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Unread 09-22-2007, 06:48 PM   #16
TIM
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Words to avoid: (depending on your audience)

"In recovery"
This may be appropriate when speaking to people within the recovery community, but less so when speaking outside those circles.

In 2004 801 adults were asked, When you hear the word recovery, as in This person is in recovery from an addiction, what does recovery mean?

Only 22% answered that it meant that the person is no longer using addictive substances. The rest receive the wrong message every time that phrase is used. According to this research as we promote people being in recovery3 out of 4 people are thinking we are promoting something entirely different. This is a clear case of for ever 1 step forward we take 3 steps back The recovery community has used the phrase in recovery for 50+ years and even after all that time only 1 out of 4 understand the meaning. It may be time to reexamine the language. After all, the point of language is to convey meaning, what good is it to insist on using terms most people don't understand?

"In recovery" is well understood within the circles of the recovery community and used there it is effective, but just as companies have their own shop talk and adjust their internal language to make it understandable to the public so should the recovery community, if it wants to effectively convey its message.

Alternatives to "recovering addict" and "in recovery" are "addiction survivor" and "addiction is in remission". Who is more likely to be accepted by the public or in a neighborhood, or gain support of lawmakers, or covered by insurance plans a "recovering addict” or an "addiction survivor”?

Will the entire recovery community be willing to adjust language that has been the tradition for years? Probably not, but will people just entering this phase of their lives, with effects of stigma and discrimination still fresh in their minds, consider their use of language, hopefully. Even if only some people replace stigmatizing terms with medical or otherwise respectable language, it will help reduce stigma and make addiction treatment more accessible in the future.
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