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Why Language Accessibility Matters

As I am gearing up to publish my first book (yay!), I am working with my publisher to determine the need for my book to be translated into other languages, specifically in Spanish. I’ll be honest with you all. Language accessibility was never something that I thought about. This is humbling and downright embarrassing to admit. But if I’ve learned anything at all from my own recovery journey, it is that being honest about the hard stuff is what can propel us into change and healing.

I’m getting real here: I’ve been in the recovery advocacy space for over a decade and have thought little about how an individual’s lack of recovery resources in their own language impacts all of us. It wasn’t until a group of advocates, including Angel Lagares from LARA (Latino Addiction Recovery Association), introduced me to the harsh reality that the work I was doing in English wasn’t as helpful as I thought it was.

According to a recent Forbes Article, “Spanish is spoken by more than 559 million people globally. Of those, 460 million are native speakers, making Spanish the language with the second largest population of native speakers in the world.”[i] The United States holds the second largest (to Mexico) population of Spanish speakers.

The Pew Research Center also states that there are over 41 million Americans who speak Spanish as their primary language, with over 12 million who are bilingual. That’s over 13% of the entire population of the United States speaking Spanish at home.[ii]

So, what does this mean if at least 1 in 3 American households are impacted by addiction?

There is an unprecedented need for recovery resources (and this includes books!) available in English and Spanish.

Addiction is universal. Addiction is going to affect everyone. When we create systems of support, we need to create universal systems.

Clearly, there is a large percent of the population who can benefit from more language accessibility when it comes to things like prevention, harm reduction strategies, treatment, recovery housing, and peer recovery services, just to name a few.

Will you join me in shining a light on this important issue?

Listen Your Bright Recovery Podcast with Angelo Lagares here.

Angelo Lagares has worked as an activist and leader in prevention in treatment services internationally. Angelo is a consultant in cultural and linguistic responsive recovery spaces, Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Recovery Support Specialist, has trained with the Boston University Public Health and CASA for The Joined Together program, studied to be a Certified Addiction Professional, and was a Human services specialist at Boricua College in NY. He was also one of fifty national recovery advocates to be chosen to lead a program funded by Facebook, Mobilize Recovery, that aimed at changing public and professional attitudes about addiction recovery and breaking stigma surround substance use disorders. Angelo is the founder of the first Latino Advocacy non-profit organization called LARA that works to change policy and has gone as far as meeting with Congress regarding the importance of reducing health disparities and to improve the quality of services offered to Latinos. He currently lives in Boynton Beach, Fl and travels to South America regularly to spread a message of recovery and hope in the Latino community while working a program he created called “Recovery without Borders.”


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