Wise Recovery Slogans, Sayings & Catchphrases

wise recovery slogans book and reading glasses

Lately what I’ve written has been intense (e.g., boundaries, generational addiction, relapse). And I’m ready to try something a little lighter, yet equally as informative. A part of the recovery dialogue that has been revealed to me over the years, is the use of slogans in recovery  At first, I thought they were silly. I couldn’t understand them, and I couldn’t believe these catchphrases could be helpful to people. Little did I know! 


The Wisdom of Recovery Slogans

As I learned more about substance use disorders (SUDs), recovery and recovering family life, my awareness into my own behaviors increased. When that happened, I realized how much recovery wisdom was expressed in these sayings and slogans. These groupings of words held a whole lot of truth for me.  I wondered if our readers, and the folks in my Family Program, might find some of the same truth as they move forward in their recovery work.


The unique thing about recovery slogans is that many are “equal opportunity”. In other words, they apply to recovery for family members of people with SUDs, as well as those in recovery from SUDs themselves.  No matter what side of the coin you fall on, we all have a great deal in common with our loved ones when it comes to recovery. Who knew, right?


As the progression of addiction moves forward on its destructive path, everyone on either side of the issue begins to move further away from who they were as individuals. Family members begin to view themselves as very different and separate from their loved one with an SUD. And folks with developing SUDs begin to feel less and less understood and connected to the people they love.



Communication is the key …

Communication and mutual problem solving comes to an end. We feel so alienated from each other, life together begins to feel as though we are on separate paths – never to meet again.  Then, thankfully, treatment and recovery enter the picture. As individuals, we all begin to learn and grow through our own recovery plans. But, how are we going to come together again?


One way to begin this re-connection is to share our experience and knowledge gained from slogans and sayings. We are all having some of the same feelings and thoughts, just from different angles of the problem.


I’ve checked around the recovery community and found 10 slogans, sayings and catchphrases that I believe apply to the tasks of recovery, no matter which side of the coin you happen to be located. Some of the sayings and slogans are from traditional 12-step recovery, some are from recovery authors. and some are from Smart Recovery. Either way, they apply. 


The Wisdom of Recovery Slogans, Sayings & Catchphrases …

Gratitude and resentment can’t go together.

If nothing changes, nothing changes.

The three Ps – Practice, patience, persistence.

Progress, not perfection!  

The lesson I must learn is simply that my control is limited to my own behavior and my own attitudes.

(HOW recovery works): honesty, open-mindedness and willingness.

Keep coming back – it works if you work it.

Identify specific and important goals you want to achieve to bring more meaning to your life.

Be part of the solution, not the problem.

What do I want for my future? What am I currently doing to achieve that?  How do I feel about what I’m currently doing? 


Applying These Words of Wisdom

So, what might you do with these words of wisdom? Certainly, as an individual, you could read and apply them to your current and past behaviors in recovery. Ask yourself what has changed about your behavior since you’ve started recovery? What does the saying or slogan mean to you and your recovery behaviors?  When did you first hear or read the sayings or slogan? How have you heard it used by others?


Sharing your personal experiences and the impact of these slogans, sayings and catchphrases with your loved one in recovery, could be a step on the path to healing for your family.  Do you have any favorite slogans? Share those, too! Why not give it a try?




Caroline (Carli) Parmelee-Noffsinger has 20 years clinical experience including: primary therapist and case manager for residential, IOP and outpatient therapy. Carli’s primary role at Sanford House is facilitating the Family Program. She is currently updating and revising the program design and content and hopes to improve upon an already successful approach to family intervention. In her free time, Carli spends time with her horse. She has been a horse lover and owner for most of her life and has facilitated equine therapy sessions. She says, “The back of a horse is good for the inside of a person.” You can reach Carli with questions about The Sanford House Family Program at cnoffsinger@sanfordhouse.com