Are Alcoholics And Addicts Ever Truly Recovered?

Alcoholics and addicts in 12-step programs sometimes introduce themselves along with the phrase “I am a recovering alcoholic” or “I am a recovering addict.” Occasionally you instead hear someone say “I am a recovered alcoholic” or “I am a recovered addict.”

What is the difference between recovered and recovering? Is it just words? Or is the subtle difference between the two words significant?

Difference Between Recovered And Recovering

Like many aspects of recovery, there are differences of opinion about this. The word recovered has an aura of finality about it, an implication that you have arrived at your destination, whereas the word recovering sounds more like you are still a work in progress and aware that there is more to learn.

Recovered – And Cured?

Recovered or Recovering - ChristianDrugRehab.comThe word “recovered” implies that alcoholism and addiction are a thing of the past. It implies that you used to drink and drug, but now you don’t. It implies that the problem has gone away.

But has it gone away completely?

Many people are able to successfully stay away from alcohol or drugs even though they have a history of substance abuse. Signs and symptoms of addiction or drug abuse are no longer apparent. They may have been able to change from leading a pretty dysfunctional life into someone who can get up and go to work every day or have caring relationships with other people.

But can they claim they have permanently recovered?

If you were truly recovered or cured from the disease of addiction, you would probably be able to go back to drinking in moderation. Whatever it was that made you go overboard every time you picked up a drink in the past would be gone.

You can’t know for sure that you’ll ever be able to drink again in moderation based on things you have learned through therapy or other methods of recovery. You can’t know for sure that you won’t relapse, even after many years of sobriety.

What you are experiencing while sober is more of a remission than a cure. Your disease has been arrested, but it hasn’t gone away.

Recovering – And Still Sick?

Many people think of recovery as a process. It’s a journey, not a destination. They say they are “in recovery” or “recovering.”

To someone who is not familiar with recovery programs, a person who says they are recovering sounds like they are struggling. They may appear to be trying to learn how to stay away from a drink or a drug, even after many years of sobriety.

To say you are recovering is to admit that you are never fully recovered or cured. There is always the threat of relapse, and growth and recovery are a continuing process.

Some people don’t like this concept. They object to the implication that they are continually recovering. Referring to recovery as an ongoing process makes them feel like they are supposed to think of themselves as a sick person. It sounds like they have to focus on the disease at all times rather than focus on the part of them that has gotten better.

Recovering And Getting Better All The Time

Learning to live sober isn’t much different than learning to live in general. We are continually being presented with new challenges that we have never faced before, and we have to learn to do what it takes to face them. The more we practice, the better we get at facing whatever is put in front of us. This includes the challenge of living life without picking up a drink or a drug no matter what happens. New and different things are happening all the time, so we are still always learning and recovering.

The words you choose aren’t as important as your decision to be committed to your journey of recovery. Even if you prefer to call yourself “recovered,” you have to remain aware that relapse is a possibility if you don’t keep reminding yourself of the dangers of addiction and the reasons you are choosing not to drink or drug today. You can’t pretend you are ever completely cured.

Choosing between the words “recovered” or “recovering” is a personal decision. Like many aspects of recovery, you have to find what works for you.

Just Take Your Recovery One Day At A Time & Remember, You Are Never Alone…
God Is Always With You & He’s Always Listening