Semantics Are Important

     Sort of an interesting comment recently about recovering vs. recovered. The assertion was that whether we used the term ‘recovered’ or ‘recovering’ was merely semantics. Now, needless to say, if what you’re doing works, then great. However, my specific use of the two terms describe two totally separate conditions, and as such, is anything but a cursory study of semantics. This often happens where someone just looks at the title of a post and quickly replies before actually comprehending it.

     The majority of people who “join” AA, go to meetings, and relapse chronically are certainly not recovered, and therefore, we wouldn’t choose to use that term if we’re still owned by our alcoholism or addiction. To note, many people in AA are not alcoholics anyway, and in that case, neither term is relevant.

     When I say recovered, I am using the term to describe being free from the mental obsession. In other words, a recovered person no longer suffers from thoughts to drink or use. When I use the term recovering, I am sadly referring to the more common state of still suffering from the mental obsession and therefore subject to relapse at any moment. Thus, to be recovered is an entirely different condition than being recovering, if we use those terms to describe the above two conditions. A recovered man is sane; a recovering man is still very much insane.

     The comment also described being recovered as including freedom from both the mental obsession and the physical allergy. If you are recovered from the physical allergy to drugs and alcohol, that would imply you can drink or use normally, moderately and recreationally, like a normal person. So if you don’t have the allergy, then you’re not an alcoholic or a drug addict, and you never were.

     The point is that we never recover from the physical allergy once we have crossed over that line and broken our bodies. We will never be able to drink or use drugs normally. If we are alcoholic or drug addicted, then we die with the allergy. This is just an unfortunate fact for all of you who are bummed out that we can’t drink recreationally. Ironically, were an individual who misses drinking actually become recovered, they would have no interest or desire whatsoever to become a normal drinker again. Talk to a recovered person who has had a profound spiritual experience and you’ll know what I mean.

     So you can make a non-addict into an addict, but there is no turning an addict back into a non-addict (physically speaking). Hope that clears it up. It is very important to realize that if you’re still suffering from the mental obsession, you are not okay, and you will relapse at some point in the future, probably sooner than later.

     However, once you experience a psychic change and your obsession is lifted, then you will know what I mean when I say recovered, and why using that term has nothing to do with being recovering or being complacent about my illness. I am recovered simply because I no longer suffer from thoughts to drink or use, not because I am cocky about my addiction or my recovery. I might be a cocky shithead asshole anyway, but not about drug addiction or alcoholism. I assure you that I take addiction and recovery as serious as life and death.

     As the big book so eloquently states, “We are on a life and death errand.”

     That being the case, I would figure out how to become recovered if you’re still struggling and fighting to get through each day, or if crawling from meeting to meeting isn’t cutting it, or if you have mind-blowing depression and still want to drink or use at every turn. Trust me, being in recovery is no place to be, and it certainly is something to take far more seriously than dismissing it as semantics.

     To note, semantics refers to the branch of linguistics concerned with meaning, context, implication etc. So I don’t mean to be a dick, but when you say “Hey, recovered/recovering, it’s just semantics”, you really aren’t making the point you’re trying to make. You are saying that the meaning, context and implication of these two terms is exactly the same, when semantics quite literally deals with the difference in meaning between the two terms.

     So guess what… you’re right!  I am dealing with semantics, and I’ll just assume that we’re now all aware of why it is important to do so.

Leave a Reply