In Tuesday’s class, Robert Ashford taught us about the Recovery Science Research Collaborative Consensus’s definition of recovery which is the following: recovery is an individualized, intentional, dynamic, and relational process involving sustained efforts to improve wellness. We also learned that stigma is a multidimensional construct that can manifest in a variety of ways, including discrimination. This is defined as the actions people take when they believe a stereotype and then associate the label with other. Discrimination can include a policy that excludes or targets a specific community or group of individuals.

As we discussed, there are certain words and phrases that further perpetuate the stigma surrounding addiction and recovery. We can actively work to fight this process of discrimination by choosing our vocabulary carefully. For example, instead of referring to someone as “being homeless,” it is more respectful and responsible to state that someone is “experiencing homelessness.” Instead of saying that someone is “a recovering alcoholic,” it is more appropriate to say this person is “in long-term recovery.” Another big one was to not use “alcoholism,” and instead refer to it as “alcohol use disorder.” The last big one that stuck out to me was to not to refer to someone’s “recurrence of use,” as “relapsing,” because that individual is not lapping back to where they were in an earlier part of their recovery. As a family member to individuals affected by substance and alcohol use disorders, I appreciated Ashford’s bit on how words like “enabler” can be unfair and hurtful to the loved ones of individuals who are using or are in recovery.