There’s no shame in being in recovery. Wearing the badge of sobriety marks you as a survivor- and more than that, a warrior fighting a battle that many before you have not survived. It is something people in recovery should be proud of, something to celebrate. While some dark and unsavory things may lay in our past, those things were the stepping stones for where we are today. You may still have a long way to go, but look at how far you’ve come.
Still, even though being in recovery is the greatest gift you can give yourself, it can be a little annoying- especially when talking to people outside of the recovery community about it. Here are 15 things people in recovery are tired of hearing:
#1: “So… you’re okay, now?”
This one may be well-meaning, but it’s kind of a backhanded insult. It’s as if to say recovery and sober living magically banished some crazed demon from your body and you’ll never struggle or have issues again. While it would be great if that were true, that’s just not the reality of addiction. It is a disease- a chronic one. You can’t cure addiction with a dose of penicillin or some Vitamin D.
Yes, your worst day in recovery is better than your best in active addiction, but this is still a daily journey. If they’re truly concerned about your well-being and your continued progress, ask them to help by being a part of your support system.
#2: “Glad that phase is over!”
From a backhanded insult to an outright one! People in recovery know that addiction isn’t some phase of childhood rebellion or attention seeking. While it may have begun as youthful experimentation, substance abuse is a symptom of deeper pain and disorder. Flippantly disregarding that fact and labelling it a phase shows that person doesn’t understand what addiction really is and possibly that they don’t care to know.
At this point there are two ways you can respond: if you think it would beneficial, you can educate them about the realities of addiction, including the biochemical changes in your brain caused by the disorder and what it takes to be in recovery. Or- and for some cases, this could be the best option- you can walk away. Don’t waste your energy on people who are committed to misunderstanding you.
#3: “You’re just going to go back to it anyway.”
Tell me: who exactly is this helpful for? In what way does undermining someone’s hard work and dedication to self-improvement help anyone? Yes, for some relapse is a part of the journey, but declaring that it is an inevitability is simply not true. Anyone who could say this to people in recovery is not ally. This is a giant red flag that this person does not deserve a spot in your future.
And because I know you’re thinking it: no, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve relapsed in the past or back out of treatment before. Those things have no bearings on your future once you’re truly committed to sobriety. Holding your past against you is no way to help you reach your goals in your future. This isn’t “tough love” and you don’t have to put up with it.
#4: “I never thought you’d actually do it!”
This is just a slightly kinder way of saying the same thing as above. People in recovery already have to work through enough self-doubt about getting clean and sober without this kind of negative input. This is one of those things you hear and say “…thank you…?” because you’re pretty sure you’ve just been insulted. And you have.
To be fair, I don’t think people who say this realize how offensive they’re being. It’s kind of like saying “I never thought you’d graduate!” or “I never thought you’d find a job!” If you want to be cheeky, try throwing one of those back at them (just don’t say I told you to, okay?)
#5: “Well, is it okay if I still drink/use?”
Part of the recovery process is recognizing the negative influences in your life that might hinder your recovery. People who are still active in their addiction are usually at the top of this list, but it can be hard to cut them off- especially if you still love and care for them. This is where keeping your recovery as a priority kicks in: if they’re behavior and habits out you at risk for relapse, it’s probably best to keep your distance. You don’t have to hate them. Just let it be known that as long as they prioritize their addiction over your relationship, you can’t have them around.
As people in recovery, we know that addiction is selfish. Sometimes, recovery has to be, too.