Words carry a lot of power, especially to anyone who has battled substance, gambling or sex addiction. Most support groups are aware of how certain things can turn people right back to a relapse, and how some “trigger words” can entice addiction back to life and are best avoided in the context of therapy and support networks.

Are you a recovering addict, or are you committed to be an abstaining one instead?

Abstinence & Recovery: How Knowing the Difference Can Save Your Life

The two words Abstinence & Recovery don’t mean the same thing, and what you refer to yourself as could have a big impact on how you view where you’re going with your future.

Abstinence versus Recovery

Recovery is a term commonly used by ex-addicts. They will usually call themselves “recovered addicts” or “recovering addicts” – and just for the record, there’s nothing wrong with this. But there is a more powerful way of being able to look at it. Calling yourself a recovering addict means that you could be too focused on the recovery process, and for many people, this becomes a reminder to the behavior tied to things that happened before their recovery.

But calling yourself an “abstaining addict” just sounds different, doesn’t it? It means that you abstain: Completely, end of sentence. Full stop. Abstaining addict sounds more final than recovering, and viewing your recovery process in this way can help you to achieve a form of finality and closure on your previous addictions that the term “recovering addict” can’t give you.

Recovery Could Mean Relapse, Abstinence Gives Closure

If you’re recovering, you could still relapse, right? But if you’re abstaining, you’re abstaining.

Viewing your recovery process in this way – and responding as such when people ask you – might provide you with the closure you need to move on and never as much as think about your addiction again for the rest of your life.

What’s more powerful between these two sentences?

  1. “I’m a recovering alcoholic who doesn’t drink anymore.”
  2. “I abstain from alcohol. I don’t drink.”

The second one carries a little bit more punch.

Additionally, it’s very common for ex-addicts to feel uncomfortable about voicing their addictions: Especially in the early stages, they might not want to talk about it with friends or colleagues – and certainly not with someone they had just met.

Answering as “abstaining” and leaving out the word “anymore” means that people are less likely to ask questions or prompt you to recount anything, ensuring that your recovery process is much more private – and could be more effective.


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This is a real-deal program designed for people that are truly, deeply ready to change. First, it medically frees you from those uncontrollable urges and cravings to drink or use opioids, while blocking their pleasure effects as well. That ‘obsession’ that rules our lives completely loses its grip. Now, we work together to uncover and discover the causes that led to this madness, and more importantly, what it takes to live a happy, fulfilling life free and clear of alcohol and drugs…for good.

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