Recovery Language Matters

Recovery Language Matters

Category: Trainings, Webinars

Posted on July 19th, 2022

Thursday July 28th, 2022: 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM CST

Register Here 

Presented by TAADAS and BlueCare Tennessee

The field of behavioral health has been stuck between a biopsychosocial model supporting medically accurate language and interventions and a moral model that utilizes shaming as an intervention tool. Approaching mental health diagnoses, including substance use disorders, with a chronic illness management framework like HIV or diabetes reduces stigma and improves outcomes by utilizing individualized treatment plans and goals (ASAM, 2018).

Stigmatizing language persists despite evidence of its harm. The stigma feedback loop (Avery & Avery, 2019) demonstrates that negative perceptions about treatment lead to stigma, stigmatizing language, and an ineffective treatment system that people avoid. Stigmatizing language has a measurable negative effect on medical care, separate from mental health or substance use interventions, and policy development (Kelly et al, 2010; Kelly & Westerhoff, 2010).

Behavioral health specialists serving on interdisciplinary teams are well-positioned to confront stigmatizing language and policies and shaming approaches to treatment by elevating the dignity and worth of the person.


April Mallory, LCSW, MAC, is the program director of the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Assessment Program for professionals. She has a background in social work education, psychiatric social work, and substance misuse treatment.

Jami Hargrove, LMSW is a Substance Use Disorder Treatment Specialist in the Collegiate Recovery Program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she works with college students along the substance use spectrum, from those in active addiction to those in recovery.