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What Does “Teetotal” Mean?

by Landmark Recovery

November 3, 2023
What is teetotal

The term “teetotal” often appears in discussions about alcohol consumption. So, what does it really mean? This article explores the meaning of teetotalism, its historical background, and its significance for some of those pursuing a life of recovery.

What is Teetotal?

Teetotalism means complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages. People call someone who practices teetotalism a “teetotaler.” Unlike casual or moderate drinkers, teetotalers decide to avoid alcohol for health, religious, or personal reasons.

Not all of those in recovery are teetotalers, nor is it a requirement of being in recovery. Many do choose to remain abstinent of alcohol, however, in order to prevent a relapse or problem behavior.

The History Behind “Teetotal” Movements

People believe the term “teetotal” originated in the 19th-century temperance movements in the UK and the US. These movements promoted reduced alcohol consumption or complete abstinence. Richard Turner, a British advocate of the temperance movement, reportedly coined the word. The “tee” in “teetotal” emphasizes “total,” meaning absolute abstinence instead of moderate drinking.

Share of population who never drink alcohol, 2016

Share of population who never drink alcohol, 2016 – courtesy of Our World In Data and the WHO

Reasons Someone Might Choose Teetotalism or Abstinence

Health Benefits

Many choose teetotalism for health reasons. Not drinking alcohol can improve liver function, reduce blood pressure, and decrease the risk of alcohol-related diseases.

Religious or Personal Beliefs

Some make this decision based on religious beliefs that forbid intoxicating substances. Others avoid alcohol due to a past history of substance misuse or to support a loved one’s recovery journey.

Mental and Emotional Benefits

Not drinking can also enhance mental clarity and emotional stability. These factors are crucial, especially for those on a recovery journey.

Difference Between Teetotal and Recovery

Teetotalism means abstaining from alcohol, while recovery refers to the broader journey of overcoming substance misuse, which can include alcohol. Recovery might involve therapy, emotional support, and sometimes medications to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Saying no to alcohol is a part of what makes teetotalism a useful form of abstinence

Saying no to alcohol is a part of what makes teetotalism a useful form of abstinence

Not Just a Lifestyle Choice

Teetotalism isn’t just a lifestyle choice; it can be a vital part of one’s recovery journey. Understanding this term helps individuals make informed decisions about their relationship with alcohol.

If you or a loved one face substance misuse challenges, Landmark Recovery can guide you towards recovery. Our personalized treatment programs offer various services. Choose a healthier future now.

Take Action

Are you ready to start your recovery journey? Call Landmark Recovery at 888-448-0302 to discuss tailored treatment options with our specialists.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.