Rob S. of Berkeley Heights, NJ is graduating with his degree in Psychology. Some of his favorite hobbies include watching sports, playing video games, and taking selfies with stranger’s dogs. One of Rob’s favorite experiences at Ohio State was attending the game against TTUN in 2016 and having a sideline pass pregame. Along with the Horseshoe, two of Rob’s favorite places on campus include the top floor of Thompson Library and the CRC drop-in center. After graduation, Rob looks to become more involved with non-profit organizations in the state of Ohio while preparing for graduate school. Rob said the Collegiate Recovery Community helped him in many ways. “It provided me lifelong friends, access to resources on campus, allowed me to grow into the man I am today, and has provided me an authentic college experience.”
Sindhu V. of Dublin, OH is graduating with her degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with an At Risk Youth Specialization. Some of her favorite hobbies include singing, painting, and curling up with a good book. One of Sindhu’s favorite experiences at Ohio State was attending Scarlet Gray and Sober Tailgates. The CRC drop in center and the art spot are her two favorite places on campus. These two places create a safe space for her to go to for when she had a stressful day. After graduation, Sindhu plans to start work as an ABA therapist she hopes to increase her case load until she leaves for her OTA program. Sindhu says the Collegiate Recovery Community has helped her in many ways! Besides helping her stay on track, it has provided her some of her closest friends and fondest college experiences.
Jesse P. of Ann Arbor, MI is graduating with his degree in Logistics Management. Some of his favorite hobbies include fishing, weight lifting, running, swimming, and shooting guns (*pew pew*). Some of Jesse’s favorite experiences at Ohio State include going to the OSU-Penn State game, getting good grades, being close to his mom, and CRC meetings. Jesse told us his favorite place on campus is Lincoln Tower because it is very quiet and convenient to study. After graduation Jesse looks to start a career in logistics or supply chain management. When asked about how the CRC enhanced his experience he told us “I feel that I have a support group and it has made me feel not alone.”
Grace R. of Hilliard, Ohio is graduating with a degree in Social Work. Some of her favorite hobbies include Hiking, horseback riding, and playing with my dog Clue. Some of her favorite experiences at The Ohio State University include being positively influenced by professors and fellow student’s passion. Her favorite place on campus is The CRC “It is a place where I am surrounded by individuals that I relate to and can be authentically me.” After graduation Grace plans on continuing her education through earning a Masters degree in Social Work. Through being involved with the CRC Grace says she has gained a greater since of belonging and connection to campus. “Having support for my education and long-term recovery by a program of people who are eager to celebrate with me when I succeed and to assist me in my times of need is invaluable and I am forever grateful.”
Beth T of Virginia Beach, Virginia is graduating from Ohio State with a degree in Social Work. She is excited to be saving one person at a time with a Minor in Substance Misuse and Addiction. Some of her favorite hobbies include crocheting, binging on Netflix, and taking care of other people’s doggies. Some of Beth’s favorite experiences at the university are with the CRC and the sense of community we have together. She also thoroughly enjoyed going to football games, her experience at the College of Social Work, and being a part of The Ohio State University in general. Her favorite place on campus was the Collegiate Recovery Community drop-in center inside Lincoln Tower’s 12th floor. It is her safe place on campus along with the Horseshoe! Her future plans after graduation include working at Franklin County Children Services as a case worker for a year and then go back for her masters in social work with a MPA minor! This community has enhanced her collegiate experience by “helping me feel a part of, like I belong here. I am someone at OSU!”
Marty Lewis of Cleveland, OH is an alumnus of The Ohio State University and the CRC and graduated with a degree in Communications. He is now a Licensed Mortgage Loan Originator for one of the largest mortgage lenders the country. His interests include stand-up comedy, attending sporting events, hanging out with friends, getting ice cream and sitting around a campfire. He is engaged to his high-school sweet heart and girlfriend of eight years. Together they have three dogs: a six year old Keeshond and two Australian Shepard puppies. Of course, Marty’s favorite place on campus is our CRC drop-in center and his most memorable moment as a Buckeye was celebrating our National Championship victory with his old roommates.
“My journey from addiction to recovery was very humbling. I would also describe it to be well assisted. The number of people, groups and organizations that were willing to help out was impressive, the only thing that I needed to do was to get out of the way and humble myself. My willingness to try things that I have never done before was instrumental in my recovery. As well as being able to stay open minded to take advice from those who had more experience and knew more than I did.” Long-term recovery can mean a lot of things to different people. “To me, being in long-term recovery quite obviously has very little to do with substances and has more to do with how I structure and live my life on a daily basis. Today I have serenity and peace of mind knowing that just because I am clean and sober doesn’t mean that I am immune to the challenges and difficulties of life. The difference is that today I have a solution, an outlet and a support group that I can turn to.” Marty spoke very highly of the CRC. “The CRC enhanced my student experience by keeping me accountable, and helping me prioritize my life. It was in the CRC that I was challenged to set goals that before recovery would have seemed impossible to accomplish”.
As an alumnus of the CRC, we were interested in what his recovery looks like post-graduation. “My entire life has changed upon graduating, I got engaged to the love of my life, began an excellent career and I’m preparing for the next chapter of my life. As my life changes and my environments change, so does my recovery. I began to notice the importance of my recovery more and more as life begins to progress and improve, because none of it would be possible without my recovery.” Marty wanted to let new members of the CRC that “the most important aspect of the Collegiate Recovery COMMUNITY, is the community. A community is only as good as the members that make it up. Commit wholeheartedly to the CRC, make it a priority, take a leadership role and you’ll be amazed. I did and it changed my life.”
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”
– Yehuda Berg
Whether we know it or not, our words carry weight and meaning. When used improperly, language and phraseology can have a lasting and destructive impact on stigmatized societal issues. The substance use disorder (SUD) field is not the only area where this is problematic; there is a plethora of research that has shown individuals with an SUD are viewed more negatively than people with physical or psychiatric disabilities. That is a huge problem considering there was an estimated 20.8 million people who were thought to have a substance use disorder in 2015. More Americans now die every year from accidental drug overdoses than in motor vehicle crashes. An estimated 89% of people in need of treatment are not receiving it.3 These startling statistics affords the community a call to action to be thoughtful about not only what we say, but how we say it. Stigma surrounding SUD is real, and this all-reaching societal epidemic is not going to get better overnight. However, if we change our language, and educate one another, more people may seek out the treatment they so desperately need.
One strategy to shift the way we talk about SUD is to adopt clinical, non-stigmatizing language. Words like “addict”, “alcoholic”, “junkie”, and “drunk” have been ingrained into us with a negative connotation. Other phrases commonly used like “drug habit” are both polarizing and misinformative by implying someone has a choice. These simple little word choices instill false information into our society that can take decades to reeducate. Words like “abuse” or “abuser” can have negative judgements and perceptions which may be the difference between someone receiving punishment or receiving the treatment they need. Additionally, we must adjust the language we use that label whether or not someone is using. When discussing a toxicology screen, the terms “clean” and “dirty” are used which carry negative connotations as opposed to the preferred verbiage of “positive” or negative.” We need to continue to promote the proliferation of these more neutralizing words.
It is important that we continue to drive this life changing message home to ensure that we are decreasing the negative attitudes and misconceptions that surround this fatal disease. Organizations like the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) have begun to require terminology at their conferences:
Instead of “addict,” please use “person with a substance use disorder.” Instead of “addicted to X,” please use “has an X use disorder,” “has a serious X use disorder,” or “has a substance use disorder involving X” (if more than one substance is involved.) Instead of “alcoholic,” please use “person with an alcohol use disorder.” Instead of “drug/substance abuse,” please use “substance use disorder.” Instead of “former addict,” please use “person in recovery” or “person in long-term recovery.”
Here are a few things you can do on your campus to help change the way we talk about addiction and recovery:
– Check marketing materials for stigmatizing language.
– Practice non-stigmatizing and person-first language in your workplace.
– Utilize our upcoming Recovery Ally Training on your campus to educate about the importance of language.
– Do a recovery messaging training with your students in recovery and recovery allies.
– Require conference proposals and presentations to not use stigmatizing language just like NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals
Whether you’re a person in recovery, a recovery ally, or just a friend or family member of someone with the disease of addiction, it falls on all of us to shift the way we talk about SUD. It’s on us to make sure someone suffering doesn’t have to stay in the shadows. We need to continue to get these issues on the table, talk about them and continue to make strides in our communities. Stigma is not inherent, it’s taught. We can change that, one word at a time.
Rob Schilder Student Assistant, Collegiate Recovery Community, Person in long-term recovery
 Corrigan, P.W., Kuwabara, SA., O’Shaughnessy, J. (2009). The public stigma of mental illness and drug addiction: findings from a stratified random sample. Journal of Social Work. (9)(2):139-147.
 Barry, C.L., McGinty, E.E., Pescosolido, B.A., Goldman, H.H. (2014). Stigma, discrimination, treatment effectiveness, and policy: public views about drug addiction and mental illness. Psychiatric Services. (65)(10): 1269-1272.
 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: detailed tables-prevalence estimates, standard errors, p values, and sample sizes. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death, 1999-2015 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2016. Extracted by ONDCP from http://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd-icd10.html on December 8, 2016.
The blog post below was originally posted by our friends at the Ohio Peace Collaborative and was written by Sarah Nerad, our Director of Recovery and Rob Schilder, student assistant at OSU’s Collegiate Recovery Community.
We can no longer debate the harsh reality. The opioid crisis is real. Fentanyl and heroin overdoses continue to rise at an alarming rate. From 2003-2015 2,590 people unintentionally overdosed from opioids in the state of Ohio. This is 84.9% of all accidental overdoses recorded over that time. Recovery supports are becoming more and more important with each passing day. Now more than ever, we need to build out the continuum of care and invest in recovery support services. Whether it’s the language we use, the way in which we view substance use disorders (SUD) in the court of law, or the gaps that we begin to fill, changes need to be made. 89% of people who need treatment are not getting the help they need. Work continues to be done on educating society on one simple message; recovery is possible.
Recovery language is vital to shifting the tides at work. What we say and how we say it has the power to help or hurt. This disease will continue to be viewed through a criminal justice lens as long as we continue to talk about it as such. Derogatory terms like “addict”, “drunk” and “junkie” have negative connotations that have been engrained in us for decades. We see this as criminal behavior because that is what we were taught. If we continue the work of shifting towards proper recovery language then together we can shift the culture towards healing our communities.
“People suffering from a SUD are not bad people trying to get good, they are sick people trying to get well.” Words that echo through recovery circles and treatment centers across the country. Yet incarceration still seems to be the go to for government spending. Studies show that if just 10% of drug related incarcerations were differed to treatment, lifetime societal net benefits reflect $8.5 billion relative to baseline. And if that percentage climbs to the still reasonable 40%, we could see net benefits of $22.5 billion dollars. Treatment is not only cheaper, it is also more effective. In New York state, they saw a 21% decrease in reconviction rates when people received a treatment alternative! While treatment is effective and results in cost savings, it isn’t the end of the continuum.
What we do after initial treatment is paramount to providing those with SUD a continuum of care. Studies show that the change of returning to use rates diminish the longer the individual maintains their recovery. After just five years of remission, return to use rates drop below 15%. The goal here is to ensure that individuals have access to a continuum of care and ongoing recovery supports so they can reach this critical five year mark. There are many ways to foster and develop SUD recovery. Whether its outpatient treatment programs, medically-assisted treatment (MAT) or collegiate recovery programs (CRP), all of these fall on the continuum of care for SUD, and all have been proven effective. Programs like the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery (HECAOD) and CRPs across the country look to foster an environment that promotes the expansion to the continuum of care for people recovering from SUD.
While this crisis may seem daunting, there are things we can do right now to make an impact. Firstly, we should incorporate recovery language in our lives in order to help destigmatize the jaded view of SUD. Treatment is not only more humane than incarceration, it’s more effective. Additionally, look to support legislation that encourages treatment over incarceration and taking a public health approach to ending this epidemic rather than a criminal justice approach. Lastly, we need to continue investing in recovery supports! Programs all across the country are making an impact into the opioid crisis. A SUD is a not a character problem, it’s a community problem. We rise and fall as one, and if we take the proper steps we can all recover, together.
is a Clery Act Program Coordinator and is a very proud Texan from Southlake, Texas. She loves her job at The Ohio State University, and works “with the greatest colleagues in the office of University Compliance and Integrity.” She played the piano for over twenty years, and says it is still one of my favorite things to do. She also enjoys doing Kickboxing and Zumba to stay fit and for the endorphin’s! “I love trying new things, and repeating the best things, with my husband Greg, my dog Mandy, or my best friends! And in my solitary moments, I adore a good cup of coffee and a library book.”
When asked why she was a recovery ally, she told us how someone in recovery had influenced her. “I met an inspiring student who was in recovery at my last institution, and through my relationship with him I learned a lot about recovery and recovery support systems, and how they interact with a students’ experience. I believe that we all need cheerleaders in our lives!”
Melinda’s support for recovery extends beyond just supporting people in recovery; she is also an avid proponent for Collegiate Recovery Communities. “The CRC provides a powerful social network and community that facilitates its students’ support of each other, to authentically live their values.” Her genuine concern for people in recovery on college campuses can be infectious, and her love for collegiate recovery continues to remind us why we do this. “After being in the University environment for over a decade, at five different institutions during that time, and in roles as a student, a graduate student, and now a professional, I have seen the powerful effect that social networks and community have on a student’s choices. We act primarily based on our own values, but we also act based on what we perceive to be the values of those with whom we have our strongest relationships. If students are surrounded by people who are committed to the same values, they are much more likely to achieve their goals!”
Alexander Kiseloff of Columbus is a senior at the Ohio State College of Social Work interested in working in the field of substance misuse. He loves traveling, meeting new people and dogs. His passion is helping others overcome addiction. Alex’s favorite place on campus is Union Hall and has most enjoyed his biology courses. His most memorable moment as a Buckeye was the CRC Trip to Washington D.C for Unite to Face Addiction.
His journey of substance misuse began at 19. “I have struggled with addiction for many years. I was an IV drug user for approximately ten years. Multiple failed treatment attempts and 3 years in jail were the results of my using. I finally found the solution in a 12-step program and stopped using all mind-altering substances. The support I found in my 12-step program, my family, CRC and sober housing have been instrumental in my recovery.” To Alex, life in long-term recovery means life without the use of drugs. “…but it also means to be a good son, friend and productive member of society. It means to have integrity and help others. It means not using no matter what happens in your life.”
Alex spoke very highly of the CRC. “It has given me support I needed as a student who is also in recovery. It is a place that I can go and talk about my challenges in school but also a place where I can share my experience in recovery with other students.” his words of advice to anyone working towards recovery, “I have failed many times to quit drugs. It is something that is difficult to do. For me, it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is so worth it. I just kept on trying, no matter how many times I have failed. Trust the process and you’ll succeed.”