Language of Recovery
Language is the key to changing the way people with substance use disorders see themselves, and the way they are seen by others.
|Current Terminology||Alternative Terminology|
|Treatment is the goal; Treatment is the only way into recovery||Treatment is an opportunity for initiation into recovery (one of multiple pathways into recovery).|
|Substance Abuse||Substance Use Disorder / Substance Misuse|
|Drug of Choice / Abuse||Drug of Use|
|Relapse prevention||Recovery management|
|Pathology Based Assessment||Strength / Asset Based Assessment|
|Focus is on total abstinence from all illicit and non-prescribed substances the CLINICIAN identifies||Focus on the drug CLIENT feels is creating the problems|
|A Drug is a Drug is a Drug||Each illicit substance has unique interactions with the brain; medication if available is appropriate.|
|Relapse||Recurrence / Return to Use|
|Relapse is part of recovery||Recurrence / Return to use may occur as part of the disease|
|Clean / Sober||Drug Free / Free from illicit and non-prescribed medications|
|Self Help Group||Mutual Aid Group|
|Untreated Addict / Alcoholic||Individual not yet in recovery|
The most respectful way to refer to people is as people.
|Clients / Patients / Consumers||The people in our program The folks we work with The people we serve||More inclusive, less stigmatizing|
|Alex is an addict||Alex is addicted to alcohol Alex is a person with a substance use disorder Alex is in recovery from drug addiction||Put the person first Avoid defining the person by their disease|
The terms listed below, along with others, are often people's ineffective attempts to reclaim some shred of power while being treated in a system that often tries to control them. The person is trying to get their needs met, or has a perception different from the staff, or has an opinion of self not shared by others, and these efforts are not effectively bringing them to the result they want.
|Matthew is manipulative||Matthew is trying really hard to get his needs met Matthew may need to work on more effective ways of getting his needs met||Take the blame out of the statement Recognize that the person is trying to get a need met the best way they know how|
|Kyle is non-compliant||Kyle is choosing not to... Kyle would rather... Kyle is looking for other options||Describe what it looks like uniquely to that individual - that information is more useful than a generalization|
|Mary is resistant to treatment||Mary chooses not to... Mary prefers not to... Mary is unsure about...||Avoid defining the person by the behavior Remove the blame from the statement|
|Jennifer is in denial||Jennifer is ambivalent about... Jennifer hasn't internalized the seriousness of... Jennifer doesn't understand...||Remove the blame and the stigma from the statement|