The Problem with the Phrase “I am an Addict”


Sober Recovery Expert Author

The most powerful phrase in the English language is “I am.” Anything that follows that phrase is set in stone, so to speak. In other words, it is manifested.

For that reason, it is extremely important for recovering individuals and addiction professionals to be extremely careful with their words. Speaking anything negative over yourself or someone else can easily manifest that undesirable condition into being.

Speaking from a spiritual perspective, continually being forced to make the statement, “I am an addict,” even after help has been sought and recovery is ongoing may have counterproductive effects.

These negative manifestations can result from something as simple as trivial phrases – “I am broke” – to more abusive statements – “I am fat,” “I am worthless” or “I am a failure.” Additionally, this truth poses the need for consideration regarding traditional 12-Step introductions. For example, “My name is Sally, and I am an addict.”

Being Defined as an Addict

Speaking from a spiritual perspective, continually being forced to make the statement, “I am an addict,” even after help has been sought and recovery is ongoing may have counterproductive effects.

In consideration of that possibility, it might be better to begin utilizing the statement, “I am a recovering addict,” or “I am in recovery for addiction.” These statements highlight the recovery aspect, rather than focusing on (and potentially manifesting) the active state of illness.

The latter gives cause to consider the impact traditional statements have with regard to relapse.

Positive Self-Talk

In most spiritual practices – like yoga and meditation – personal mantras are utilized as a way to uplift oneself . These mantras are positive statements about the self, beginning with the phrase “I Am.” A few common mantras are “I am healthy,” “I am strong,” “I am powerful” and “I am capable.”

The purpose of mantras, of course, is to manifest these positive statements into being. Speaking positive intentions and affirmations to the self and the Universe generally create a holistic sense of wellness and balance.

Conversely, to use mantras (or traditional statements) that speak active illness over you or another person – like “I am an addict” or “I am addicted” – will likely create a holistic sense of illness and imbalance, while continuing to manifest the statements into being. For those in active recovery, this truth has potentially deadly implications.

In fact, it may be that this practice of consistently stating to the self and the Universe, “I am an addict,” is at least one of the root causes for relapse. In other words, relapse may very well be a manifestation. You stated it, and it is so.

The Flip Side

Of course, it is also necessary to consider the implications of not admitting to addiction. To encourage people in active addiction to steer clear of stating they need help would be a potentially deadly error.

However, with individual accountability in mind and the knowledge that admitting there is a problem and humbling oneself is the first step to take in regards to active addiction, it is possible that a simple shift in terminology is needed. Finding ways to speak the same accountability as traditional statements, which are needed to admit there is a problem, without using terms that manifest a future filled with active illness is, from a spiritual perspective, necessary to create a holistic sense of well-being and prevent relapse.

Of course, there will be those who disagree. However, since addiction is viewed as a disease, and cancer is typically utilized as an analogy to explain the illness, it might be necessary to consider the fact that most holistic cancer treatment centers approach this ideology in the same way – utilizing empowering, positive statements that affirm the individual, rather than defining them with (and continuing to manifest or give power to) the disease.

What do you think about the phrase “I am an addict?” Do you find it problematic or are you fine with it as is? Feel free to start a discussion in the comments section below.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-772-8219 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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