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“On Point Messaging”

Exploring the Addictionary of Recovery Messaging Training

Social stigma has kept recovery voices silent for decades. Research has shown that messaging shifts can open attitudes toward addiction as a disease and recovery as a real thing. This course, developed by Faces and Voices of Recovery, will provide techniques on how to discuss addiction and recovery with family, employers, friends, service providers, the general public and the media.

This training is designed for those in recovery, recovery allies, professionals working in the recovery field and community members wishing to learn about the language of recovery.


After attending this training, participants should be able to:

  • Understand what recovery messaging is
  • Recognize that depending on the type of messaging, it can support or harm people in recovery.
  • Remove barriers to recovery through effective messaging, and through effective recovery messaging, improve the quality of life for those still suffering or recovering from substance use disorders.


After half of a life in addiction, Jimmy Cioe has spent the second half in recovery. He has spent his life studying every facet of this gem we call addiction plus treatment, recovery and healing.   He became licensed in alcohol/drug treatment and, for the last twenty-two years, worked and managed virtually every aspect of the treatment continuum, including a city detox, outreach, case management services, outpatient treatment, in-patient, long-term residential treatment and intervention. This experience includes working with the full gamut of homelessness and mental illness diagnosis.

He currently serves as Program Coordinator of Recovery Initiatives at the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse in Raleigh, NC. He has been licensed/certified in various states including New Mexico, Minnesota, Texas and North Carolina and has also gone beyond recovery and treatment into the study of healing in all its aspects, beginning with nutrition, energy systems (Polarity, Radix, and Craniosacral) and core strength training. His desire is to understand and communicate a holistic approach to healing and to cultivate a sense of history, allowing him to place issues within their broader historical context. His interest and passion is the intersection of psychology, communication and spirituality. Years working with Native tribes in New Mexico grew this perspective leading to presentations on the bigger picture, starting with Recovery Oriented Systems of Care, coupled with greater visibility for Recovery. Through the doorway of Recovery Community Messaging presentations, he is able to synthesize this broad view into a snapshot of solutions, amplifying the beauty of a Recovery Oriented System of Care. It is through this prism, speaking truth to power, that solutions to national problems can be found.

Credit Hours: 3 Hours Pre-Approved NCSAPPB. 

This course is FREE for charities, nonprofit organizations and individuals. You can register for free by emailing: Type “Recovery Messaging” in the subject line and include your full name and contact information (including phone number) in the body of the email.

For business organizations, there is training fee and this fee is dependent on size of organization, annual budget, and number of individuals being trained.  If you are a business organization, email for more details. 


The Impact of Labels and Stigma

Labeling theory is the theory of how the self-identity and behavior of individuals may be influenced by the words used to describe or classify them. It is related to the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping. As a Peer Support Specialist, it is important to use “people first” as well as “respectful” language. People first language means that we do not describe a person in terms of their disability or diagnosis, but rather describes the person as an individual. It is language that demonstrates respect for the individual you are talking to. For example,” Joe is a schizophrenic” puts the emphasis on Joe’s diagnosis, and dismisses him as a person. “Joe is a person who has schizophrenia,” describes Joe as an individual who has a diagnosis. Respectful language avoids labeling and stereotyping labels such as “alcoholic,” “mental patient” or “dope fiend.” Instead, it uses respectful terminology, or avoids pointing out a disability unless it is relevant to the discussion. People who are labeled often internalize these roles, so the Peer Support Specialist should always avoid using negative labels. There is much power in the language we use to describe a person. The words we choose, often with benevolent intention, have the ability to cause the opposite effect.

“Reducing a person to nothing more than their difficulties is one of the most damaging and dehumanizing forms of language. It denies the existence of any facet of the person, any relevant role or characteristics, other than their diagnosis.” (Perkins & Repper, 2001)

In discussing the power of labels, William White (2004) writes that language can:

  • empower and dis-empower
  • humanize or objectify
  • engender compassion or fear and hatred
  • motivate or deflate
  • comfort or wound
  • unite or create enmity (deep rooted mutual hatred)


The most respectful way of referring to PEOPLE is as PEOPLE. Have you ever thought about the language of recovery? By changing our language, we change misperceptions and mistaken beliefs about recovery and the power of each person to achieve their goals and dreams. Here are some examples of current terms and alternative words to describe addiction and recovery in ways that capture the deeper meaning and value of recovery in a positive and non-judgmental fashion:

John is an addict. VS

  • John is a person with a substance use disorder.
  • John is in recovery from drug addiction.

These statements avoid defining the person by their disease.

Joan is in denial. VS

  • Joan is ambivalent about …….
  • Joan is considering many pathways of recovery.

These statements remove the blame and stigma implied.

Pathology-based assessment of the person. VS

  • Strengths-based assessment
  • Recovery includes reminding people of their strengths and offering hope.

Contact us at for more information.