Recovered Addict

The Recovered Addict is a former substance or compulsive behavior addict who has managed to beat their addiction. They have managed to go through the rounds of rehab and withdrawal and come out the other side without falling Off the Wagon immediately after. Then again, addiction recovery, being a long and sometimes painful and/or dramatic road, they might very well have fallen off several times before they figured out how to stay on the wagon.

The addiction in question may have been drugs, alcohol, gambling, or another compulsive behavior. Weirder fare like sex addiction, cannibalism, videogame addiction, and blood drinking are also possible.

They may have been The Alcoholic, an Addled Addict or a Functional Addict who got wise and found help. One interesting Character Arc and story for these types of character is to start clean, get addicted, and then recover, with all the drama and pain that that implies.

Once clean they can go one of two ways: be outspoken about how Drugs Are Bad and their own past and possibly become The Teetotaler; or try to forget and live down their past and move on, making it Hidden Depths. They'll usually be sympathetic to the suffering of others and seek to help in overcoming addictions as The Sponsor.

The Manipulative Bastard will probably try to get them to relapse by offering or forcing them to do drugs or otherwise kicking them Off the Wagon. Friends who are still addicted will probably crawl out of the woodwork asking for money or trying to get them to come back. It's unfortunate, but sometimes they do succumb and relapse, starting the cycle over again.

Interestingly some vampires may be able to stave off their Horror Hunger and become recovered blood addicts; transitioning from bloodthirsty monster to Vegetarian Vampire.

Note that in real life, societies for addicts looking to go clean such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous emphasize that there is no such thing as a recovered addict, an addict is always in a state of recovery, regardless of how many years they've been sober.

See also The Sponsor and Addiction Displacement which frequently accompany this character. In optimistic works, this can be the endpoint of a Descent into Addiction character arc. See also: Off the Wagon for when they relapse.


Examples

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     Comic Books  

  • For most of Justice League Elite, Major Disaster kept getting wasted in order to deal with the stress of having to play a supervillain (because supervillainy was a previous addiction that he was still struggling to overcome). After getting so wasted that his powers crapped out on a mission, leading to the death of one of his only real friends, he tried to kill himself. When that failed, he decided retire from superheroics and join AA instead, and as far as we know, never relapsed (well, not on the drinking, anyway; he did return to being a superhero, but since that was during Infinite Crisis, and he ended up dying in battle, he can probably be forgiven for it.)
  • In The Order, Henry Hellrung used to be a nasty drunk, the result of his playing Tony Stark on a TV show and becoming the real Tony's wingman. After his career went down the toilet, he got heavily into AA, and became Stark's sponsor when he got sober. Incidentally, upon becoming the leader of the Order, California's post-Civil War official team, he instituted a strict no-alcohol policy.

     Film  

  • Nadia in The Drop, she cleaned up after leaving a (drug) abusive boyfriend.
  • Ewan McGregor's character in Trainspotting, at least until his friends forced him to go back to Heroin.
  • Played with in the relatively little known and not especially well received Al Pacino film Two For The Money, where Pacino's character is a former Gambling Addict who kicked the habit after coming down with a heart condition, and appears to stay away from personally gambling even though he owns a business that advises people on how to bet on sports. Throughout the film it's shown, however, that he has done a form of Addiction Displacement: rather than wagering money on sports teams or dice or cards, he now gambles with his business and his personal relationships instead. This is shown during the film by him doing things like recruiting little known sports handicappers, bringing them to the New York where potentially millions of dollars are riding on their picks and seeing if they crack under the pressure, (with potentially catastrophic effects on his business) or if his attractive younger wife cheats with his latest, very handsome recruit...
  • Jake of 4Closed is a former alcoholic.
  • Tom Holmes in Heroes for Sale is able to kick his morphine addiction cold-turkey.
  • Molly, of Lovely Molly, suffered from a heroin addiction prior to the events of the film. Her supernatural experiences are initially treated as side effects of her addiction, or of her having fallen off the wagon.

     Literature  

  • Sam Vimes on the Discworld has been on the alcohol wagon since the end of the first book he appears in, Guards! Guards!, and stayed there, despite considerable temptation, even keeping a tipple in his desk as a kind of permanent test. When his political enemies sneak a bottle of high-end brandy into the desk in Feet of Clay, he pours it out and feigns a stupor, then considers charging them with high crimes for making him waste booze. He later considers that he'll have to have the carpet replaced so that he's not haunted by the smell.
  • Ravenswood Cadavre in Relativity. He was a heavy drinker and an alcoholic until about five years before the start of the series. A flashback scene shows him getting drunk and waking up with three days of his memory gone.
  • Lo and Lily in Addicted eventually become this.
  • Anna in Berättelse om herr Roos is a former heroine addict and lives in a (quite terrible) home for former addicts until she runs away.

     Live Action TV  

  • The very first episode of Murphy Brown has the title character returning from rehab for alcoholism. She tries to get back down to business but sincerely questions if she still has her edge. When she goes for the jugular for her post-rehab interview, she's delighted that she does.
  • Babylon 5. Garibaldi's Back Story features a drunken past. Then he falls Off the Wagon after realizing he had been Mind Controlled, with his resurgent alcoholism causing trouble for him and everyone around him. A part of the last season is him dealing with it and overcoming it again.
  • A group of vampires in the second series of Being Human (UK) do this under the leadership of Mitchell. They manage to form their own version of AA and go off drinking human blood entirely. Then a group of human vampire hunters bombs their celebration party, destroying quite possibly the only group on Friendly Neighborhood Vampires on the planet.
  • In Bones Seeley Booth is a recovered gambling addict. It rarely comes up except when their investigations take them to a casino or similar place. Season 10 forced him to go undercover in an underground game, causing him to relapse.
  • In Cheers
  • On Elementary Sherlock Holmes is a recovering heroin addict and Joan Watson was originally his live-in sober companion before becoming his protege, then partner, then quit to start her own private investigation business.
  • As of the start of The John Larroquette Show John Hemingway is a recovering alcoholic, having given it up that very day. Going to AA meetings is a regular part of the first season but dropped after that.
  • In Graceland, Paul Briggs is a recovering heroin addict, although given that he makes money selling heroin, it's unclear how committed he is to his recovery.
  • Detective Holder from The Killing once had a bad drug habit but has six months of sobriety by the time the show's first season begins.
  • Law & Order: SVU: Captain Cragen drank like a fish in his back story. His recovered status is repeatedly brought up. Mostly by Cragen himself.
    • Olivia also had an alcohol problem at one point and eventually ends up being forced off the wagon by a madman who has her captured.
  • The Mentalist: Cho is shot during a bust and is given pain medication during his recovery. As the episodes go on we see him popping the pills as needed. Eventually he realizes he's getting addicted to them. Cho being Cho, he solves his addiction by flushing the remainder of his pills down the toilet and never takes any again.
  • The main characters of Mike & Molly met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, and are often seen attending such meetings in the early seasons. After getting married in the fourth season, that angle of the show was phased out to concentrate on their domestic lives.
  • Mom is about two such characters, Christy and her mother Bonnie, as they struggle to remain sober and rebuild their lives.
  • In Necessary Roughness, Terrence King developed a bad painkiller habit after getting shot, and spent the better part of a season on a downward spiral. He finally got sober after befriending another addict and then watching him overdose.
  • NYPD Blue eventually became the story of Andy Sipowicz, who as of the first episode is a rude, racist alcoholic and borderline drug addict. Early in the first season he stops drinking, but later falls off the wagon. After he joins AA he remains sober - even going so far as to initially refuse pain medication during a surgery - and generally becomes a much nicer person. He even helps a few others stop drinking.
  • Hill Street Blues has Detective LaRue's struggle to overcome his drink problem as the secondary story arc for much of Seasons 3 and 4. Captain Furillo also comes close to a relapse at one point.
  • Space: Above and Beyond: The In Vitros have severe problems with addictions to certain pain meds. Col. McQueen has had problems with the same "Green Meanies" prescribed to Hawkes in one episode.
  • Pete Lattimer in Warehouse 13. Several episodes keep drawing attention to the fact that Pete is a recovering alcoholic by stating it in the recap opening, but they subvert it by making the characters simply think he has been drinking when the truth is far weirder.
  • Perhaps the most heartwarming moments of The Wire involve Bubbles finally managing to achieve sobriety in the final season after years, perhaps decades, of being a homeless drug addict. At his first year anniversary he talks in heartbreaking detail about how he almost couldn't complete that first year due to his continued desire to get high.
  • Arrow: Laurel spent much of Season 2 spiraling into alcohol and drug addiction, but eventually turned it around and started attending meetings. She is then shown consistently keeping her sobriety, even when her father at one point bitterly (and quite literally) shoves a bottle of liquor into her hands. She even comments that she only take aspirin after being in a car crash.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Interestingly, in Shadowrun you can play as one of these, but throughout your career you may be tempted in a variety of ways.

     Video Games  

  • The White Glove Society in Fallout: New Vegas are a recovered Cannibal Clan. Their transformation couldn't be more complete, having become high class casino owners and operators. However, there's a subgroup with some recidivism of late.
  • In Fallout 4, you can help Cait kick her addiction to Psycho, but it's not easy. It requires not only getting her affinity up to the level where she nearly idolizes you, but taking her deep into the southwest and into the heart of Vault 95, which is neck-deep in Gunners and Assaultrons, in order to purge the poison from her system.
  • Cullen becomes this in Dragon Age: Inquisition if you support him during this fight against his lyrium addiction. If he does, he becomes the role model for other Templars (those who weren't corrupted by Red Lyrium, anyway) to be cured of their addiction, as well.

     Webcomic  

  • Jacob in Shortpacked! was a sex addict, part of the reason he's stuck working retail is that his addiction interfered with his studying law. Roz abused his addiction to get cheap, relationship-free sex, only for him to realize what it was doing to him. Eventually Amber got him out of his slump and he got clean, completing his law degree and moving away.

     Western Animation  

  • The Simpsons regular drunk Barney Gumbel went sober for one episode. He continued being sober for several seasons (most of which he spent as a "coffee fiend") before reverting back to form.
  • Superboy of Young Justice had this as a character arc, starting with Lex Luthor giving him Super Serum to allow him access to full Kryptonian powers, and Conner trying to resist their use, but becoming metaphorically addicted to their use. He eventually gives them up once they prove to cause uncontrollable rage and the favors Lex asked for too great.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RecoveredAddict