The Christian Social Worker in Recovery: A Personal Reflection on Professional Stigma, Bias and Discrimination

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Denise L. Jaillet Keane


Christian, Social worker, recovery, substance use, stigma, discrimination, AA, alcoholism


As a professional social worker in long-term substance use recovery, I have come face to face with stigma, bias and discrimination regarding those who struggle with the disease of addiction.  I have made choices regarding when and where and if to disclose that I am a person in recovery.  I have listened to colleagues engaging in “us” and “them” conversations, forgetting that I am both them and us them and us us and them, not realizing how offensive and judgmental their language was.  Funders overlooked my identity as a person in recovery, as they requested agencies to hire more “peer mentors”, but did not count recovering clinicians, or senior management.  The result of a qualitative self-interview on the experiences of being a Christian social worker who just happens to be that 1 in 7 who has faced a substance use disorder, this paper presents a person-centered perspective regarding working as, or with, a social worker in recovery.

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