ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Micki Washburn


Purpose: This study seeks to better understand how word choice when referencing people with a substance use disorder is associated with self-compassion and overall recovery capital while in a collegiate recovery program. The main domains to be explored are: 1. how students personally identify, 2. how they prefer to be identified by individuals not in recovery, and 3. how they prefer to be identified by other people in recovery and how their preferences are related to self-reported levels of self-compassion and recovery capital. The information gained from this study can inform collegiate recovery staff, university administration, and peers on how identifying terms impact a student’s self-compassion and comfort within their collegiate recovery program. Methods: This study utilized an exploratory quantitative approach using an anonymous online survey to understand how collegiate recovery students and staff (n = 59) prefer to be identified by individuals not in recovery, and how they prefer to be identified by other people in recovery and how this impacts their recovery capital, self-compassion, as well as enacted, anticipated, and internalized stigma. Results: Significant correlations were found between levels of comfort with affirming and non-affirming language, enacted and anticipated stigma, and recovery capital and self-compassion. Individuals with one year or less of time in recovery had significantly higher levels of internalized stigma, with internalized stigma being negatively related to self-compassion and recovery capital. Participants who identified as male reported being more comfortable than women or non-binary participants with the use of non-affirming language. Students reported being more comfortable with the use of non-affirming language than staff. No significant correlations were found for the following variables: recovery pathway, sexual orientation, region, public or private school. Discussion: Findings from this research project provide insight for collegiate recovery program students, staff, and administrators into how to better support those in recovery. With the increase in recovery ally trainings and person first language, it is still incredibly important for an individual in recovery to be able to express their identity and voice their preferences for how they wish to be referred to while participating in campus and/or community based recovery.


Collegiate recovery, Substance use, Stigma, Recovery capital, Self-compassion


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Social Work Commons