Addiction recovery basics: recovered or recovering?

In the 12 step rooms of programs like A.A., addiction recovery basics dictate that we break the cycle of denial and call ourselves alcoholics or addicts. But is it healthy to continue to identify and reinforce this type of self-definition after years of sobriety? We ask questions about the assumptions of addiction recovery basics here.

minute read

A state of mind

One thing that bothers me about 12 step groups is the focus that the group-mind puts on the state of “being an addict”.

1. First, there is the introduction.  My name is Lee, and I am an addict/alcoholic.
2. Then there is the literature. People can get really self-righteous about the “program of recovery”, quoting passages about once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.  If you identify as being “in recovery”, you can find quotes ad infinitum to support your point of view.
3. Finally, there are the sayings:
– Some of us are sicker than others
– We’re all here because we’re not all there
– Sobriety is a journey, not a destination

What bothers me about this state of mind is that it is a perpetual cycle of putting yourself down.  When you believe and reinforce these beliefs by repeating phrases out loud, the brain reinforces the neural pathways to strengthen the beliefs.  And we end up living in a state of addiction, or at least being reminded of it, most of the time.

Am I an addict?

Well, yes.  But do I need to reinforce this identity?  Do I need to hold on to the past?  Does my ego need such deflating that I put myself into a category of “hopelessly lost”.  No, no and no.

Are you recovered?

I don’t believe that I need to reinforce an alcoholic-addict identity because I believe that I am RECOVERED from the illness of body and mind.  Although recovery from drug addiction, alcoholism or behavioral addictions (food, sex, internet, gambling) is a process…I believe that there is an endpoint.  A point when you need to move on from the identity of being an alcoholic, and moving on to being an ex-problem drinker.  A point when you say that it’s no longer healthy to keep holding on to the past, and work towards a new identity.


What do you think? Are you recovered or recovering? Do you have to identify with your past in order to move forward and develop a deeper understanding of life with your fellows and with the big G-O-D?

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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