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Talking About Recovery

http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/pdf/2006_messaging_memo.pdf

I found this on the website faces & Voices Of Recovery. I thought it was worth posting. I think more people might speak out about their addictions and recovery if they only knew where to start. This post will hopefully help people be able to put their thoughts into words.

New Messaging From Faces & Voices Of Recovery: Talking About Recovery

Faces & Voices of Recovery is very excited to share with you language that you can use to talk with the public and policymakers about recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. This messaging is a result of in-depth public opinion research with members of the recovery community and the general public. We encourage you to use this “messaging” or language in all of your recovery advocacy – if you are speaking out as a person in recovery or a family member or friend.

Why We Want To Speak About Recovery With One Voice

Over the last two years, Faces & Voices of Recovery has been working to find a way to describe and talk about recovery so that people who are not part of the recovery community understand what we mean when we use the word “recovery.” One of the important findings from our groundbreaking 2004 survey of the general public was that people believe that the word recovery means that someone is trying to stop using alcohol or other drugs. We realized that we needed to find a way to talk about recovery that would allow us to be clear and believable when describing it in a way that will move our advocacy agenda forward.

There are some important things that we’ve learned from our research about how to talk with people about recovery:

1. Making it personal, so that we have credibility

2. Keeping it simple and in the present tense, so that it’s real and understandable

3. Helping people understand that recovery means that you or the person that you care about is no longer using alcohol or other drugs. We do this by moving away from saying “in recovery” to saying “in long-term recovery,” talking about stability and mentioning the length of time that person is in recovery

4. Talking about your recovery…not your addiction

5. Helping people understand that there’s more to recovery than not using alcohol or other drugs, but that part of recovery is creating a better life.

Messaging Or Language For A Person In Recovery:

I’m (your name) and I am in long-term recovery, which means that I have not used (insert alcohol or drugs or the name of the drugs that you used) for more than (insert the number of years that you are in recovery) years. I am committed to recovery because it has given me and my family new purpose and hope for the future, while helping me gain stability in my life. I am now speaking out because long-term recovery has helped me change my life for the better, and I want to make it possible for others to do the same.

Messaging Or Language For A Family Member Or Friend Of A Person In Recovery:

I’m (your name). My (insert son, daughter, mom, dad, friend) is in long-term recovery, which means that (insert he/she) has not used (insert alcohol or drugs or the name of the drugs that he or she used) for more than (insert the number of years) years. I am committed to recovery because it has given me and my family new purpose and hope for the future. I am now speaking out because long-term recovery helped us change our lives for the better, and I want to make it possible for others to do the same.

What’s Not In The Message And Why:

“I’m a recovering addict (alcoholic).”  When people hear the words addict or alcoholic, it reinforces the idea of a revolving door; that you or the person in your family is still struggling with active addiction.

Information about particular pathways to recovery.  The message does not mention a particular pathway to recovery, addressing concerns that people in 12-step programs, whether AA, NA, Al0-Anon or other programs may have about their anonymity.

A definition of recovery.  This message describes recovery, so that the person you are speaking with or the audience you are addressing, understands what recovery means, that you or your family member is in long-term recovery and that others should have the opportunity to recover as well. You are not speaking out as a physician who is diagnosing a person who needs treatment referral or as an insurance company deciding whether or not someone’s care should be covered.

“Addiction is a disease.” “Addiction is a health problem.” In our research, as we’re sure you know from your own experience, we found that many people believe that addiction is a moral issue, not a health problem. Even when someone says they believe it’s a health problem, when we scratched below the surface, we found that because of their personal experiences and/or prejudices, it’s difficult for many Americans to truly believe that addiction is a disease or a health problem.

We have side-stepped engaging in a discussion about whether or not addiction is a health issue and gone straight to our message: Real people, their sons and daughters, friends, neighbors and co-workers are in long-term recovery from addiction and their lives, and the lives of their families are better because of it. That’s why we need to make it possible for even more people to get the help they need, and once they are in recovery, remove barriers that keep them from long-term recovery.

How And Where To Use This Message:

We hope that you will use this message, day in and day out, in all of your advocacy work.”Staying on Message” means using the same message over and over again, until it becomes part of our common understanding. You may get sick of saying it, but a unifies message, from the entire community is what we need to do now. This basic message will help us maintain our focus and continuity as it gets integrated into everything that we do. In the future, when there’s greater public understanding of recovery, we will be able to change our basic message.

Potential Opportunities To Use These Messages Include:

* With the media on all levels

* In coalition meetings

* With supporters

* In meetings with legislators

* In materials you develop to help you drive your overall strategies

In short, any time you write or speak about recovery, publicly or privately, remember to use these messages.

Putting long-term recovery messaging in a public context: There’s a reason that people all over our country are organizing to support recovery – to change local, state and national policies that restrict access to recovery and remove barriers to sustained recovery. This messaging is a key part of recovery advocacy issue campaigns.

For example:

In early 2006 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration restored funding for the Recovery Community Services Program (RCSP) after a successful advocacy campaign led by Faces & Voices of Recovery. After our victory, hundreds of recovery community organizations applied for the grants, but only seven will be funded. Looking ahead, we will be asking for an expansion of the program, the only federal program supporting the work of recovery community organizations. To use this messaging to ask that more organizations receive RCSP support, a recovery advocate would say,

“I’m (your name) and I am in long-term recovery, which means that I have not used (insert alcohol or drugs or the name of drugs that you used) for more than (insert the number of years that you are in recovery) years.

I am committed to recovery because it has given me and my family new purpose and hope for the future, while helping me gain stability in my life.

I am now speaking out because long-term recovery has helped me change my life for the better, and I want to make it possible for others to do the same.

I know that recovery support services help people newly in recovery find jobs, housing and transportation, making it possible for them to achieve long-term recovery. Hundreds of recovery community organizations applied for the federal government’s Recovery Community Services Program, yet only seven grants were made in 2006. If we want to make it possible for even more  people to achieve long-term recovery, we urge you to quadruple funding for the Recovery Community Services Program.”

Another example:

Nationally, more than four million Americans are denied the right to vote as a result of laws that prohibit voting by felons or ex-felons. In 48 states (with the exception of Maine and Vermont) and the District of Columbia prisoners cannot vote, in 36 states felons on probation or parole are disenfranchised, and in11 sates a felony conviction can result in a lifetime ban long after the completion of a sentence.

“I’m (your name) and I am in long-term recovery, which means that I have not used (insert alcohol or drugs or the name of the drugs you used) for more than (insert the number of years that you are in recovery) years.

I am committed to recovery because it has given me and my family new purpose and hope for the future, while helping me gain stability in my life.

I am now speaking out because long-term recovery has helped me change my life for the better, and I want to make it possible for others to do the same.

I am one of more than four million  Americans who have been denied the right to vote because of a criminal conviction while I was using drugs. People in recovery can’t fully participate in our communities without our right to vote.

Faces & Voices of Recovery will be using this messaging in all of our work that we do. We encourage you to do the same!

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  1. January 18, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    These are great suggestions.

    Changing the way we speak/talk about our addiction can do huge things for changing the way people view addiction!

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