Updated: Dec 14, 2019
In the addiction recovery circles, there’s a saying, “Once an addict, always an addict." But what does this mean?
My name is Onthene…and…I am an ADDICT…
First time I attended an NA meeting and I read the pre-ambles I felt proud, excited to say the least until I got the part “ I suffer from a disease of which there is no known cure”. I cringed, my life came to an abrupt stop. Shit…no known cure? To me at this point I felt doomed, sure, I have stepped over that imaginary line between social use and feeling null and void without my drug of choice…but here I am, rehab…28 day programme, surely if I follow the programme provided, the guidance from my therapist and take the pills my psychiatrist prescribed I will be done with this freaking addiction…right? Right?
As much as I wanted this to be true…I was deep down that bottomless pit of denial…I finished my 28 days with much praise, ready to face the world, armed with some of the skills and tools provided to live life on life's terms, I thought I had it waxed. Right? What could go wrong?
I attended a few meetings, went for a few outpatient sessions with my therapist, continued with the anti-depressants and mood stabilizers prescribed…I was no longer just an addict, but rather a RECOVERING-addict…a grateful addict in RECOVERY…it was bullshitting myself into believing this that ultimately led to my first relapse come day 65.
Let's face it, without the adjective “recovering/grateful” I was still left with the noun ADDICT. “recovering/grateful” did not miraculously exempt me from being an addict. Believing this was just as insane as my thinking in active addiction.
I managed to stay in relapse mode, my attempts to stay sober few and far between. By now the skills and tools I was armed with were long forgotten, I was busy getting my ass kicked by this addiction, this disease of which there is no known cure. By Gods grace I was sent to rehab, again, this time facing 6 months in. It was here where I learned that this disease can be arrested. Following a 12 step programme saved my life. It works if you work it finally started making sense to me. I found solace following the guidelines and applying the principles of this 12 step programme.
Once an addict always an addict isn’t meant to be offensive or hurtful…to me it’s a thoughtful reminder that I need to remain vigilant and not forget where I come from, become proud and boastful, complacent…you know, forget what I have learned in recovery never mind applying these in my life going forward.
It doesn’t matter how much clean time I have – I am still an addict. It doesn’t matter how many meetings I attend, how much information I have or don’t have about this disease – I am still an addict.
Once an addict always an addict to me isn’t a label with a negative stigma connected to it anymore…it is my reality…by accepting myself as an addict I have liberated myself from the labels “junky, not worthy, less than, loser, victim, monster” the list goes on. I am not one of those labels and my addiction does not define who I am or who I will become.
I can do anything…I can be anything as long as I don’t use or drink.
The acceptance of once an addict always an addict is a small price to pay for the 180-degree turnaround I have experienced. My name is Onthene and I am an addict.