There seems to be a perpetual debate in the recovery community about whether a person is “recovered” or “recovering”. Even some people who have worked and continue to work the Steps seem to think one should never say “recovered”. They say this despite the fact that written on the cover page of the Basic Text of Alcoholics Anonymous is the statement:
The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism.
Altogether the word recovered is used 16 times in the Big Book. As those of us who study the Big Book know Bill Wilson’s prose was not willy-nilly. Wilson did chose the word recovered just because it sounded good.
You might say, “tomato – tomahto”, that I’m just arguing semantics. However, it’s no such thing. Alcoholics Anonymous (and all 12 Step Fellowships) are there to offer hope to the newcomer. When I say I’m recovered I’m showing the newcomer that there is an end game to the chaotic rollercoaster that is his/her life of addiction. Using the wording recovering gives the impression that there is no end in site. Why would I want to embark on a journey that offered no pay off? The pay off of the 12 Steps of Recovery is that I will no longer be obsessed over my addiction.
I am a recovered alcoholic/addict. I have lost the obsession to drink and use mind-altering substances. My life is no longer unmanageable. I go where I want, when I want, with no fear that I will take a drink and/or drug. I am free. I have been, “rocketed into a fourth dimension” (Big Book, 1939) that has allowed me the freedom to do so. Prior to having the spiritual awakening as a result of working and completing the 12 Steps of recovery I had no freedom. I had lost the power of choice when it came to drinking/drugging. My whole life revolved around getting rid of my restlessness, irritability and discontentment through the use of alcohol/drugs. Now that I am recovered I am not longer a slave to the master of alcohol/drugs. I have the freedom to make choices not based on an obsession to obtain and use mind-altering substances. I have the freedom to accept the consequences my choices have – regardless of them being positive or negative consequences. And if they happen to be negative consequences I have the freedom to deal them in a healthy way rather than trying to escape them.
Don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying I have been cured of my addiction. What I am saying is that I have put my disease into remission. As the Big Book says I have a, “daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of [my] spiritual condition”. Which means I must continue to work the Steps into my daily life. I am recovered from this, “seemingly hopeless condition of mind and body” (Big Book, 1939), as long as I continue to Trust God – Clean House – Help Others.