No matter what 12 Step Program you're in, you've probably heard that you're always recovering, never recovered. It's one of those ideas that is repeated over and over again.
It's a myth! A myth that probably got started in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and has spread to the other organizations over time. It's a myth that keeps us from becoming all we can be, a myth that can be let go of.
The thinking behind the myth of never-ending recovery goes something like this:
Since you're an (name the addiction or compulsive behavior), the only way you can recover is by abstaining from the addiction or behavior.
This is, of course, true.

The thinking goes on:
Because you are vulnerable to a slip, your recovery is never complete.
The logic here is beginning to get murky. Although we cannot return to our addiction, that doesn't mean we can't become recovered - we'll talk more about this in a moment.
A conclusion is drawn: Calling yourself recovered is a denial of your vulnerability to a slip; thinking of yourself as always recovering is they only safe way.
There are real problems now. Calling myself recovered does not mean I'm denying a slip is possible - they are not the same thing.
In the first place, the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) which is the original source material for ALL 12 Step programs, uses the word 'recovered'at least 11 times!
In the second place, the Big Book makes it clear that if we work the Program, we needn't fear a slip when it says, in part, "Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid.That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition." (p. 84). In other words, the Program was designed to help us become recovered. It is only fear that keeps us from accepting the reality that claiming to be recovered is not the same as saying we can again practice our addiction.

What difference does it make?
It's tempting to say there is no difference between being recovered and claiming to be (always) recovering. But it's this type of thinking that leads to the attitude that somehow we are always sick, always abnormal.
On the other hand, a willingness to become recovered means we are using the 12 Steps to truly heal and to step back into life at it's fullest.
As if that isn't bad enough, the myth of never-ending recovery actually prevents many from even coming to a 12 Step Program because they refuse to put themselves in a position where they can't get well.
There are many more reasons to let go of the myth of never-ending recovery than there are to keep it.

What about continuing growth?
Another argument for the 'always recovering, never recovered' reasoning says that if we claim to be recovered we will stop growing. This is often coupled with the notion that claiming to be recovered is somehow lacking in humility.
This simply doesn't make sense. Becoming recovered is a step toward wholeness and health. Humility, as defined in the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions is 'the desire to seek and do God's will.' (P. 72)It seems safe to say that becoming recovered is exactly what a loving God of our understanding would want for us. If we are to have the 'Promises' of the Program come true, we must include at least the possibility of becoming recovered and let go of the fear so we can come ".to know a new freedom and a new happiness." (AA, p. 82)

Author's Bio: 

Anne Wayman is the author of Powerfully Recovered! A Confirmed 12 Stepper Challenges The Movement

She has been clean and sober in 12 Step Programs for almost 24 years, lives and writes on her boat in San Diego. More information on her book can be found at
Her email address is: