol priority over other things in their lives. One example is a quote from Ken Fowler in response to how he felt about his alcohol usage: My health was awful, my job sucked, but it didnt matter. I was diagnosed with massive ulcers in my stomach at age 16 that shouldve killed me. My parents didnt find out until I was throwing up blood one night in my room. I was defiant toward everyone. I could drink a half gallon before I even got up to pee. Was my alcohol tolerance extremely high? Yes. I was dark, disinterested, I didnt care. My wife did the same type of shit as me, we got along perfectly and lived the typical American dream. Married happily. Employed, creating mass amounts of debt because we didnt have any money. The only reason I worked was so I could have more money for alcohol and dope (Fowler). He goes on to explain that he was a binge drinker and drank 2-3 days per week, and would consume 25-50 beers in one sitting. He complimented his alcohol of choice by smoking an ounce of marijuana every two days, and he continued this daily routine for 12 years. In todays economy, this type of behavior would have cost around $645,000, which is more than enough money to support a family or to reclaim a substantial amount of debt. His alternative lifestyle led to destructive behavior that completely consumed him as a person. The construed depiction of alcoholism is a malevolent nuzzler to not only the individuals participating but extends to the people around them. The people surrounding them, particularly immediate family, feel the full force of alcohol as a lifestyle. In an interview with Peggy, she

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revealed that she would have parties on weeknights while the kids were trying to sleep for school the next day. She also included that random men would frequent the house while the children were home, and if she wanted to go out on a booze cruise then she would just pack the kids up and take them with her. Her husband did not want her to consume alcohol, a disagreement that stimulated their first divorce. She remained oblivious to the fact that her behavior was defective and caused resentment from her spouse and offspring (Maxwell). Although alcoholism is a reckless force that consumes millions of peoples lives annually, the possibility of escaping the stranglehold the substance exhibits on a persons life does exist. When an individual goes from a drinking alcoholic to a non-drinking alcoholic, their identity must be completely regenerated. They must learn to live in a sober world where every activities revolves around their sobriety. In order to get to the point where they can escape, two things must happen. Typically, an outside force must interact with the individual. Anything that makes an alcoholic realize their behavior is destructive is considered an outside force (Holland 68). For Ken, his wife was the outside force: One night when I drank a half gallon I went upstairs and picked up my newborn baby Bailey. I brought her downstairs and Christy threw a fit. Thats one of the only fights I can actually remember in our relationship, and she almost left me over it. I dont even know why she was so upset. It was only a half-gallon. But her reaction toward me made me realize that there was more to this world than just drinking and smoking and I quit right then (Fowler). The second thing that has to happen is the assembly of a new circle of friends. Ken says Sin seeks its own society. Water seeks its own level. You are who you hang out with (Fowler). This quote embodies one of the foundational principles of alcoholism. Although each person is

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inclined to make their own decisions, the people around them and the media they encounter have a heavy influence on their lives. By neglecting old friends with destructive behavior and joining a church group, Ken has successfully been recovering from alcoholism for 16 years, and has also managed to work his way up the ranks of the cooperate world. He began making minimum wage as an electrician, and he is now the vice CEO of a one hundred and twenty million dollar company. The people that mold a persons character are the people most closely associated with that person. Although Ken has had a successful life after escaping his alcoholism, the hiccups in his behavior have set him back about twelve years. He and Peggy both had non-drinking parents, so how did nature play a part in both of their lives? Their parents were both heavily Christian, giving them purpose for existence throughout their daily lives. Regardless of the healthfulness of the activity, whether its Christianity or alcoholism, a method to deviate attention away from daily life must be achieved. Their parents obsessions, Christianity and working, scripted their every movement, thought, and aspect of personal identity, predisposing each detail of their lives. In the same sense, alcoholism has dramatically altered the approach that both of our interviewees took at life. The obsession and easily ready arrangement of mind altering substances provided sufficient grounds to escape the stresses and hardships of daily living. Additionally, Gee proclaims that identity can be found by forces in nature (Gee 100). These natural forces, in this case their parents predisposition to obsession, caused for an unhealthy expedient that encapsulated their childrens lives. An experiment conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that genes are not the only determining factor on whether or not a patient will become an alcoholic. The article states that although certain genes may make a person more inclined to

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accept the practicing alcoholics identity, genetics only play a partial role in the development of substance abusers. A more prevalent determinate role following genetics is environmental factors and interactions (Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorders). Gee classifies these social interactions as the institutional identity and the discourse identity. These identities construct an alternative way to view the physical encounters taken on a daily basis between two people. In further detail, the institutional perspective helps to articulate a social perspective on the identities formed within forced institutions. As a twelve year old boy in a developed nation, the North Carolina Board of Education stripped his power over decisive interaction with his peers by placing him in a public school system. The years of primary education are notorious for eliciting exploration and self-discovery in a time of physical and psychological uncertainty. While high school remains the predominant experimentation phase of adolescence, middle school plays a large role in leading to the initial onset of various facets of attempted discovery that can be, and often are, destructive, such as drug use and alcohol. Even so, most middle school kids do not get involved in cutthroat behaviors until a new circle of friends has been found in their high school years. Ken, however, surrounded himself with a group that constantly found itself dappling into trouble and was already flirting with a destructive lifestyle. At such an early age, his malleable mind was easily changed on perception of serious topics, such as religion and his morals. His new group of friends captivated his life, enticing him to choose the lifestyle that led down a dangerous path of disinterest and darkness, which in turn almost cost him his life, family, wife, and job. A myriad of factors, including his own personal choice and the institutions placed around him, altered his way of thinking and offered him contemporary happiness as well as a recalibration of his direction in life.

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The circle of friends that consumes a persons life often determines the habits they form. The discourse perspective offers an alternative look at a persons environment, not formed by the institutions that were forced on an individual, but by the institutions and social surroundings that have been chosen by the participant (Gee 100). Peggys group of friends mimicked her exact behavior. As she describes her first time drinking, I think I was pregnant with Beverly, and my brother and dude, my sister, brought two quarts home. They told me to finish half of it and I threw half of it up. But I think I started... I dont know how I started (Maxwell). This quote demonstrates a formidable opponent of peer pressure and social pressure. Had she not surrounded herself with an atmosphere of constant drinking then she probably would not have fallen into the careless and abominable lifestyle that consumed her earlier years. Furthermore, embracement of a seamlessly sober exterior was forced upon Peggy as she continued on with her day to day life. Social pressure was not only prevalent in this case, but also in Kens case. He impressed upon me, Youre lucky you have someone like me. The people I surrounded myself with did the same type of shit. No one ever sat me down and told me I was a dumbass. I probably would have kicked them in the leg if they had. As stated previously, Ken describes it specifically as sin seeks its own society (Fowler). The character of a person can typically be interpreted by the type of people they surround themselves with. If a person associates with only alcoholics, then the probability of corresponding behavior is expected. In addition, people are viewed, judged, and labeled by others at any given time, and in an attempt to circumnavigate the fears of social reproach, a false persona of I dont give a damn (Fowler), is unintentionally embraced. Upon recognition of a newly developed identity placed upon an individual, an alcoholic may decide to revise the previous observation conducted by their peers. An affinity group, such

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as alcoholics anonymous, is an alternative method to cope with alcoholism, and offers a new sense of unity characterized by the title alcoholic. A sense of unity is applied within this group in order to consciously aid in reestablishing diseased alcoholics into a lifestyle of productivity and sobriety. Within the group, a figured world is created in which an identity must be constructed and its moral and aesthetic distinction must be made into personal knowledge (Holland 69). Additionally, the group helps to construct an established and morphed way of thinking into an alcoholic, which aids them in the recovery process. Everything that happens must be centered on contributing back into a sober lifestyle, such as getting into the workforce or raising children the proper way. The group goes beyond creating a new and sober atmosphere, but it unites individuals all struggling with achievement over substance abuse, and composes a new ambiance of success and freedom from a shackling addiction. Whether explicitly stated or hidden behind intricately construed facades, the vast majority of the human population knows of an individual suffering from alcoholism. The disease itself wrecks havoc on the lives of not only the affected individuals, but also on those whose lives they touch. Mass media brings hyper attention to alcoholic related deaths and incidents, but the population as a whole consistently grows immune to the tragic occurrences as someone may cease hearing the continuous ticking of a clock. In essence, alcoholism has unintentionally fallen prey to habituation. The drug streaks the events of history and has therefore always been a common factor to the lives of people around the world. However, the fact remains that the substance is a drug and can have adverse affects on a number of participants who begin relying too heavily of the readily available crutch. With the ease of accessibility and intoxicating release from the hardships of life, alcohol remains a ready and familiar friend to those who allow it precedence in their lives. Nevertheless, the ugly nature of the drug cannot lie dormant forever

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and unavoidably strips individuals of their rights to personal freedom and sound life decisions. Those who break free from the unrelenting clench of Captain Morgan, Jack Daniels, and the other contending arbitrators of the hapless individuals deserve no more than unshielded approbation for their victory over the disease. Alcohol plays a convincing supportive role but, as many slowly discover, dually acts as the reaper of human lives.

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Works Cited "Defining Substance Use Disorders: Do We Really Need More Than Heavy Use?." Alcohol and Alcoholism. 48.6 (2013): 633-640. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. <>. Fowler, Ken. Personal Interview. 24 Oct 2013. Gee, James. "Identity as an Analytic Lens for Research in Education." American Educational Research Association. Volume 25. (2000): 99-125. Print. "Genetics of Alcohol Use Disorders." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. AR&H, n.d. Web. 17 Nov 2013. <>. Holland, Dorothy. Personal Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous. 66-97. Print. Maxwell, Peggy. Personal Interview. 17 Oct 2013.