What does it mean to be in recovery? 



Whether you like it, or not, you’re in it.

The term recovery, is one with an admittedly harsh stigma. When you share that label, that modifier, that statement, “I’m in recovery” a cornucopia of strange emotions arise. Whether it be judgment, pity, scorn, resentment or envy- it is a statement that almost always causes some sort of reaction.

But what does being in recovery actually mean? I mean really, what is it that prompts us to make a distinction between humans?


To employ typical colloquialisms, I will direct you to good ‘ol Merriam Webster. The collective consciousness that is Webster defines recovery as: the act, process, or an instance of recovering: the process of combating a disorder (such as alcoholism) or a real or perceived problem.

The point? That recovery isn’t exclusively meant to point towards those who have had a history of substance use. That recovery, simply means to recover. To get better. That’s it. Isn’t that what we are all doing? Recovering in one form or another, from a perceived problem?

So where does the stigma come from? In my experience, the stigma comes from a comparison. A comparison that someone getting better after battling substance use, is somehow less than someone recovering from any other problem. Comparison, as we know, causes serious insecurities and disheartening disconnection.

It is no secret, that the stigma associated with substance use is still prominent in America. This prominence continues to create barriers to treatment for those that need help, and they are dying. 115 people die every day from opioid overdoses alone in the United States, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Some of us, are lucky enough to make it out alive, and to pin that label on ourselves with pride. Truly no different than a cancer survivor proudly proclaiming that they’ve won the battle and are in remission. The term recovery denotes that we have won, we have made it out alive and we are committed to being our best selves.

Resiliency is the innate nature of us magical human beings. We are all growing, changing, improving, recovering. Whether we are recovering from cancer, substance use, depression, heartbreak, grief, anxiety or hopelessness. I would venture to say that we are, as a collective, recovering. We as a society are getting better, every day.


What if we took away that judgment, around substance use recovery; Afterall it is just a word.

What did you think?

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