In a recent blog post, we took a look at a few terms and phrases that might be described as “recovery jargon.” We covered the process known as urge surfing to fend off cravings. We defined the phrase “dry drunk.” And we took a look at the vagaries of the pink cloud, which can cause you to underestimate the realities of recovery in the early going.
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In this entry, we will tackle three more ideas and terms that can be confusing the first time you hear them. All three are important to understand whether you are considering getting help for a substance use disorder or have already gotten that help and are setting out on your recovery journey.
Recovery Jargon – Hiding in Plain Sight: High-Functioning Alcoholics
Some people have an uncanny ability to hide their alcoholism—from others and from themselves. This sort of person may have developed a substance use disorder centered on alcohol, but somehow manages to avoid exhibiting the usual signs.
They seem to be doing fine at work or in school. No one ever decides to take their keys from them when they are out in public. Their relationships with family and friends seem just fine.
But out of sight, they are drinking. And eventually, no matter how much they attempt to deny it, the drinking will start having impacts on their mental and physical health as well as on their ability to function effectively in everyday situations.
The danger for the high-functioning alcoholic is that things can fall apart in catastrophic ways in a big hurry. The best thing a high functioning alcoholic can do is to be honest with themselves sooner rather than later. Getting help as soon as possible is always the best option.
Which brings us to another concept that can, unfortunately, cause someone to delay the important step of getting into treatment.
Recovery Jargon – A Concept on Shifting Sand: Rock Bottom
Many people who are using drugs or alcohol think they are in control—or at least in control for right now. They may decide that they will be more than happy to get help for a substance disorder if they ever hit “rock bottom.”
You’ll note that our hypothetical person isn’t planning to get help when they hit rock bottom. They are planning to see if they ever hit rock bottom. And that is a significant problem.
Why? Because the idea of rock bottom sounds much, much firmer than it actually is. A person waiting to hit rock bottom is all too likely to change their definition of rock bottom as their situation changes.
For example, they may have decided they will get help if they ever get pulled over for drunk driving. That is their definition of rock bottom. But then they get pulled over, face the consequences, and decide they will get help if they are ever in an accident while driving drunk. That is their new definition of rock bottom.
You can see how this can be problematic. Just like the high-functioning alcoholic, a person waiting to reach rock bottom may put off treatment far longer than is wise.
Recovery Jargon – The Ol’ Switcheroo: Substitute Addictions
It might seem like your recovery is cruising along. You haven’t taken a drink or consumed alcohol since you got out of treatment, and everything seems right in the world.
But then you (or someone close to you) recognizes that you are spending all of your time at work, or are exercising well past the point of exhaustion, or are spending too much time (and losing too much money) in the casino.
Each of those things—working, exercising, gambling—can easily become a substitute addiction, and a range of other things—sex or food, for example—can as well.
While it is undeniably positive that you haven’t relapsed by using drugs or alcohol, these substitute addictions can be just as disruptive to your life as your substance use disorder has been. If you realize that you have made such a substitution, it is important to get help—especially since these substitute addictions can also easily undermine your sobriety.
Will Tell It To You Straight About Recovery
At Bel Aire Recovery Center in Kansas, we value clear and honest communication with the people we help. So you won’t catch us using a bunch of jargon you don’t understand. Instead, we will listen to you, answer your questions, and explain our approach to treatment plainly as we work with you to create a personalized plan that will help you regain and maintain your sobriety. Say the word, and we will get to work.