Jackie West of Turquoise Lodge is Changing the Narrative One Email at a Time

Every Friday a pair of peers perform comedy inpatient at Turquoise Lodge Hospital for the “Laugh It Off” education program. The idea is to show that it’s okay to talk about your mental health issues and substance issues, and better yet, it’s okay to laugh at the ludicrous things we do at times. Being able to laugh about these sort of horrible things that happened in our lives takes away some of the power the horrible things hold over us.


If you aren’t familiar with Turquoise Lodge, Turquoise Lodge Hospital provides inpatient detox and rehab services to our community friends experiencing challenges with substances, sometimes with a co-occuring diagnosis.

Our colleague Jackie West at Turquoise Lodge Hospital carries these powerful lines in her email signature that resonate. Think “I have bipolar” rather than “I am bipolar”:


Language is powerful. Choose less stigmatizing words. Be the Change.


Substance Abuse -> Furthers the stigma.

Choose: Substance Misuse


Clean -> Implies a using person is ‘dirty’.

Choose: Sober or Substance-Free


Relapse -> ‘Relapse’ has moral roots.

Choose: Reoccurrence


Addict -> Negative label.

Choose person first: Person with a Substance Use Disorder

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