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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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2 Replies to “I’m Not an Addict; I’m a Person In Recovery”
As a person in recovery I think the distinction between words is an important step in removing the stigma that comes along with certain labels. While to a panel moderator we may be “an addict” we are certainly much more than any single label. By changing the way you are labeled you put the word “person” back in there. Its important that people remember we are people first, with many talents and flaws, and in recovery second. We are more than our actions. Just as much as we are more than our successes, we are more than our mistakes as well, more than the burdens we carry. So to say you are a person in recovery does more than just remind people we arent who we once were but also that we are people. Fellow humans who happen to be carrying a heavy burden. That burden doesnt need to be made any heavier by the stigma and judgement of society thats for sure.
From one addict to another, I love you and thank you for the work you do on behalf of all of us people out there who are fighting this fight.
Keep up the good work!!
Every event that you speak at seems to be a very unique experience. You really learn so much from each opportunity and I like all that you take away from each one. A lot of people dont understand the power of words… not just in recovery, not just in mental health, but in general. If there is one thing that we have in this world, it’s the words that come out of our mouths so people need to pay more attention to that idea.
You are most certainly a person in recovery and you’re wearing it very well. I lvoe your approach and the way that you stand up for yourself. Your small, minor correction to the moderator made such a big difference. Not only to you but to them, and the others that they will interact with. Now they know better. Recovery is a positive thing and the words that we use should always embody that.
Literally taking this quote with me KJK, “just as much as we are more than our successes, we are more than our mistakes as well.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!