The “Once and Addict, Always an Addict” label is one of the most damaging, false and harmful concept in recovery.
Why Once an Addict Always an Addict Concept is Not True
1. Change is possible in any circumstance
The number one reason why the once an addict always an addict concept is not true is because it implies that once you are addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex or food, you’ll always be addicted. But that’s not true!
Despite struggling with an addiction for many years, it is possible that you can leave your addiction behind and no longer be an “addict”.
For Example, I am a son, a husband and a guitarist who was once addicted to alcohol. Also, I used to be asthmatic when I was a child, but now I don’t have asthma.
Yes, even my medical condition didn’t stay constant.
Change is not a constant, you can change your circumstances in any situation. With the right methods, tools and support you can break away from your addiction. Bear in mind that it won’t be easy, but it is definitely possible.
2. Addiction should not be classified as a lifelong circumstance
While there are many of persons who struggle to overcome addiction for years, there are many cases of short term users who manage to put their addictions in the past and move forward to live productive lives.
An Alcohol Recovery Study showed that More Than 75% of alcoholics Recovered Without Treatment.
Just like depression, addiction is a spectrum disorder, and varies from person to person. However, there is no labels placed on depression saying, “once depressed, always depressed”.
Just as how there is different level of severity in depression, there is also different levels of severity to addiction, and once an individual has an addiction struggle, they should not automatically be branded with the label “once an addict is always an addict”, instead they cases should be assessed on an individual basis analyzing the level of severity.
According to a study by JAMA, recovery may lead to improved resilience to new addictions. The study showed that people who recovered from a Substance Use Disorder have 50% less chance of developing a new Substance Use Disorder.
This proves that there is a reduced chance of developing a new Substance Use Disorder, when you have recovered from a substance, it does not automatically lead to substance substitution.
3. Abstinence is Not Everyone’s Goal
For most people, it is their struggles in life—with trauma, environmental pressure and stress, outside influence, and more—that create their addiction. So is the message really that if one is struggling in their life right now, they will always struggle?
Most people’s addiction are created from external factors and struggles in life such as stress, trauma, negative social influences, etc. Would it be fair to say that because people struggle in their life right now, they will always be struggling?
If addiction and depression are both spectrum disorders, why say “Once an addict, always an addict” for addiction, but not “Once depressed, always depressed” for depression? That statement is not true for depression is it? Just the same, it is not true for addiction! Imaging someone is struggling financially, and there is a concept saying “Once you’re broke, you’ll always be broke”. That saying doesn’t exist because it’s not true. Change is possible and we want to encourage change.
The ‘once an addict always, an addict’ label is self defeating and holds people back, and lets them feel like their are in a state that they can’t escape from, a permanent state of failure.
If you have been told that ‘once an addict always an addict’ and it has hindered your recovery process and created a plethora of self-defeating, discouraging, anxious, depressive and negative thoughts and beliefs, consider joining our Shame-free, non AA, online Recovery program. In the KCB recovery program, we will unpack those negative beliefs, uncover the root cause of your drinking/using and give you the tools to recover stronger and lead a happy, healthy, productive live that you deserve.