What’s in a word? Quite a bit, especially if you’re a person in recovery from an addiction to alcohol or other drugs. A person labeled as a “junkie” may have a harder time maintaining recovery when they feel like they’ve been publicly branded by their fellow community members. Mental Health America, a nonprofit focused on helping Americans nurture mentally healthy lives, shared on its website the importance of person-centered language regarding mental health and recovery:

Recovery involves increasing a person’s ability to make the changes they want in their life – the power to get better, to identify their goals, to develop the ability to accomplish their goals, and provide the supports needed to attain their goals. It means focusing on the person’s strengths and the choices they want for their lives – not just their symptoms. It is important to assess the way we use language and how the use of language reinforces negative biases or promotes empowerment and strengths.

When we, as communities, change the language we use to reflect positivity, we start shifting perceptions about the people living with these disorders—as well as perceptions about their loved ones. What’s more, person-centered language supports a growing trend in health care toward community-based, people-focused approaches to addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery. Learn more about this shift toward ROSC (recovery-oriented systems of care). For more specific guidance on supportive language, check out the above infographic by the National Council for Behavioral Health. It lists the words and phrases that can help destigmatize substance use disorders and better support a recovering person’s journey into a life of wellness. Compass Mark offers education, prevention, and treatment resources for the Lancaster community. Call our team at 717-299-2831 so we can direct you to the right resources for your family, school, or organization.    

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