What do former drug addicts prefer to be called?

The company I work for just acquired a major drug rehab group as a client, and I was hired on to be a part of their writing team. As we are writing our articles and such one of the problems we have discovered we are running into is what we are calling the people who are within, and/or recent graduates of, the facility. No one on staff personally knows anyone who has gone through the recovery process so we don’t have anyone we can really ask, so I thought I’d make a thread here.

It’s easy just to keep saying “addict” and “recovering addict” but I think that sounds a bit…harsh. Because of this I mostly go with “recovering individual” or “patients” as much as possible but, again, I just don’t know.

Can anyone shed any light on what recovering addicts prefer to be called when being referenced? Is “recovering addict” ok? Recovering individual? Former user?

I’ve never been a drug addict but I’d prefer to be called Bob, if my name was Bob that is. However if you subscribe to the AA, never been to AA either so I could have this wrong, philosophy I suppose you could just call them addicts.

I would say “alumni”. Seeing as how these people have gained a skill (staying sober) that they didn’t have when they first went in for recovery that seems appropriate.


My friend has been sober 10+ years and considers himself “Recovering addict in maintenance”


Their name.

Why do we always look for labels?

Recovering ___________

How about just ‘people’?

Because they’re so useful for discriminating between groups of people with something in common.

The ‘survivor’ tag is very trendy at the moment, so maybe ‘Narcotic Survivors’?

But really, ask the rehab staff/clients.

Just because they graduated does not mean they are in recovery. If you know thy are in recovery then recovering addict or alcoholic should be fine to reference them. Otherwise simply calling them graduates might be more accurate.

chemically independent?
Toxicologically challenged?
drug dis-addicted?

Technically, I am a ‘former’ alcoholic - I used it for sleep and was appalled to discover a physical dependency. Anyone who wants to identify me as a (insert label here) will not be viewed kindly.

Thise who self-identify as ‘recovering alcoholic’ are the most obnoxious people I know.
p.s. - it is quite easy for some “former alcoholics” to have a beer with their pizza or wine with their lunch.
It is even possible to go out drinking with the gang. I have a bit of vodka in the pantry. I has been there since 2009.

Survivor? Seriously? God, that’s fucking pretentious.

Although if you do go with that, hopefully some wacky Larry David-esque misunderstanding will ensue. Such as the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry is hyped about meeting a “survivor”, who of course he believes to be a Holocaust survivor, and turns out to be a former contestant on the game show Survivor.

People in a 12-step based program will not be offended by being referred to as “recovering addicts.”

People who are not in a program of recovery, well, you never know what they’re ready to be offended by.

This. Or “patients.”

Define them by their relationship to the facility, not by their relationship to drugs.

QFT. I"m a recovering addict and alcoholic. For over 25 years now. I’ll be ‘recovered’ after I’m dead.

QtM, obnoxious clean and sober person. :cool:

Drug seeky. Or the drug seekers. (Thanks to Neal Stephenson)

I agree with this.

Why don’t you just ask your client how it refers to that group of people. Some prefer “patients,” some “clients,” in-patient facilities talk about “residents” and so on.

My husband who has been free of his addiction for 15 years, agrees with “recovering addict”. He shares Qadgop the Mercotan’s view that he won’t be fully “recovered” in this lifetime. Ever vigilant.

As an alcoholic now sober 29 years, I’d anticipate “alcoholic” or perhaps the misleading “recovering/recovered alcoholic”. I wouldn’t take any offense at language referring collectively to a group of us.