Ask any number of recovering addicts and they will agree, anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public law. Everything single you say is subject to scrutiny and for some reason, everything circles back to the addiction: no matter how you try to evade it. People don't care how far you've come, how long you've been sober, or how successful you have risen, there is always someone ready to pounce at the first chance to bring up the past.
A question was posed to me recently, and I feel strongly the answer is, 'no'. Someone recently asked, 'if someone has been sober for over five years, do you still call them an addict?'. The acceptable answer in recovery is that 'yes they are still addicts,' although I am still unsure.
Perhaps, 'former addict' is a more accurate depiction for someone sober for the long term. I've talked briefly about this in an early blog, Is Addiction A Life Sentence? where I debate the same topic.
If you are a runner, and you run every day of your life until some terrible knee injury that changes your life, people don't still call you a runner.
In the same light, when a doctor retires, he is, at the end of the day still a doctor.
Either could be said for addicts as well;
- they don't use anymore, therefore they aren't addicts anymore
- once an addict always an addict
I see both sides to this coin.
Is there a solution?
There doesn't seem to be an obvious solution for this minor hang up and it really is minor. Although it does bring to light the afterthought addicts seem to be as a whole when such petty things can't be settled. This triviality matters little when no one even wants to talk about or help us.
What you choose to call us matters even less if you ignore our existence and addictions entirely.
Maybe once we focus on helping addicts, former addicts, and/or recovering addicts, we will figure out the technicalities later.
Fill in the blank
The whole time we sit and debate whether or not those of us are ex, former, recovering, or just plane addicts, it doesn't really matter. People are going to call you whatever they want, and say whatever they want to say, regardless of vernacular or manners. (Remember those things?) They have every right to do so, as much as it sucks, so let it roll off your back.
You have overcome so much already in your battle with addiction, that the opinions of outsiders shouldn't cause you any unrest.
Of all the names they call you, the most important one is 'STRONG'; especially on the sober side!