Is There Such A Thing As A 'Recovered Alcoholic'?
In the recovery community, it is very common to refer to a person who is sober as "recovering," regardless of how long they have been sober for. Some people, both in the recovery community and outside of it, may wonder whether this is an appropriate term, since it may seem in the instance of a person who has not had alcohol for a very long time that they are no longer recovering but recovered.
This has led many people to pose the question of whether there exists a person who is actually a recovered alcoholic.
Alcoholism is a Lifetime Disease
The reason that most people do not agree with the term recovered alcoholic is that alcoholism is a disease and it is a disease for which there is not cure. When a person is an alcoholic, they must generally abstain from drinking for the rest of their lives, or they will be at serious risk for engaging in dangerous behavior when it comes to consuming alcohol. A person who is addicted to alcohol has had their brain chemistry permanently altered so that the brain's reward center behaves a certain way when it is exposed to alcohol. The brain will, generally, behave this way over the course of a person's entire life, regardless of how long they have gone without a drink.
Sobriety Gets Easier
When people speak of a recovered alcoholic, what they may be referring to is the fact that for many recovering alcoholics, the temptation to drink greatly diminishes with time. There is no doubt that the longer a person works at their sobriety and the more they cultivate the recovery tools available to them, the easier it will be for them to resist the temptation to use. Perhaps more importantly, most sober people find that the longer they have been sober, the more they truly enjoy and appreciate all of the wonderful benefits that sobriety has to offer. A person who has been sober for many years certainly generally feels that they enjoy sobriety and would in fact much rather be sober than drunk.
Temptation Can Arise at Any Point
One major reason that many addiction experts and counselors are hesitant to use the phrase recovered is that the phrase recovered implies that a person's alcoholism has been cured and seems to infer that at no point will that person experience triggers or a desire to drink. The fact of the matter is that the urge to drink can certainly occur at any time, and even if a person has gone years and even decades without drinking, life events or emotional states may suddenly lead a person to a place where they feel a desire to drink. This is why it is important to continue to cultivate sobriety, even when the temptations to use are few and far between. There is no telling when an urge to use may occur and the best and most important defense against these urges is a strong and well practiced resolve to use healthy ways of dealing with triggers.
Sobriety is About Growing
Just as people never stop evolving, the life of a sober person never stops being more rich and more full of self discovery. One of the great benefits of sobriety is that it allows a recovering addict to make incredible discoveries about himself. In this way, a sober person is always recovering because they are always looking for new ways to be a happier, healthier, and more loving person. Sobriety certainly gets easier with practice, but it is certainly an ongoing journey, and that is one thing that makes it great.