Understanding addiction can be complicated enough, but getting sober can also seem like you’re learning a new language entirely. You may hear some say that they are sober, while others say that they are in recovery or recovered. Still, others will refer to themselves as an alcoholic or an addict. But what does that mean? What is the definition of recovery from addiction? It depends on who you ask. How should you refer to yourself when you stop using drugs? There are likely as many answers to that question as people you ask, and, in the end, it’s a personal decision.
What Is Recovery From Addiction?
If we define recovery as a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength, then the definition of recovery from addiction would be a return to a state of health or mind without using substances or behaviors that we misused. But even that may not be the best definition depending on when your substance abuse began. For those who start turning to drugs early in life, recovery might be more of a discovery of a state of health or mind without using substances. Whether we’re talking about a return or a discovery, the point is that we’re living without using substances to cope with life. Recovery from addiction is, in essence, learning how to live life without using substances as our coping mechanism.
What Does It Mean to Be in Recovery?
One of the most interesting aspects of being in recovery is that there is no time requirement and no time limit. If you commit to stop using drugs today, you are in recovery. Likewise, if you quit using drugs twenty years ago, you are still in recovery. Recovery is ongoing and lasts as long as you are living. The only price of admission is not using drugs or alcohol. Whether you refer to yourself as sober, in recovery, or recovered is not so important as you’re doing the work you need to do to stay clean. No one can tell you what to call yourself or how to define your recovery. It is your choice.
While this freedom in creating your own recovery identity can be exciting, it can also create confusion. Treatment for a medical problem and the ensuing results can often be more simple than addiction treatment. In recovery, there is no x-ray to check to see if the treatment has worked. While yes, we can be screened to see if we have used, much of recovery work is done on the inside. The results will not show up in your urine or your blood. Instead, the results will show up in you and your life.
Another interesting part of being in recovery is that it can be called so many different things. There are so many different ways to describe your recovery from drugs and alcohol. Here are just a few examples of how you might describe yourself:
I’m in recovery
I’m an addict in recovery
I’m clean and sober
I’m a recovered addict
I’m a recovering addict.
The beauty is that all of those statements add up to the same thing as long as you’re not using and you get to choose. It is a part of owning your recovery.