• South Carolina Recovery Housing Association

The Language of Recovery

Why is it important to change the language we have become accustom to using within our recovery groups? How many times have you heard; you would do whatever it took to get high, you can do whatever it takes to stay clean?

Let us think about that for a minute. When we were getting high, we were lying, cheating, stealing, selling ourselves and other ugly behaviors to get that next one. Now we are in recovery. If we cannot get to a meeting because we do not have a ride, should we steal so we can get to the meeting? The idea of recovery is to help us stop participating in all those ugly behaviors of our past. The language we use within our recovery group does filter out into the public.

I was sitting in an outpatient treatment facility and listening to how the front desk person was talking to the individuals who were coming to the facility for help. There were several individuals struggling with getting to the facility because of lack of transportation. I heard the employee tell people that they did whatever they had to, to get high, they can do whatever they have to, to get to their appointments.

This employee has just told this person who is suffering and not sure if they have the strength or if there is even any hope they can have a life without using that they need to rely on their old degrading behaviors to access the help they so desperately need. That employee is not in recovery, but somehow heard this message and believes that saying this will help someone who is desperate and struggling.

Do you think that person ever got the help they needed? How would you have felt if this were you? I know if it were me, I would have left and never came back because that conversation would have confirmed the fact that there was no hope for me.

The language we use in our recovery circles ends up finding its way into the public’s vocabulary. It reinforces stigma. It reinforces the belief that we are less than and unable to be successful members of society. Is that really what we want?

Written By: Nicole Criss, CPSS