Being “in recovery” can mean different things, depending on who you ask. For the most part, it means someone who has had a past that consisted of behavior fitting a substance use disorder diagnosis.
Yes, we know that is vague. The good part is that people are starting to pay more attention to language in treatment and recovery, and they’re dropping words or classifications that paint people in a more negative light, such as using words like addict, alcoholic, junkie, tweaker, etc.
Long Term Recovery
More people now are using the identifier as a person in long term recovery rather than calling themselves addicts or alcoholics. There are some who still prefer the other terms, or use them out of habit or convenience, but identifying with healthier labels often has a more positive result.
More people are also accepting of the term or idea of being recovered, as in no longer in recovery. This points to the fact that a large percentage of people in the United States have fallen into a substance use disorder diagnostic criteria at some point in their lives, yet no longer exhibit any symptoms or behaviors and wouldn’t consider themselves in recovery.
Reducing the Stigma
By changing some of the language around being in recovery, advocates continue to work to reduce the stigma associated with addiction and substance use disorders. The idea is not to normalize the destructive behavior, but instead to not treat people who have or had issues as being societal outcasts. After all, most of us have had some issue in the past or have had a close friend or family member who has.
Can Someone in Recovery Still Drink Alcohol?
Most treatment professionals and recovery support people would not advocate for someone in recovery to drink alcohol. At the same time, there are plenty of people who do drink moderately after having gone through treatment, and is why recovery support groups such as moderation management exist. The most difficult part for people in recovery is to manage the cravings, lowered inhibitions and poor decision making that can occur with the consumption of alcohol. Many people who formerly used other drugs cite their drinking alcohol as a catalyst for their return to using their previous drug of choice as well.