The Monument Glossary: Why The Words We Use Matter

By Team Monument

How we talk about our relationship with alcohol matters. Why? Oftentimes, conversations around drinking lack inclusivity and scientific accuracy, creating stigma and barriers to treatment. Education and encouragement are critical to changing the narrative.

At Monument, we provide accessible, evidence-based online alcohol treatment to change your drinking on your own terms. And our language reflects that. 

Here’s a glossary of terms you can expect to find on our platform, and language you won’t be seeing from us. If you identify with words that we don’t use and they’re working for you, keep at it. While you might not see them here at Monument, we support you in whatever feels most empowering. 

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Click through to learn more about what we don’t say, and why we use these terms instead.

Changing Your Relationship with Alcohol
…Instead of “Get Sober”

Changing your relationship with alcohol means something different to everyone, and our goals can change over time. It can’t be defined by a single outcome or objective. For some, that means cutting back. For others, that means cutting out alcohol entirely. We all relate to alcohol in a different way, and how we choose to create distance is personal, too. Further reading: How to psychologically distance yourself from people … and alcohol.

Alcohol Use Disorder
…Instead of “Alcoholism or Drinking Problem”

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition characterized by drinking more than you want and for longer than you want, despite wanting to cut down. AUD can be clinically diagnosed based on the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 manual, and can be treated with a medical solution. Further reading: Everything You Need To Know About ‘Alcohol Use Disorder’ And Its Signs

AF (Alcohol-Free) Cocktail
…Instead of “Mocktail” 

Mock (mäk); adjective: not authentic or real, but without the intention to deceive. “Mocktail” insinuates that it’s a knock-off version of a cocktail. Alcohol-free beverages are not any less of a drink than one with liquor or high ABV%. AF Cocktails are their own category, and deserve a full spread across every menu. Further reading: Delish AF 

Medical Condition
…Instead of “Moral Failing” 

Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition, not a reflection of moral character. We use evidence-based treatment to provide holistic care: with therapy, medication, and community. A medical condition deserves to be treated with a medical solution, without any shame or stigma. Further reading: Alcohol Use Disorder Is A Medical Problem. Here’s Our Medical Solution.

Non-Linear Journey
…Instead of “Relapse or Failure”

 Everyone’s path is unique, and setbacks don’t erase our progress or define our journey. We believe in working toward goals to develop a healthier relationship with alcohol. Our journey’s are often nonlinear, and we always hold the potential to achieve our goals. Further reading: Exercises To Achieve Your Ideal Self  

Moderating
…Instead of “Still Drinking”

In many traditional programs, there’s a one-size-fits-all goal: total abstinence. If someone is drinking less, they’re seen as “still drinking.” We believe reducing your alcohol intake through moderation can either be a great way to live a healthier life, or a great step toward sobriety, depending on your needs. Further reading: Can I Drink In Moderation? Ask Yourself These Questions

Progress
…Instead of “Perfection”

Expecting perfection in anything can quickly cause us to feel shame and discouragement, and abandon our goals altogether. We are only human, and can still make long-lasting lifestyle changes without a 100% success rate. We prioritize long-term progress over short-term perfection every time. Further reading: The Value (And Traps) Of Resolution Setting

Something To Be Proud Of
…Instead of “Something To Be Ashamed Of”

Changing your relationship with alcohol is something to be proud of. Hey, it might even become your superpower. Drinking less can bring you more clarity, confidence, connection, and so much more. Like any other medical condition, alcohol use disorder isn’t something to be ashamed of. And addressing it is quite the opposite. Further reading: The Sobriety Gift Guide: 11 Ways Drinking Less Gives You More

Recovery (sometimes)
…Instead of Recovery (all the time)

Recovery can mean the process of combating a disorder, regaining strength, getting back something that’s been lost, and more. Many folks who are sober identify with the word, and many people don’t. You might see it in some spaces at Monument, but if you don’t identify as in recovery, that is 100% valid, and you are not alone. Further reading: How To Tell People You’re Getting Treatment To Change Your Drinking 

Your Name
…Instead of labels like “Alcoholic or Addict”

Drinking is something we do (behavior), not who we are (character). And it’s something we can change. Our drinking does not define us. We will call you by your name (or username!), or however you choose to identify. Further reading: Navigating the early recovery identity crisis

We envision a new, stigma-free, culture around alcohol use disorder. We hope you’ll join us in changing the conversation.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

About the Author

Team MonumentMonument is an online platform for those looking to change their relationship with alcohol. We connect members to a free anonymous community, therapist-moderated groups, and a collection of resources to provide the support and information they deserve. Members seeking medical treatment are introduced to a licensed physician and a specialized therapist to develop a personalized treatment plan specific to their goals. Monument is affordable, accessible, and research-based, so a healthy relationship with alcohol is attainable and celebrated by all.