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The word patient as we know it today describes someone who is ill, injured, or suffering and is under medical treatment. While the stigma surrounding substance abuse might have you believe otherwise, addiction is an illness for which medical care is needed. Yet, the meaning of patient actually has more profound meaning and symbolism that honors the recovery process. At the Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women, we specifically refer to the women in our program as patients for their ability to overcome adversity and endure well.

The Origins of the Word Patient

The noun we now use to describe someone receiving treatment for illness, injury, or suffering originally comes from the root pati, the Latin verb “to suffer” through the participle patientem, or “one who is suffering.” There was an extra connotation in Latin that this was someone who bore their suffering with peace, calmness, and composure. The adjective patience as we know it now was more closely related then in definition. Even if the noun patient now has a primarily medical context, initially, the word was used more like “patience in affliction or suffering.”

The word patient is also linked to the Greek word pathos, meaning “suffering,” “experience,” or “emotion.” Pathos has more implications for experiencing sorrow, suffering, or emotions. When you understand the etymology of the word patient, you can understand the deeper meaning behind its use within treatment for addiction.

Suffering in the Context of Addiction

Part of the stigma surrounding addiction is that it is self-induced or completely within your control to change. Yet, these beliefs are archaic and insensitive to the suffering of millions worldwide. Substance abuse is a physiological illness that requires medical treatment. That makes you a patient.

About half of those who suffer from addiction are genetically predisposed. There are also environmental aspects of both learned behaviors and dysfunction, abuse, and trauma caused by families with addiction. Coming from a family where addiction or other abusive or traumatic factors are prevalent can raise those stakes even higher. Similar to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety or physical diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, addiction is an illness that often has biological predictors or causes. The changes in the body and brain that occur throughout active addiction also make it like any other disease or condition.

Just as the original roots of the word patient, those who have an addiction truly know suffering. Substance abuse is lonely. It causes mental and physical harm and can cause behaviors that disrupt your life and the lives of others. Learning to live without substances is also a form of suffering because the physiological cravings are still there. Your brain is still telling your body to seek substances as if they were a life-sustaining requirement, and it takes patience, peace, and calmness to endure this type of suffering.

Enduring Trials With Peace and Calmness

Learning to endure trials with peace and calmness changes the definition of suffering to longsuffering. Suffering without peace is just pain, but being still and finding calm while suffering allows you to endure it well. The concept of pathos, to help you feel and experience the emotions, combined with the context of patientem, to bear the suffering with peace, calmness, and composure is why we refer to you as a patient.

Giving yourself the ability to simply be still amidst what can at times feel like chaos in your mind and body, to be able to sit with yourself and be comfortable in your own skin gives you control over your mind and body again. This is the essence of mindfulness, to be in the moment, allowing yourself to feel the emotions and sensations of that moment without being distracted by the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness will enable you to truly endure the trials of recovery with peace.

Overcoming Adversity in Recovery

Experiencing recovery as a patient allows you more strength and resilience to overcome adversity within recovery. Learning to be still and feel the emotions when cravings, triggers, or other trouble arises within your recovery will allow the adversity to wash over you like a wave without drowning you. Facing this adversity with peace gives you strength.

This strength that comes with mindfulness and peace promotes healing and continued growth. Recovery will undoubtedly always have some level of adversity, but enduring your trials with peace and calmness helps you bear the hardship and become a better woman for your longsuffering. 

If you have an addiction, there is suffering, but you have the choice to endure it well. The word patient has Latin roots, which give greater meaning to simply suffering. Your ability to be still and be comfortable with who you are is something that can be learned and developed as a patient at The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women. Within our residential treatment for substance abuse, we emphasize the importance of mindfulness in healing. As you learn to be a patient in the original context of the word, you will build resilience and strength for your recovery. Contact our Costa Mesa, California facility at (714) 581-3974 to learn more about our trauma-informed staff and programs. We invite you to come experience individualized treatment in a peaceful, calm, and loving atmosphere created for women to heal. We know that you already have the tools inside of you to achieve sobriety. We help you use them.