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I was recently asked by someone to be a panelist for a community forum. I had been recommended by someone and I was grateful for the opportunity. I’ve become very comfortable sharing my story in these settings and with the media, so I assumed it was just like any other panel I had been on. I enjoy having the opportunity to share my story of recovery and reflect on my past in active addiction. However, this invitation was different.
The other panelists were strictly law enforcement and members of CT Department of Corrections. The moderator had asked me for a short biography and had asked me what my “title” would be. Before he gave me the opportunity to speak, he said to me, “So I’m listing you as ‘Allison, an Addict’, that works, right?”
I chuckled and responded, “No sir, that doesn’t work. Please list me as ‘Allison, a Person in Recovery’.”
Advocates across the world have been working diligently to change the language of addicts and addiction. I understand that some people still refer themselves as addicts, but that doesn’t sit well with me. Yes, I have the disease of addiction that is constantly trying to bring me back to active addiction mode, but when I say that I’m an addict, it makes it seem as if I’m still actively using. When I say that I’m a person in recovery, it makes it sound much more positive. I still have behaviors of an active addict that can flare, but I don’t allow myself to stay “stuck” in that place.
I’m constantly a working progress and I’m always open to learn new ways to cope with my addiction. I’ve always been an optimistic person and I’m no longer in the deep depression that my addiction brought me to. So to say that I’m an “addict” brought me back to that depressed state. When I say that I’m a person in recovery, I’m able to feel as if I’m constantly striving to silent my addiction and encourage recovery.
I’m open to however people identify themselves. The beauty of recovery and life is that we can get to a place where we gain enough confidence to be able to form our own identity. I am confident and comfortable today to be able to introduce myself as a person in recovery.
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