Are we “recovered” or “recovering?”
According to the Big Book, when is someone "recovered?" Or are we always "recovering?"
AA, as a fellowship, is seemingly of two minds on this issue. There were competing views on the subject when the Big Book was being written and that remains evident in the text. We are left the seemingly contradictory; that we are recovered but never cured.
Many hold the view that we are never
recovered - that we only have a "daily reprieve." From page 85:
We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.
Meanwhile the subtitle of the Big Book uses "recovered" - the full title of the Big Book is:
The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism
Other quotes from the book in the "Recovered" vein include:
Page 17: Nearly all have recovered.
Page 20: ...we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body.
Page 29: Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.
Page 90: If he says yes, then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered.
Page 113: He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered.
Page 132: We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.
Page 133: We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health.
Whether or not "recovered" is an apt description of our sober condition is a debate as old as AA itself.
The argument in favor of saying we can recover is bolstered by this dictionary definition of "recovered": To restore (oneself) to a normal state.
proceeding from the assumption that one can be "recovered" here are some places where the Big Book touches on when
that might begin:
- When one has obsession to drink is lifted; (this would seem obvious from the context) and/or
- When one experiences an "entire psychic change" (per the Doctor's Opinion on p. xxix) and/or
- When one experiences a "vital spiritual experience" as described by Dr. Carl Jung on p. 27 and/or
- When one experiences the psychic phenomenon known as "the 9th Step Promises" on p. 83-84 and/or
- When one experiences "a personality change sufficient to bring about a recovery from alcoholism" as described on p. 567 in Appendix II. Here the difference between Dr. Jung's spiritual "experience" and a spiritual "awakening" are explained as the same phenomenon; an awakening is a slower process that might take days, weeks, months, or even years; an experience is a sudden transformation, taking only seconds or minutes.