KC’s February Blog – The Importance of Our Words

What’s in a word?  Does it matter whether I use one word or another?  My ever-lovin’ Bride Lucy banned the phrase, “shut up” from her classroom when she taught primary school.  So we weren’t keen on our sons saying that when they were growing up.  That’s because we thought there were kinder ways to talk to each other.

Do you still remember a few kind words that a teacher or someone said to you many years ago?

Many of us have harmful and damaging words ‘burned into our psyche’ that impacted us as children and still reverb and echo with too much strength and influence after we are adults.

I used to have a lot of negative thoughts bouncing around my head.  Not literal voices, but thoughts that were sometimes intrusive and often unhelpful.  Phrases like, “You blew it again!”, “Come on, that’s not very good!” and “That’s not good enough, what’s wrong with you?!”  My mindfulness practice and my recovery community has helped improve this over that last year or so.

I don’t hear those kinds of demeaning or discouraging messages in my mind at all any more.

It’s part of my addiction recovery to work on my self-care and it’s great to (finally) see these tangible improvements.  SMART Recovery has a principle of ‘unconditional positive regard’ that says we deserve (and thrive) with acceptance regardless of our success or failure.  The 12-Step groups have the same thing, but it’s described in spiritual terms, “.. the care of a loving higher power…”.  My experience is love helps heal, regardless of where it’s coming from.

What about words used in statutory service across our county?  Do you like the term, “service user” or “client” or “patient”?  I don’t think we’ll ever get agreement but I read a few comments on LinkedIn last week which made me wonder, is there a better term to replace “substance misuse?”  It sounds formal, but is that needed?  The comment I saw said it was dated, problematic, excessive, but misuse isn’t correct.

A friend who is in recovery said she had always used drugs for the exact purpose they were intended for!   Opioids were created to manage and numb pain.  I think the issue might come from whether ‘misuse’ is seen from a perspective of breaking the law or a perspective of a medical issue.  It seems to me all the evidence, science and experts agree that addiction is, and should be, treated as a medical condition more than a legal one.  But that’s another debate.

What do you think is the best term?  Is it ‘substance misuse’? You can have your say and even suggest an improvement here.

All theses links are correct as of February 2021 and focus on online meetings but check about face to face meetings in your area as well as phone support:

SMART Recovery isn’t a 12 step group, but they are a mutual aid group with many similarities to 12 step.  They welcome anyone wanting to recovery from any addiction (substance and/or behaviour).  They create a space where people don’t need to be labelled like ‘addict’ or ‘alcoholic’, their program is based on psychology and boasts no spiritual aspect.

Cocaine Anonymous groups support other addictions beyond just crack and other forms of cocaine and their website says, “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances.”

Narcotics Anonymous groups also support recovery from more than just narcotics.  Their website says, “..it’s not a specific drug which defines addicts, it’s whether we have an addictive personality. If you want to stop, but cannot on your own, you qualify.”

Alcoholics Anonymous groups were the first free mutual aid group.  Requirements for attendance is a desire to stop using alcohol and they usually limit sharing to the topic of alcohol (unlike the others I’ve listed above).  National Helpline FREE on 0800 9177 650 to talk to a member of AA who has been through addiction, understands it first hand, and is keen to help others find their own recovery.

Finally, CGL is free for anyone in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough seeking help with drugs and/or alcohol (including prescription drugs).

Change Grow Live, Cambridgeshire,  email cambridgeshirereferrals@cgl.org.uk, or phone: 0300 555 0101.

Aspire, CGL Peterborough, phone 01733 895624 or 0800 111 4354 or email peterborough@cgl.org.uk.

best regards,

KC Sign off

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