Some will question why we as recovery advocates should invest valuable time debating the words used to convey alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems and their solutions when there are suffering individuals and families that need to be engaged, recovery support resources that need to be created, communities that need to be educated, and regressive, discriminatory policies that need to be changed. We must invest this time because achieving our broader goals depends on our ability to forge a recovery-oriented vocabulary.
Words have immense power to wound or heal. The wrong words shame people with AOD problems and drive them into the shadows of subterranean cultures. The wrong words, by conveying that people are not worthy of recovery and not capable of recovery, fuel self-destruction and prevent or postpone help-seeking. The right words serve as catalysts of personal transformation and offer invitations to citizenship and community service. The right words awaken processes of personal healing, family renewal, and community and cultural revitalization. The wrong words stigmatize and disempower individuals, families and communities.
It is time people in recovery rejected imposed language and laid claim to words that adequately convey the nature of our experience, strength and hope. We must forge a new vocabulary that humanizes AOD problems and widens the doorways of entry into recovery. We must forever banish language that, by objectifying and demonizing addiction, sets the stage for our sequestration and punishment. We must counter the clinical language that reduces human beings to diagnostic labels that pigeon-hole our pathologies while ignoring our strengths and resiliencies. We must also reject the disrespectful and demeaning epithets (e.g., “retreads”, “frequent flyers”) professionals sometimes use to castigate those who need repeated treatment episodes.”
Source: WilliamWhitePapers.com – June 7, 2014