Glossary – Drug Addiction Treatment Terms

addiction definitionsThe early stages of recovery for any addict usually include research and LOTS of it. In fact, many addicts and their families actually know very little about addiction until the disease has already created such sustained consequences that the thought of even getting help is overwhelming. At the addiction glossary can help you to better understand the terms that are used throughout the process of understanding addiction, finding treatment and getting yourself or a loved one on the road to recovery.

Take some time to review the glossary today and become an addiction expert–this is one of many ways that you can better understand this disease and what it takes to overcome it.

12-step program

A substance abuse or addiction support group providing social, emotional, and informational support for individuals seeking to maintain their recovery and sobriety. The 12-step model, a common mutual aid system in addiction recovery, is not a form of treatment but rather a source of support and fellowship for addicts in recovery.

A Way of Life (AWOL)

A form of meeting and support group devoted to studying the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.


The abbreviation for Alcoholics Anonymous, an alcohol addiction support group.

AA Grapevine

The official international journal for Alcoholics Anonymous, also available in Spanish under the name La Vina, offering both in-print and online subscriptions.

Absolute thought warning (ATW)

The therapeutic idea of words that we identify in our thinking that describe life in a black-and-white demanding way.


Abstinence is the process or practice of restraining oneself from the indulgence in drugs or alcohol or any other action or behavior. According to Merriam-Webster disctionary, to practice abstinence is to stop the engagement in use of intoxicating beverages or to inhibit improper behaviors.

Abstinence Acceptance

Abstinence acceptance is the idea that an addict will get into their heads when they finally realize that the ONLY way they can quit using drugs or alcohol is to abstain completely. This is an understanding that they cannot moderate their drug or alcohol use nor can they use “just one” or have “just a drink.” Abstinence acceptance is recognition by the addict that addiction is chronic and that it will NEVER be safe to use drugs or alcohol following the time when a user decides to quit.


Abuse is defined as a long-term, pathological use of substances such as drugs or alcohol which is characterized by intoxication, an inability to cut back or reduce daily consumption or use, and interruption of physical and social functioning as a result of such drug or alcohol use. Generally abuse occurs as a lead to addiction.

Abuse Liability

Each drug has what is known as an “abuse liability” meaning that all drugs or substances have a potential for addiction. The abuse liability is the potential for a specifically substance such as alcohol or a drug to be abused and to cause addiction. The FDA determines the abuse liability through a series of tests on laboratory animals as well as humans and in return provides an abuse liability based on the potential for the substance use to be harmful or addictive as well as on how effective the drug or substance is in treating an illness or other condition.


Abbreviation for “adult child of an alcoholic”.


Acamprosate is a medication commonly prescribed in the treatment of alcoholism to help reduce the user’s desire to consume alcohol. A prescription is necessary for this medication as very serious interactions may occur IF alcohol is consumed while Acamprosate is used, however this medication has been found to be highly effective in reducing repeat relapse for those struggling with alcoholism and require post-withdrawal maintenance for long-term sober living.


A state of acceptance means to come to terms with the reality of the way things are without anger or seeking to change the past, regardless of how one feels about it. In addiction recovery, acceptance may refer specifically to acceptance of the facts that one has an addiction; they cannot control their intake of a substance; and that their addiction has caused harm to both themselves and others.

Accepts Recovery Vouchers

Rehab centers that accept recovery vouchers are available to help lower income individuals pay for the addiction treatment that they desperately need and deserve. Many different types of recovery vouchers may be available state-to-state or even in different counties within a state. Individual rehab centers may also offer their own recovery vouchers to patients that are deemed “eligible” for their care at a reduced cost. If you’re looking for a low-or-no cost solution to rehab, finding a center that accepts recovery vouchers may be the answer.


A toxic substance found in alcohol.


Mild, over-the-counter pain relievers used to relieve headaches, stomach aches, and muscle aches.


Actiq is an opioid pain medication that is commonly prescribed to cancer patients for “breakthrough” pain that is not easily controlled by other treatment methods. Otherwise known as Fentanyl Citrate, Actiq, though used for the treatment of severe pain, is highly addictive and should ONLY be used under the direct supervision of a treating physician.

Acts of self-care

Self care encompasses any action that directly impacts, repairs, and comforts one’s own self in a healthy, constructive way. One of the four daily rituals of recovery in many recovery program models, acts of self care are centered on a sense of responsibility to oneself and the importance of prioritizing one’s own experience in recovery.

Acultural style of recovery

An individualistic form of recovery in which the individual does not seek allegiance with other people in recovery, choosing not to identify with a larger recovery community.

Acute amnesia

A loss of memory resulting from a period of extreme intoxication.

Acute care

Short-term, critical care provided in intensive care units and emergency rooms for those who are severely intoxicated or dangerously ill.

Acute Intoxication

Acute intoxication is a term used to describe the intoxication level of an individual who has consumed alcohol too quickly or in large amounts. Individuals that are sensitive to alcohol can quickly become acutely intoxicated and may suffer serious consequences as a result. Acute intoxication is another way of saying alcohol poisoning.


Adderall is a medication used in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Available in both an immediate and extended release tablet, Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that acts upon the Central Nervous System (CNS) of the user’s body. For those who struggle with ADHD, adderall can be a game changer as it improves awareness and increases the development of serotonin and dopamine. However, for users who are not properly prescribed Adderall, this highly addictive substance can quickly lead to a wide range of serious complications including depression, anxiety, and overdose.


An addict is an individual that is physically and psychologically addicted to a drug, alcohol or compulsive behavior that interrupts daily life. Addicts suffer from the disease of addiction and often require professional treatment in order to overcome the disease and to stop their addictive behaviors. Many different types of addicts exist as addiction impacts the lives of those who are rich, poor, educated, under-educated and every socioeconomic status and race in between.


Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by repeat relapse. Addiction occurs when an individual is physically and psychologically compelled to continue taking part in the use of drugs or alcohol, or to perform compulsive behaviors that interrupt daily routines and the ability to function regularly. While many different signs of addiction may be present depending on the individual, the most common signs of addiction include an inability to give up compulsive behaviors including drug or alcohol use, changes in appearance or activities in order to continue taking part in addictive behaviors, and struggling with consequences as a result of these behaviors.

Addiction Assessment

An addiction assessment is part of the first major step towards getting treatment for a drug or alcohol problem. During an addiction assessment, the addict answers a series of questions either to a nurse, counselor or intake professional or at home in the privacy of their home to determine how addicted they may be to drugs, alcohol, sex or other compulsive behaviors. Many options for self-testing are available to find out if you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction.

Addiction Counselor

An addiction counselor helps patients who struggle with alcoholism, drug addiction or other behavioral disorders to find ways to cope with underlying issues that may be causing their addictive behaviors. These professionals offer support to help patients and their families to overcome addiction through various behavior modification techniques including CBT and other behavioral therapy programs.

Addiction Cycle

The circular pattern common in each form of addiction. Some perspectives of the addiction cycle describe it as occuring in four distinct steps: 1. An emotional trigger; 2. Negative feelings; 3. Substance use in order to cope; and 4. Shame and withdrawal.

Addiction illegal/illicit drugs

Drugs that are not produced with medical intent and are illegal to produce, use, and sell.

Addiction Medicine

Addiction medicine is the clinical term for doctors who specialize in the treatment of those who are addicted to drugs, alcohol or compulsive behaviors such as the excessive use of the internet, pornography or sex. Although many of the behavioral disorders that are considered addictions are not commonly treated in addiction medicine, drug and alcohol use can be treated by Doctors of Addiction Medicine.

Addiction medicine physician

Addiction medicine physicians are physicians with a primary medical specialty other than psychiatry who are certified in addiction medicine by either ABPM (American Board of Preventive Medicine), ABAM (American Board of Addiction Medicine), or AOA (American Osteopathic Association).

Addiction ministries

Recovery support services and treatment offerings made possible via the local church or network of churches as part of its community outreach program.

Addiction Psychiatrist

An addiction psychiatrist receives formal training in the treatment of those who struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol. Addiction psychiatry is a sub-specialty within the fields of psychiatry and medicine. Professionals must receive at least one year of advanced training and pass examination by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in order to receive certification in addiction treatment.

Addiction Treatment

Patients addicted to drugs or alcohol often require treatment for the disease of addiction in order to stop unhealthy behaviors and learn how to avoid relapse. Addiction treatment is the specialty of providing patients with care that focuses on changing addictive behaviors while addressing the physical, emotional and psychological needs of the patient to help him or her heal and overcome addiction. No two addiction treatment programs or regimens are the same as each patient is treated based on his or her unique needs. Detox, behavioral therapy, physical therapy, medical care and support are combined to make up addiction treatment programs that provide the first step in the journey to recovery.

Addiction Treatment Center

An addiction treatment center is a facility that provides special care for those struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol. These centers offer assessment for a wide range of behavioral disorders in addition to the care provided to addicts. Not all addiction treatment centers are able to prescribe medication or to assess psychiatric conditions but most provide a range of treatments including medical care, psychiatric care, support and therapy in either an inpatient or outpatient setting.

Addiction Treatment Programs

Addiction treatment programs are found throughout the country as well as around the world offering help for those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Various types of addiction treatment programs are available including counseling, 12 step programs, non-12step programs and behavioral therapy programs. Depending on individual patient needs, addiction treatment programs may offer residential treatment or outpatient services with costs ranging from free to upwards of $40K per month. Patients see therapists, psychiatrists, counselors, doctors and other medical staff according to their unique needs while in an Addiction treatment program.

Addiction-only services

A form of addiction treatment program that, either by law or regulation or for lack of resources, cannot accommodate patients with psychiatric illnesses in addition to addictions that require ongoing treatment (no matter how stable the illness or well-functioning the patient is).


A physician who specializes in addiction medication and treatment.

Addictive behaviors

Actions committed repeatedly and compulsively by a person with a chemical substance dependence, often resulting from addictive thoughts and obsessions, despite the negative effect said actions may have on the individual’s life and health.

Addictive personality

A set of characteristic personality traits that make an individual more susceptible to substance addiction or abuse.


Abbreviation for attention-deficient hyperactivity disorder, a chronic disorder characterized by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity.


A stimulant drug similar to amphetamines, commonly used as an appetite suppressant that can effect the central nervous system, with addictive properties.


The way in which a substance is introduced into the body, ranging from oral ingestion; intravenous, subcutaneous, or intramuscular injection; inhalation; smoking, or absorption through the skin or mucosal surfaces.

Adult Children Of Alcoholics (ACOA)

A recovery program and support group for adults whose lives have been negatively effected as a result of being raised in an alcoholic home. ACOA is based on and follows the 12-step program integral to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Advanced program

A substance abuse treatment program with the capacity to provide comprehensive, integrated care for clients with co-occurring disorders, offering treatment for both disorders simultaneously.

Adventure therapy

A form of experiential therapy that involves various types of “adventure”, most of which are conducted outdoors.

Adverse reaction

A detrimental, undesired reaction to a particular drug, indicating a toxic physical or psychological reaction to drug consumption.


Speaking on behalf of those who are unable to speak for themselves.

Affective Disorder, Residual, Alcohol- Or Drug-Related

Changes in affect that persist beyond the period of inebriation, or the period during which the drug might be reasonably expected to have a perceivable an impact on the user.


The degree of strength with which a drug binds to its receptor.


Another term for continuing care, or the continuity of care, vigilance, and attention an individual must maintain over their recovery following discharge from an addiction treatment program or facility.

Age at onset

The age at which an individual’s drug use begins. Determining age of onset is particularly important in addiction assessment.


A symptom of depressant or stimulant withdrawal characterized by restlessness and the inability to keep still.


A substance that mimics the effect of a certain drug by binding to and activating neural receptors in the brain in similar ways. For example, methadone is an agonist used in the treatment of opioid addiction and can help keep withdrawal symptoms at a manageable level.


A spin-off of Alcoholics Anonymous, a support group for family and friends of people who abuse alcohol.


A recovery and support group for people from ages 9-19 which helps youth with alcoholic friends or relatives whose addiction is negatively impacting their lives in some way.

Alcohol Abuse

Generally, the early stage of alcohol use in which dependence could begin is known as alcohol abuse. During this time, problematic drinking is taking place and the user is likely struggling with the early signs of an addiction to alcohol such as trouble with work, home or school, legal problems, excessive drinking, relationship problems and other consequences. Left untreated, early alcohol abuse can quickly spiral out of control and become alcohol addiction.

Alcohol Addiction

Widely known as alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol addiction is a chronic disease in which a user drinks alcoholic beverages excessively and is dependent upon this substance in order to “survive” each day. Alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence will get worse over time and may result in fatal consequences including accident, injury, or terminal disease of the liver, kidneys, heart or other organs.

Alcohol and drug disease

The definition of alcohol or drug addiction in terms of a mental health condition.

Alcohol and drug related problems

A general descriptor for the wide range of difficulties that may result from alcohol and/or drug addiction.

Alcohol control

Regulations seeking to control and/or restrict the production and sale of alcoholic beverages, administered either by state law or specific government agencies.

Alcohol dependence

An extreme stage of addiction that occurs after years of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol Flush Reaction

Flushing and redness of the face, neck, and shoulders as a result of alcohol consumption, sometimes occurring alongside nausea, heart palpitations, and dizziness.

Alcohol poisoning

The consumption of alcohol to the point that basic mental, physical and emotional functions are no longer able to work properly, resulting in symptoms such as irregular breathing; unresponsiveness; pale, clammy, or blue-tinged skin; low body temperature; vomiting; confusion; incoherency; a comatose state. If the individual is unresponsive or cannot be woken up, call emergency services immediately, as alcohol poisoning is life threatening regardless of gender, height, weight, or tolerance.

Alcohol withdrawal

The physical and psychological effects experienced by an individual addicted to alcohol who stops drinking. See Withdrawal.

Alcohol, non-consumptive

A term for products containing ethanol, but not intended for human consumption. Some substances such as antifreeze, rubbing alcohol, methylated spirits, or mouthwashes may have addictive properties despite their non-consumptive intent.

Alcohol-induced psychotic disorder

A pattern of psychosis resulting from chronic excessive alcohol consumption.

Alcohol-related birth defect

See Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

Alcohol-related brain damage

An umbrella term for chronic impairment of higher mental functions, including defects in abstract thought, memory, conceptualization, planning, and processing of complex material, or other functions associated with the frontal and limbic system.

Alcohol-related disabilities

Any and all medical consequences, whether illnesses or other problems, resulting from alcohol abuse or dependence that diminish an individual’s ability to function to capacity.

Alcohol-related liver disease

Damage to the liver due to excessive drinking. Because the liver helps process and eliminate alcohol from the body, excessive drinking can lead to interference in ability to process alcohol, resulting in conditions such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.

Alcohol-related psychosis

A severe mental condition in which thoughts and emotions are impaired to the point that the individual loses contact with external reality, suffering hallucinations, and delusions. Symptoms of alcohol-related psychosis might occur shortly after intoxication or during withdrawal.

Alcohol-sensitizing drug

A substance prescribed to help an individual maintain abstinence by causing unpleasant side effects if alcohol is consumed, such as facial flushing, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, and dizziness. Alcohol-sensitizing drugs are prescribed therapeutically, and common varieties include disulfiram (Antabuse) and calcium carbamide.

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy

Most commonly occurs in drinkers of at least 10 years duration. Patients most often present with biventricular heart failure and show symptoms such as shortness of breath on exertion and while recumbent (nocturnal dyspnoea), palpitations, ankle oedema, atrial fibrillation (a form of arrhythmia) and abdominal distension due to ascites. Also known as alcoholic heart muscle disease.

Alcoholic cirrhosis

The most severe form of alcoholic liver disease, occurring most commonly in the 40- to 60-year age group after a minimum of 10 years of problematic drinking. Alcoholic cirrhosis is characterized by necrosis, permanent damage to the liver, and can ultimately lead to liver cancer. Patients may show signs of hepatitis and report general, nonspecific symptoms such as nausea, weight loss, muscle wasting and weakness.

Alcoholic dementia

A mental disorder resulting from an extended period of alcohol abuse, the symptoms of which can resemble Alzheimer’s disease. Sufferers may experience a loss of short-term memory; confusion; deficiency in decision making; inability to recognize familiar people, form sentences, follow conversations, or concentrate; and/or undergo certain personality changes.

Alcoholic fatty liver

The earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease, in which the damaged liver is no longer able to process fats, resulting in an accumulation of fat around the organ. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and weight loss, but it is possible to show no visible symptoms.

Alcoholic gastritis

A usually self-limiting condition typically occurring after an alcoholic binge, characterized by inflammation of the stomach’s mucosal lining.

Alcoholic hallucinations

Visual or aural delusions as a result of an extended period of alcoholism.

Alcoholic hepatitis

A liver disorder characterized by liver inflammation and necrosis due to chronic consumption of hazardous quantities of alcohol. Alcoholic hepatitis is a common precursor to alcoholic cirrhosis and is often diagnosed based on symptoms such as jaundice, tender hepatomegaly, and sometimes ascites and hemorrhage.

Alcoholic pancreatis

A pancreatic disorder, either acute or chronic, characterized by inflammation, necrosis, fibrosis, and malfunction, usually as the result of consumption of harmful quantities of alcohol. Sufferers of the acute form may display symptoms such as upper abdominal pain, loss of appetite (anorexia), and vomiting, and can be further complicated by hypotension, renal failure, lung disease, and psychosis. The chronic form may present with abdominal pain, anorexia, and weight loss. In addition, sufferers might show signs of malabsorption and/or nutritional deficiency (signs of pancreatic deficiency) or the endocrine functions of the pancreas (e.g. malabsorption, nutritional deficiency) or the endocrine functions (diabetes mellitus).

Alcoholic paranoia

A variety of psychotic disorder resulting from alcohol use in which self-referential delusions or delusions of persecution are common. Alcoholic jealousy is sometimes included under this definition.

Alcoholics Anonymous

A voluntary, anonymous recovery program concerned with helping alcoholics in recovery achieve long-term sobriety, as well as help other alcoholics seeking full recovery.

Alcoholism, disease concept of

The viewing of alcoholism as a disease in the true sense of the word, resulting from biology and family history.


A severe level of alcohol dependence, at which point the user regularly consumes large quantities of alcoholic beverages in order to maintain high blood alcohol levels. Alcoholization is characterized by a loss of control over drinking habits even to the detriment of physical and psychological health and severe social and professional consequences; preoccupation with alcohol; and frequent intoxication.


A term for the study and science of alcohol-related phenomena.


The inability to describe one’s own thoughts and feelings pertaining addiction or substance abuse recovery. The individual may find traditional words and phrasing insufficient in accurately depicting their experience with addiction and recovery.


An opioid analgestic, typically administered via injection, often used as a narcotic pain reliever in the treatment of moderate to severe pain.


Plant-produced, organic compounds which are the active ingredients in many drugs.

Allies of Recovery

Also called Friends of Recovery, a movement which includes not only those who are currently in recovery but supporters as well, in the recovery community. Recovery allies, though they themselves have not suffered an addiction, recognize the importance of supporting recovery programs on a community scale and seek to better understand addiction.

Alprazolam Intensol

A short-acting benzodiazepine drug used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, and panic attacks. Effects include those of anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxants, and is a commonly abused street drug.


Ambien is a sleeping medication commonly prescribed to help those struggling with insomnia. This medication is addictive and may cause dependence if taken without the supervision of a doctor or when taken for a prolonged period of time. If you become dependent on Ambien, you may require professional rehab in a drug rehab center in order to overcome the dependence. Symptoms of withdrawal from Ambien are likely to occur if you quit taking the drug after a physical dependence has occurred.


Step nine in the 12-step recovery program invented by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, in which individuals in recovery acknowledge the harm their addiction has caused to others, admits that they were wrong, and sincerely apologizes, seeking to make things right in the safest, healthiest way possible.

Amesthystic agent

A substance that reduces or mitigates the intoxicating effects of alcohol, either by accelerating alcohol metabolism in the liver or inhibiting the effects of alcohol on the central nervous system.


A loss of memory, whether permanent or temporary, often induced by overdose or other drug use.

Amnesic syndrome, alcohol- or drug-induced

Chronic impairment of recent and remote memory as a result of substance abuse. While the immediate recall is usually preserved and remote memory is impaired less than recent, sufferers experience an inability to learn new material, and display disturbance in understanding time, sense, and ordering of events.


A colorless, crystalline barbituate substance used mainly as a sedative.

Amotivational syndrome

A controversial aggregate of features said to be associated with substance use, such as apathy, loss of effectiveness, diminished capacity to carryout complex or long-term plans, low frustration tolerance, impaired concentration, and difficulty in following routines. Most commonly reported in connection with cannabis use, these features may simply reflect the effects of chronic cannabis intoxication.


Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that can elevate blood pressure and increase metabolism. They are commonly abused for their potential to promote weight loss, improve alertness or ability to stay awake and reduce sluggishness. However, they are highly addictive and can lead to a wide range of complications if used for a prolonged period of time or in excess. Amphetamine addiction often requires professional treatment in a drug rehab center to ensure continued sobriety and healing.

Amphetamine Detox

Amphetamine detox is the process of safely eliminating amphetamines from the body through abstinence. Detox centers provide around-the-clock treatment and care to those struggling with amphetamine addiction offering medical intervention and support resources as needed for recovery.

Amphetamine psychosis

A severe disorder characterized by paranoid delusions; auditory and tactile hallucinations; hyperactivity; volatile moods; or some combination of these, as a result of chronic consumption of moderate-to-high doses of amphetamines. The sufferer may display hostile behavior and a tendency towards unprovoked violence.


Highly addictive stimulant drugs that work by stimulating the central nervous system, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. Amphetamines are often referred to as “speed”.

Amplification effect

The enhancement and strengthening of recovery support and treatment services by combining or strategically sequencing particular interventions, activities, or experiences, resulting in changes of greater intensity than would occur if the therapeutic elements were introduced independently of one another, or in less effective sequences.


Medication that reduces and treats pain.


A substance that numbs physical sensation and awareness.

Angel dust

A term for PCP, or Phencyclidine, a dissociative recreational drug with neurotoxic and hallucinogenic effects. The effects of PCP typically last a few hours, but the drug remains in the body for much longer.

Anger management

A treatment program for individuals who cannot effectively control anger and whose anger interferes with their lives or endangers the safety of themselves or others.

Animal assisted therapy (AAT)

A unique form of therapy in which bonds between animals and humans are used to facilitate both mental and physical healing.


A discipline that functions as the spiritual foundation for Alcoholics Anonymous, intended to help the group govern itself on principles rather than personalities.


The brand name for disulfiram, a medication used in the treatment of alcoholism by inducing unpleasant side effects if even a small quantity of alcohol is consumed.


A drug that nullifies, or cancels out, the effects of another by binding to receptors and eliciting no physiological response.

Antidepressant abuse

Improper use of non-dependence-producing substances meant to treat diagnosed depression.


Prescription drugs intended to treat depression in both children and adults, and sometimes concurrent disorders such as anxiety, OCD and PTSD.

Antiepileptic drug

A therapeutic agent used in the treatment of epileptic disorders, and less commonly in the management of alcoholic withdrawal fits.


A liquid used to prevent engine freezing, the abuse of which is not uncommon among teenagers.


One of a class of therapeutic drugs used to treat allergic disorders, and sometimes to manage anxiety and induce sleep due to its sedating effects.

Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD)

A diagnosable psychological disorder characterized by lack of regard for consequences or the feelings of others, and the inability to form close meaningful relationships. Individuals diagnosed with APD commonly display deceitful, manipulative qualities and behaviors.


An overwhelming sense of apprehension, fear or dread, sometimes accompanied by physical symptoms like shaking, sweating, or nausea.


A sedative drug used to treat and reduce anxiety.


“Alcohol and Other Drugs”


“Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse”

Appetite suppressant

A substance used in the treatment of obesity to reduce hunger and limit food intake.

Art therapy

A therapeutic tool in which the creation of art is used to encourage and facilitate emotional growth, used in the treatment of both physical and mental health conditions.

Assertive community treatment (ACT)

An intensive form of addiction treatment characterized by 24-hour responsibility for the client’s welfare, and active engagement with clients through both a variety of outreach measures and the provision of services by multidisciplinary teams. ACT emphasizes communication and shared decision making with the client as integral to the recovery process.lessness and hospitalization.


A professionally directed evaluation of the client’s medical, psychological and substance use history, current health status, symptoms of addiction, potential withdrawal syndrome and related health conditions, used in formulating a treatment plan.

Assisted recovery

The use of a range of treatment services, whether mutual aid groups or professionally-directed programs, in the initiation or maintenance of addiction recovery.

Astramorph PF

A variety of morphine sulfate used in the treatment of severe pain.


Star-shaped cells in the brain and spinal cord thought to play a significant part in morphine’s ability to both relieve pain and cause addiction.

Ativan ®

A trademark name for the drug Lorazepam, a sedative used most commonly in the treatment of seizure disorders.

Aversion therapy

A behavioral treatment intervention based on the concept of classical conditioning, in which the patient is discouraged from continuing an undesirable behavior by learning to associate said behavior with something negative.


One of a variety of brand names for morphine.

Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD)

A relatively rare mental health condition diagnosed in roughly 1% of the US population, characterized by a lifelong pattern of insecurity, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of rejection.


Baclofen is a muscle relaxer that is often prescribed for the treatment of MS or other serious muscle-related disorders as well as lower back pain related to muscle tension or muscle spasms. this drug can cause drowsiness and may impact your ability to operate heavy equipment or to drive a vehicle. Serious precaution should be taken to ensure your safety if Baclofen is prescribed or if you are taking the drug without medical care.

Bad trip

Slang term for a negative experience of drug use in which the individual may experience any of the following: a sense of losing control, distortions of body image, upsetting hallucinations, fears of insanity or death, despair, suicidal thoughts, and a general strong negative effect. Physical symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, nausea, and paraesthesias may also occur.


Barbiturates are medications that are commonly prescribed for the treatment of seizure disorders. The most common barbiturates include phenobarbital, pentobarbital, and secobarbital but many others exist to treat epileptic patients. These drugs come in both short and long-acting combinations but are highly addictive and must be slowly tapered off if addiction occurs.

Basic program

A treatment program with the capacity to treat one disorder, ie. a substance use disorder, but may also screen for other disorders and be able to offer necessary consultations, though not offer treatment for any co-occurring conditions.

Bath Salts

Bath Salts are a designer drug that came about rather recently and caused widespread alarm for parents, medical practitioners and law enforcement alike. These drugs have the potential to cause serious side effects including addiction and sudden death when snorted, smoked or injected. Bath salts are one of many synthetic drugs to come about in the 2000s and sold under various brand names in shops throughout the U.S. before becoming illegal for sale.

Behavior modification therapy

A form of psychotherapy that seeks to target, analyze, and reduce or eliminate destructive or harmful behaviors and, in turn, increase positive, healthy, and constructive behaviors in their place.

Behavioral couples therapy (BCT)

An evidence-based conjoint treatment for substance abuse.

Behavioral health

A term often used in addiction recovery in lieu of “mental health” to differentiate between the intersection of mental health and addiction and other physical health conditions.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy recognizes that the basis of all behaviors are situations that are learned by an individual and that negative or bad habits or behaviors can be unlearned or changed into positive habits. This method of treatment is commonly used in drug rehab to help patients learn how to cope with their bad behaviors and overcome addiction.


The brand name for the generic drug Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant with addictive properties. In recent years, it has increasingly been used and abused by teenagers and young adults due to its low cost and ease of acquisition.


Benzodiazepines are a sedative class of drugs that include Valium, Xanax, and Ativan as well as many other brands. they induce sedation and can evoke a calm sense especially for those with high anxiety or stress. Unfortunately, these medications that are proven to help some can deeply hurt others as they are highly addictive. Benzo addiction requires treatment in a drug rehab center that is familiar with the importance of safely tapering off the medications and providing a treatment protocol that will encourage healing through counseling, therapy, and medical intervention as well as various support services.


A drug similar to amphetamines, most often used in the treatment of obesity as a short-term supplement to diet and exercise.

Bicultural style of recovery

An approach to recovery in which the individual sustains their recovery by participating simultaneously in recovery culture with others in recovery, and in “civilian culture” with people who do not have an addiction or recovery background.


A temporary period of excessive indulgence in a substance or behavior, whether alcohol or drug use, eating, or a compulsive act such as sexual activity or shopping.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as consuming more than five drinks for men, or more than four drinks for women, in a two hour period. This consistency of consuming alcoholic beverages is both dangerous and deadly. Bing drinking often leads to addiction, physical injury and other serious side effects.

Binge Eating

Binge eating is a type of eating disorder that is defined as consuming excessively large amounts of food in a short period of time. Many binge eaters later take measures to purge the food in order to reduce the caloric intake and prevent weight gain. Eating disorders are often the effect of underlying mental health conditions that require treatment in a professional setting.


Biocodone is a brand of prescription medication that includes the pain relieving narcotic hydrocodone. This synthetic opioid is a potentially lethal medication that can cause serious side effects including addiction and subsequent withdrawal when a user attempts to quit. Biocodone addiction generally requires professional treatment in order to stop.


Also known as brainwave biofeedback or biofeedback therapy, this is a behavioral healthcare process that includes the use of the mind to control physiological reactions to certain conditions. In drug rehab, biofeedback can be used to help relax the muscles, reduce anxiety, slow heartrate or otherwise reduce stress especially when triggers that would otherwise lead to substance abuse are confronted.

Biological marker

A biological attribute that indicates an individual’s vulnerability to a specific disorder. Biological markers are divided into two categories: state markers identify a current abnormality that usually reflects a short-term condition of the subject, such as the degree of activity of an underlying disorder or the recent use of a drug. Trait markers indicate a relatively stable and enduring personal attribute that reflects a continuing condition or, particularly in the case of a genetic marker, a predisposition to a specific disorder. In addiction medicine, most biological markers are state markers.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that is characterized by dramatic changes in moods that may include mania and bouts of excessive depression. Individuals with bipolar disorder are generally in a severe state of mind that requires professional treatment. Without help, many individuals struggling with this mental health condition commit suicide, abuse drugs or alcohol, and struggle to survive.

Black tar Heroin

Black tar heroin is derived from poppy plants and is a highly addictive opiate that can lead to serious side effects including overdose and death. Most of the time, heroin is seen in a powder form after it has been processed down to a brown powder but black tar is the product before it is cut with other substances or refined down with things like lactose, powdered milk or sugar. Addiction to this opiate or any other opiate generally requires help from an inpatient rehab center in order to get sober.


A common term for a type of episodic amnesia, often induced by excessive consumption of alcohol or some other substance. During a blackout, long-term memories are not created, and an individual may appear conscious while participating in conversations or behavior but have no recollection of them later.


Blackouts occur when an individual has consumed too much alcohol or another substance and suffers a temporary bout of amnesia. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, blackouts commonly occur following significant consumption of alcohol and may lead to injury, illness or death.

Blood Alcohol Concentration

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the level of alcohol found in the blood following consumption of alcoholic beverages. BAC is expressed as a percentage to define whether an individual is legally intoxicated. Each state has a different level of what is considered legally drunk for purposes of determining whether an individual is safe to operate a motor vehicle or perform other tasks. Generally, BAC depends on a range of factors including how much you drank, what you drank, when you had your last drink, your height and weight, your activity level, and whether food was consumed.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that includes being on the “borderline” of neurotic or psychotic. Also known as BPD, this condition is one of many personality disorders that presents significant challenges in treatment and which may lead to self-medicating and subsequent addiction to a range of substances including alcohol or drugs. Self-destruction, recklessness and other serious manifestations of anger or inappropriate behavior are likely when an individual is struggling with this condition.


A form of therapy sometimes utilized in addiction recovery that focuses on the use of specific breathing techniques in order to improve spiritual, physical, and psychological well-being.


The acronym for a method of counseling commonly used in the treatment of substance abuse. BRENDA is comprised of six core components: Biopsychosocial evaluation; Report to the patients on assessment findings; Empathy; Needs identified by patient and treatment provider; Direct patient advice; and Assessing the patient’s reaction to advice and adjusting treatment when needed.

Brief Intervention

Brief intervention is a process of moderating an individual’s alcohol consumption in order to help him or her ultimately quit drinking. While this method of treatment is generally not effective for an individual that is severely addicted or struggling with co-occurring disorders, it can be helpful for those in the early stages of alcoholism. The brief intervention involves interaction with a primary doctor or emergency room doctor to identify issues related to alcoholism and define a normal course of treatment for the alcoholism under medical care.

Bulimia nervosa

An eating disorder characterized by binge eating and subsequent efforts to control weight gain, whether via purging (self-induced vomiting), excessive exercise, fasting, laxative abuse, or some combination of these. Sufferers of bulimia nervosa display a preoccupation with weight, shape, size, and a distorted self-perception. Diagnosis hinges on the presence of inappropriate binge/weight control behaviors at least twice weekly for three months.


Buprenorphine is a narcotic pain-relieving medication that is also used in the treatment of opioid addiction to reduce the impact that the drug has on the user by blocking symptoms of withdrawal. While this medication does carry a significant risk for physical and psychological dependence, it can be effectively used to help patients overcome the impact of opioid addiction when used under the supervision and direction of a healthcare professional.


Butalbital is a barbiturate that acts immediately to treat headaches and to reduce anxiety related to stress or tension. This sedative is addictive when taken for a prolonged period of time and may require professional rehab for the safe healing of the user should addiction arise.


Butorphanol is a narcotic medication that is used in the treatment of pain. This synthetic agonist-antagonist opioid is marketed under the brand name Stadol and is most commonly administered through IV. Taken long term this medication can cause symptoms of addiction that requires treatment in a drug rehab center for optimal relief.


A very common alkaloid that acts as both a stimulant and a diuretic, found in coffee and tea.

CAGE Questionnaire

An alcoholism screening tool which asks the subject about a) attempts to Cut down on drinking, b) Annoyance over others’ criticism of the subject’s drinking, c) Guilt related to drinking, and d) use of an alcoholic drink as an Eye opener.


Campral is a medication used in the treatment of alcoholism to help alcoholics to overcome the challenges of dependence and addiction. Also known as acamprosate, this medication can restore balance and mental clarity for an individual who has recently quit drinking.

Canine-Assisted Therapy

Canine-assisted therapy is a method of rehabilitation that involves the use of dogs as pets to help encourage health, happiness, and acceptance. The unconditional love that is given by a dog is something that many addicts appreciate in this type of animal-assisted therapy which helps those in recovery to feel less stressed and more in control of their healing journey.


Otherwise known as weed, pot or marijuana, cannabis is a natural substance that users smoke to get high. Although under much scrutiny in recent years, and feelings as to whether this drug actually has potential health effects or if it’s safe at all are mixed, many states have legalized cannabis.

Cannabis addiction

A state of psychological and, in some ways, physical dependence on cannibis, or marijuana, an addiction which affects predominantly teenagers, accounting for 16% of new drug treatment admissions.


A muscle relaxer that is commonly prescribed for patients that suffer from muscle spasms, Carisoprodol is a short-acting medication that has a moderate risk for dependence with long-term use. Individuals that become addicted to this medication generally require treatment to help them quit using.

Case management

The careful evaluation of health care needs and coordinated linkage to the appropriate services to address a client’s specific needs and goals in substance addiction recovery.

Causal factors

Various physical, psychological, and environmental factors that act together to lead an individual to some form of chemical dependency.

Ceiling effect

Refers to the occurance when the dosage of Buprenorphine is increased beyond maximum levels and without resulting in any difference or increased intensity of the effect.

Center for Mental Health Services

The Center for Mental health Services (CMHS) is part of the Federal agency SAMHSA which directs the efforts to improve the mental health of U.S. residents through establishing practical treatment methods for those struggling with mental health disorders. this agency offers mental health services, works to generate resources that offer knowledge and assistance to those struggling with mental illness and provides unique mental health treatment services to the individuals and families in need.

Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) operates within the Federal agency SAMHSA to provide effective substance abuse prevention services to communities throughout the United States. this agency provides community-based prevention services through its strategic prevention framework.

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) operates under SAMHSA to provide quality, community-based substance abuse treatment services throughout the United States. This agency promotes the immediate availability of treatment services to patients in need to help improve upon and expand the reach of substance abuse treatment providers to individuals and families in need.

Centering rituals

Regularly practiced activities that help an individual remain recovery-focused. Centering rituals are unique to the individual and might include praying; reading recovery literature; meditating; journaling; and wearing or carrying sacred or meaningful symbols or objects.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support public health initiatives and prevent infectious disease. CDC can provide insight into chronic diseases, health threats, environmental health threats, disabilities and other health-related concerns as they arise and become publicly aware.

Central Nervous System

The Central Nervous System (CNS) is the area of the brain and spinal cord responsible for sensory information transmission. The CNS carries sights and smells to the brain to allow the individual to see and smell unique scents. Sadly, many drugs stimulate the CNS adding a dangerous level of involvement within the brain and the nervous system when synthetic or natural substances are abused.

Central nervous system stimulant

Any drug or substance that “speeds up” the functioning of the central nervous system, including such common substances as caffeine, nicotine, and cocoa.

Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor (CCDC)

A counselor with specialty certification in managing and assisting clients in addiction recovery programs.

Character defect

A widely contested concept of alcoholism as a reflection of moral character and limited capacity to make good choices.

Chemical dependence

A physiological condition in which a person, upon quitting an addictive substance, experiences physical withdrawal symptoms as a result of chemical changes in the brain. If one does not experience physical withdrawal symptoms, they are not chemically dependent.

Chemical Dependency

Chemical dependency is the state of being dependent upon a chemical that is not natural to the human body. This includes being addicted to drugs or alcohol that are either legal or illegal. Chemically dependent individuals often require the help of professional treatment centers in order to get sober.

Chemically Dependent

Being chemically dependent means that you are addicted to a chemical such as alcohol or drugs and require the chemical in order to not feel symptoms of withdrawal. Chemical dependency can lead to side effects including anxiety, depression and flu-like symptoms depending on the type of chemical that you are dependent upon and how long you have been abusing the substance.

Children of Alcoholics

Children of Alcoholics (COA) is a group that provides support to the individuals that were raised by parents that were alcoholics. Studies recognize that COAs are up to four-times more likely to become dependent on alcohol themselves later in life and that these individuals are more likely to marry into families that are struggling equally with alcoholism. COA groups provide support and care to their peers to help overcome these challenges of having grown up in an alcoholic home.


Chlordiazepepoxide is an anti-anxiety medication that is part of the benzodiazepine class of drugs. This medication is often taken with alcohol or other drugs if a user is addicted and doing so increases risks for dangerous consequences including coma, breathy difficulties or death. Addiction is possible with repeat use.

Christian Drug Rehabs

Christian drug rehabs use a faith-centered approach to the treatment of addiction offering patients a place to safely overcome substance abuse disorders while growing in fellowship and faith. these programs utilize bible study, 12-step work, spiritual counseling, and guidance as well as many traditional drug rehabilitation efforts to provide patients with treatment that integrates well within their Christian faith.


In medicine, a condition which lasts a long time.

Chronic disease

A disease that persists over a long period of time.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, much like anything chronic, is pain that simply does not go away after a period of 6 months or longer. Many chronic pain patients are prescribed narcotic pain relievers and other medications to reduce pain but the stabbing, burning, throbbing, or aching pressure continues and may lead to serious side effects. Taking pain medication for more than a few weeks or taking more pain medication than prescribed can quickly lead to dependence and addiction that requires the help of a professional drug rehab center to overcome.

Chronic Substance Abuse

Chronic substance abuse is any type of drug or alcohol use that continues on after an individual has suffered serious consequences as a result of the drug or alcohol use. Repeat or chronic substance abuse often leads to overdose, relationship problems, financial struggles and other serious side effects. Treatment in a professional drug rehab can help to reduce the burden and lower the chances of continued substance abuse even for a chronic drug or alcohol abuser.

Cinema therapy

A form of therapy in which clients are instructed to watch a film carefully selected by their therapist to help clients process and deal with a specific problem by discussing their emotional connection and reaction to the film.

Circles of recovery

The gathering of individuals from many different recovery traditions for the common purpose of support, communication, and healing.

Clean Living is Freedom Forever (CLIFF)

The first prison-based substance abuse recovery program that specifically targets and treats incarcerated methamphetamine abusers.


A general term for any individual receiving treatment, intervention, or recovery support, whether medical, psychological, or both.

Client-Centered Therapy

Client-centered therapy is a clinical practice that focuses on providing the patient with a human-based approach to healing. This program is based on the premise that patients in therapy are the experts of their own lives and that the therapist is simply there to help guide the patient to a solution. There is no formal diagnosing in client-centered therapy, instead, the therapist focuses on helping patients to become aware of how their behaviors may be contributing to their substance abuse and on what they can do to facilitate healing personally.

Clinical Trial

A clinical trial is used to determine whether a medication, practice, therapy or vaccine is effective for the safe treatment or cure of a patient struggling with a disease or illness. Clinical trials are a required step in the process of the CDC and federal control boards to deem a practice or medication safe and available for use by the public. Each year, clinical trials take place at the National Institute of Health, CDC and other major organizations to develop new treatment protocols for individuals and families struggling with a wide range of health issues including addiction.

Clinical versus community populations

Distinguishes the recovery prospects and processes of those with alcohol or drug problems in community studies from those with alcohol or drug problems who seek mutual aid and professionally-directed treatment services.


Clonazepam is a medication more commonly known as Klonopin that is prescribed in the treatment of seizure disorders, anxiety, and panic attacks. This benzodiazepine medication has a moderate risk of dependence and may lead to serious addiction that requires professional treatment if taken for a prolonged period of time.


Clonidine is a blood pressure medication that is prescribed for the treatment of alcoholism and certain types of withdrawal including opiate or opioid withdrawal. Under proper supervision, Clonidine can help patients to detox more comfortably but may cause serious interactions if taken with alcohol or other substances.

Closed Group

A closed group is the term used when a twelve-step meeting is not open to the public. These groups are only for members of AA or NA or other anonymous groups that are actively pursuing sobriety. Closed groups are not open to friends or family members of addicts. If you’re a family member, friend or someone just interested in trying a twelve-step group meeting out, an open group is the type of meeting that will be accepting of your interest to learn more.


The brand name for Clozapine, an antipsychotic medication with the very specific use of treating selected patients with treatment-resistant adult-onset schizophrenia.

Club Drugs

Club drugs are a class of drugs that are generally synthetic and referred to as “club drugs” because they are widely abused at nightclubs and raves or major music parties. The most common club drugs include ecstasy or MDMA, LSD, ketamine, and Roofies.

CNS Stimulant

A CNS Stimulant is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system to produce a euphoric or stimulatory response. CNS Stimulants may include a variety of drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall. After prolonged use of these drugs, the user may become addicted and require the specialized treatment of a drug rehab center in order to get well.


An individual with an emotional dependence on an alcoholic. See codependent.

Co-Dependence Anonymous

A 12-step mutual aid group for people with the common purpose of developing healthy relationships without falling into a pattern of excessive emotional dependence on others.

Co-occurring Disorder

Co-occurring disorders refer to the presence of mental or physical health conditions in addition to an addiction or subsequent behavioral or physical disorder. For instance, you may have a co-occurring disorder (or dual diagnosis) if you struggle with addiction and you also suffer from anxiety or depression. Studies estimate that as many as 50% of all addicts also struggle with a co-occurring disorder such as mental illness.


The plant Erythroxylon from which cocaine is derived, or specifically the leaves thereof.


Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that is derived from the coca plant to produce a powder that can create anesthetic and euphoric effects when consumed orally, injected or smoked. Today studies estimate that more than 1 million people abuse cocaine on a regular basis and need the help of a drug rehab center to quit. Long-term use of cocaine can lead to addiction and the potential for overdose or other serious side effects including paranoid delusions, violence, and depression.

Cocaine Anonymous

Cocaine Anonymous is a twelve-step group much like NA or AA that utilizes a series of steps to help individuals that are addicted to cocaine to quit and find balance in their lives. Anyone is welcome to attend open Cocaine Anonymous (CA) meetings but closed meetings are for those in recovery from this addiction only.

Cocaine vaccine

An endeavor by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine, an experimental weapon in the “war on drugs” in the form of an injection that reduces the high from cocaine by stimulating the immune system.


Codeine is a powerful opioid that is commonly prescribed for the treatment of a cough, pain, and diarrhea. This medication is a Schedule II substance that has moderate potential for addiction and abuse. Used long-term, codeine can lead to dependence that subsequently requires treatment in a professional rehab setting in order to quit.


Codependence is a dysfunctional pattern within a relationship that causes a loved one or friend to be codependent upon an addict. Codependency comes with a number of irrational or harmful behaviors including avoiding conflict despite the expense of such avoiding on the individual, taking care of the addict instead of taking care of one’s self first, neglecting self-care or financial matters or other obligations in order to care for or fund the continued addiction of the addict, and feeling helpless or otherwise inadequate as a result of the addict.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a psychotherapy that is used short-term to help patients understand how their thought processes influence their behavioral patterns both in positive and negative ways. CBT is a widely used and accepted method of treatment for substance use disorders and covers an array of different treatment methodologies including rational behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a short-term therapeutic method that originated in the treatment of survivors of rape and molestation. This therapeutic approach is often used to help individuals struggling with PTSD by offering a process that helps them to break the cycle of paralization that occurs when feelings of helplessness and distrust arise.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is used in the treatment of addiction and many types of behavioral disorders. Cognitive therapy is a subset therapeutic approach under the wider group of therapies known as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Coke bugs

A slang term for a common tactile hallucination that causes the sufferer to feel bugs crawling on or under the skin, caused by chronic, high-dose stimulant drug abuse.

Cold turkey

The practice of abruptly ceasing all drug use in order to achieve long-term sobriety, rather than gradually weaning oneself off the substance.


A declaration, usually public, of one’s recovery goal, that marks the shift from the planning and contemplation stage of recovery to the action stage and sets an intention to follow through.


Two or more disorders or illnesses occurring in the same person.

Complete recovery

A phrase coined by Dr. Michael Picucci, which describes an advanced state of recovery characterized by overall health, self-acceptance, and greater capacity for intimacy.

Complicated Grief Therapy

Complicated grief therapy is a method of psychotherapy that is sometimes used when an individual suffers a sudden, tragic loss of a loved one or friend that leads to a heavy sense of grief. This type of therapy includes bereavement prognosis, support, and psychological care that helps individuals to overcome grief in a safe, supportive manner.


A repetitive, often irrational behavior that the individual repeats out of an undesirable sense of obligation, often to placate anxiety. The need to carry out a compulsion is overwhelming and overpowering and requires intensive therapy to overcome.

Compulsive Behaviors

Compulsive behaviors such as nail biting, picking, or even drug use are defined as performing a behavior over and over again despite the negative consequence that arises as a result. Many compulsions or compulsive behaviors will go away on their own but some may become obsessions that require specialized treatment and therapy in order to stop.


Concerta is a CNS stimulant that is used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and narcolepsy. the risks for dependence are moderate with this medication when it is taken as prescribed but if taken without a prescription dangerous consequences may arise including psychosis, delirium or death.


Concerta is a medication that is sometimes prescribed in the treatment of narcolepsy or ADHD. the drug is taken by mouth but repeat, consistent use can lead to addiction. This controlled substance may cause rapid heartbeat, irregular rhythm of the heart and other serious complications for the user.

Concomitant treatment

The simultaneous treatment of more than one mental or physical disorder.


A key piece in almost all forms of addiction recovery


A form of direct interpersonal exchange in which individuals present their observations of and reactions to behaviors that concern


Any alcohol, aldehyde, or ester, aside from ethanol, that are used in alcoholic beverages that contribute to the flavor, aroma, and other unique characteristics of the drink.

Constricted pupils

A common sign of opioid abuse, pupils that are temporarily narrowed or closed.


Communication between various treatment providers for the purpose of requesting referrals or information on behalf of a client.

Control, impaired

The diminished ability of an individual to control substance use, whether in terms of quantity, onset, or point at which they are able to cease use.

Control, loss of

The inability to successfully moderate the amount and frequency of substance use.

Controlled Substance

A controlled substance is a chemical or drug that is controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency and other major agencies to prevent the illicit use or manufacturing of such. Many prescription medications, as well as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, are all controlled substances.

Controlled substances

Substances whose distribution and use is legally restricted to medical or pharmaceutical application.

Controlled Substances Act

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 defined the plan for drug abuse prevention and control throughout the United States using a series of DEA policy and enforcement procedures to reduce the unlawful manufacture, importation, possession, and use of controlled substances such as stimulants, CNS depressants, and other drugs.

Controversial topics (in addiction)

Some addictions, for example food addiction or sex addiction, hold a controversial place in the sphere of addiction medicine and struggle for visibility as legitimate disorders.

Conversion therapy

The initiation of the addiction recovery process though climactic physical/emotional experiences that elicit profound and unique behavioral changes intended to touch the core of personal identity and values. (For specific examples, see Born Again, Cocoon, Surrender)

Convulsion, Alcohol- Or Drug-Related

A seizure-like symptom of alcohol or drug intoxication, withdrawal, or sometimes brain damage related to substance abuse. Convulsions are characterized by loss of consciousness and muscular rigidity, temporary cessation of respiration, and involuntary jerking of the limbs and torso.


A seizure symptom characterized by uncontrollable twitching and spasms of the limbs. Seizures may occur as a symptom of withdrawal from hypnotic-sedative or stimulant drugs.

Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are the mental or physical actions that are used to help an individual deal with stress or other emotions. Coping mechanisms may be healthy or unhealth behaviors depending on the individual and what he or she has learned to do to stay emotionally well. For an addict, use of drugs or alcohol are often a coping mechanism to combat stress, pain, or other overwhelming situations that some people would otherwise combat through exercise, journaling, meditation or other behaviors.


Cortisol is a steroid that is released into the human bloodstream when an individual is stressed or otherwise experiencing acute-anxiety. produced by the adrenal gland, Cortisol production that occurs on overdrive in response to consistently stressful situations can have an opposite impact on the individual causing heightened blood sugar and resistance to insulin which leads to increased hunger and the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes.


Counseling is a method of behavioral treatment that is used to address the underlying symptoms of addiction to drugs or alcohol to help patients learn how to cope with stress and overcome dependence. Many different types of counseling are offered in drug rehab programs including individual counseling, group counseling, couples counseling and family counseling.


In terms of the clinician-patient relationship, countertransference refers to any biases or preconceived notions the clinician might project onto the client as a result of past clinical experience.

Couples Therapy

Couples therapy is a method of behavioral therapy that brings together a husband and wife (or couple) to help them overcome the various challenges that are faced in a relationship and to form a healthier bond. Couples therapy is often used to help bridge the gap in addiction treatment offering support to the individual in the relationship that is NOT addicted helping him or her to better understand what addiction is, how it’s treated and why their support is so vital to the recovery of the patient.

Covert sensitization

Covert sentitization, also known as verbal aversion therapy, is a behavioral modification approach that helps the client overcome fears by imagining and confronting the presence of images or stimuli that provoke anxiety.

COWS (Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale)

A tool used to quantify severity of opiate withdrawal, rated, and added up for the total COWS score. The COWS scale runs as follows: 5-12 (Mild withdrawal); 13-24 (Moderate); 25-36 (Moderate to Severe); and More than 36 (Severe).

Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is the hard or processed form of cocaine that is cooked with other chemicals to form a rock consistency which is later smoked to produce a euphoric high. Repeat use frequently occurs and leads to physical and psychological dependence that requires professional treatment for proper healing. Crack cocaine is one of the most addictive stimulants on the streets and has no legal use.


Crank, or bathtub Meth, is a street word for methamphetamine that has been produced in a clandestine, home laboratory. Crank is a white, glassy or powdery substance that produces euphoric effects that can last upwards of 12 hours. Physically, crank causes rapid eye movement, increased heartbeat, and heightened blood pressure as well as a rush of energy. Psychologically, crank produces mood swings, violent outbursts and major depression when the drug use stops.


Cravings are the urge to use drugs or alcohol when an individual makes an attempt to quit. According to many studies, cravings can persist long after drug use stops despite changes in lifestyle and behaviors. In fact, the cravings or perceived “need” for drugs or alcohol are often what causes a user to resort back to substance abuse after he or she has achieved sobriety.

Crisis intervention

The immediate, short-term action taken within a mental/physical health care context when an individual’s actions/potential actions pose a threat to themselves or others.


The capacity of one substance to suppress the withdrawal symptoms of discontinued repeated administration of another substance, therefore maintaining the physically dependent state. For example, methadone is a substance used to suppress withdrawal symptoms in a person physically dependent on heroin.


Occurs when one’s tolerance for one drug results in their lessened response to another.


The use of direct responses to disclosures within the context of a mutual aid meeting, ie. suggestions or feedback. Crosstalk is typically discouraged by 12-step recovery programs, but this can vary by recovery group.

Crystal Meth

Crystal meth is actually a substance that was once more widely prescribed for extreme weight loss but is now most commonly found being created in clandestine labs and sold on the streets to individuals looking to get high. This substance is highly addictive and can lead to rapid deterioration of the human body after just a short period of abuse. Quitting generally requires the help of a drug rehab center or professional support setting in order to overcome the strong cravings that linger following an addiction.

Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)

A 12-step mutual aid group for people in recovery from crystal meth addiction.

Cure for Addiction

Addiction is a disease and as such, there is no cure. Studies have consistently proven that addiction has no cure and that strict treatment regimens and long-term counseling and therapy, as well as continued care, are amongst the best methods of overcoming addiction and living a drug or alcohol-free life. A cure for addiction is almost always being entertained by healthcare practitioners and professionals but to this day there is no such cure.

Cure for addiction (concept)

The concept of addiction as a disease with a progressive nature similar to other diseases also allows for the existence of a cure, being abstinence in the case of alcoholism, though “cures” for substance abuse disorders are imperfect and non-absolute.


Damason-P is a prescription painkiller that is paired with aspirin to provide anti-inflammatory analgesic effects for those who take the drug. It is paired with hydrocodone to produce pain relief for patients struggling with moderate to severe pain. This medication can cause addiction if taken for more than 5-7 days consecutively.

Dance therapy

A form of expressive therapy that utilizes dance and movement to promote emotional, mental, and physical growth and healing.


Darvocet is a derivative of the poppy plant that produces mild to moderate pain relief when taken orally. Due to scrutiny by federal legislation that admits that Darvocet has the potential to cause potentially fatal heart problems, the FDA took this medication and the generic forms of the drug off the market in 2010.


Darvon is in opioid that produces mild to moderate pain relief when taken orally. Much like morphine, Darvon can cause physical dependence and addiction if it is used repeatedly. Due to serious side effects that can arise as a result of this medication, the FDA banned the drug as well as all generic forms of this drug and Darvocet in 2010.


Drug Enforcement Administration


Disability or inability to function fully as a result of substance abuse and dependence.


A sudden and unpredictable state of altered consciousness characterized by restlessness, illusions, delusions, incoherent thought and speech, and sometimes hyperactivity, due to sudden changes in brain function. Delirium can indicate infection, drug toxicity or withdrawal, seizures, brain tumor, poisoning, head injury, and metabolic disturbances.

Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens is a condition that occurs during alcohol withdrawal for individuals that are heavily addicted to alcohol. This is the most severe case of alcohol withdrawal and is commonly abbreviated as DTs. Delirium Tremens can produce seizures, heart arrhythmia, visual hallucinations, and potentially fatal side effects if immediate healthcare is not available when the withdrawal symptoms spike.


Delusions are incorrect, but firmly held beliefs that may arise when an individual is mentally or physically impaired. Drugs and alcohol can produce delusions as can the abrupt cessation of these substances. Individuals struggling with certain mental health disorders including schizophrenia, psychosis, and bipolar disorder may suffer from delusions that can be bizarre or may be potentially true but undefined.


Demerol is a medication that is commonly prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. This drug is commonly used in labor and delivery to produce maximum pain relief with minimum impact on the baby. Part of the class of pain relievers known as opioid narcotics, Demerol use can quickly lead to dependence and other serious side effects.


One’s failure to either admit or realize his or her addiction or to recognize and accept the harm it can cause.


A physiological state that occurs after continued, excessive use of a substance, in which a person can only function and feel normal while under the influence of a substance. Substance dependence is a psychiatric diagnosis for chronic substance use disorder commonly called “addiction.” The concept of dependence is common in substance abuse treatment programs, and abstaining from the substance can often be a harrowing experience for the addicted individual seeking recovery.

Dependence potential

The potential of a drug or substance to become addictive or dependence-forming, also known as “abuse liability” in legal terms; “potential for addiction,” or “addiction-sustaining properties”. In the United States, scientists employed by drug companies must determine the abuse liability of any new drug that the company wants to manufacture and sell.

Dependence syndrome

The aggregate of behavioral, cognitive, and physical symptoms of physical/psychological dependence on a substance. Typical signs include a powerful desire to take the drug, loss of control over time and frequency of use, persistent use despite negative ramifications, prioritizing of drug use over other activities and obligation, increased tolerance, and a physical withdrawal reaction when drug use is discontinued.

Dependency transfer

In addiction recovery terms, the replacement of a negative addiction with a positive addiction or dependence. For example, in some Christianity-oriented programs, drug dependence is seen as replaced by dependence on Christ.

Dependent Personality Disorder

A mental health condition characterixed by excessive dependence on other people to fill both emotional and physical needs, the cause of which is unknown.


Depression is a mental illness that commonly impacts those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Often times, depression comes before the addiction and individuals abuse drugs or alcohol as a means of self-medicating to feel better. No matter how the depression began, treatment is necessary to help the patient overcome the overwhelming sadness and emotionally upset in order to feel comfortable and happy in life. Without treatment, depression sometimes leads to other serious side effects including suicidal thoughts or actually committing suicide.

Designer drugs

Drugs created out of manmade materials in underground or “kitchen” laboratories. Often associated with clubs, bars, and raves, designer drugs mimic the effects of those made from plants, such as cocaine and marijuana, but are produced synthetically. Also called “club drugs.”


Desoxyn is the medical brand name for methamphetamine that is sometimes prescribed to patients that are struggling with severe ADHD or obesity. When Desoxyn is provided to these patients, they may experience mental clarity and an ability to think in a more refined manner. However, the dangers and complications that arise from the long-term use of this drug make it very rarely prescribed.


Drug or alcohol detox is the process of stopping the use of drugs or alcohol and undergoing the series of symptoms known as withdrawal under the control of a medical or clinical practitioner. Detoxification occurs when all of a substance has effectively been eliminated from the body and there are no longer serious signs of withdrawal that pose a potential risk for the user to feel sick, uneasy, or otherwise off. The period of detoxification can range from a few days for some substances to months for others and depends largely on the methods of treatment used, the severity of the addiction and individual factors.


The process by which an addicted individual, through abstinence from their drug of choice, allows their body to rid itself of toxins and the effects of the drug. Detox is often the first step in addiction treatment, and medical supervision is necessary to help manage dangerous, unpleasant, potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.


Dexedrine is a prescription medication that is a CNS stimulant which acts to speed up metabolism and promote weight loss. Dexedrine may cause serious side effects including dependence and the risk for hallucinations, seizures, and heart failure.


Dextroamphetamine is a CNS stimulant that was originally approved by the FDA to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It is marketed under various brand names including Dextrostat, ProCentra, and Liquadd. Due to the risk of addiction from repeat use, this drug is a Schedule II substance according to the DEA.

Dextromethorphan (DXM)

Dextromethorphan or DXM is a cough suppressant that is sometimes abused by teens and young adults. It is the medication found in Robotussin and, when abused is commonly referred to as Robotarded or Robotripping due the euphoric effects and hallucinations that occur when excessive amounts of this cough syrup are taken.


Dextrostat is a medication that is used in the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. taken in large amounts or if you are allergic to this drug you may suffer from panic, psychosis, and rapid heart rate as a result of the drug. Repeat or prolonged use of Dextrostat can lead to chemical dependence. This addiction may require treatment in a professional drug rehab in order to heal.

Diacetylmorphine, Diamorphine

Alternative names for heroin.


A diagnosis is the medical term used to describe “what is wrong with a patient.” Addiction, mental illness, and the flu are examples of different ways that you may be diagnosed.

Diagnostic orphan

An individual who struggles with alcohol but lacks the ability, direction, or severity of behaviors to warrant professional intervention.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

A form of therapy based on the concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), considered to be a form of CBT, though it varies in the incorporation of the concept of mindfulness and a dialectical approach to treatment, meaning integrating or balancing polar opposites in order to find the middle ground. DBT has been proven a very successful tool in teaching stress tolerance, building healthy relationships, and managing overwhelming emotions.


A brand name for Hydromorphone HCl – Antitussive, a drug prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Available in tablet, suppository, liquid, and ampul forms.


Diazepam is an anti-anxiety medication that is more widely known by the brand name Valium. This benzodiazepine produces almost immediate sedative effects helping patients who are experiencing panic attacks, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal and seizures. Diazepam is often used during detoxification to help patients who are heavily addicted to alcohol or opioids to remain calm and relaxed during the sometimes painful process of withdrawal. Diazepam does have the potential to cause dependence and other serious side effects when taken long-term.

Dilated pupils

Pupils that are temporarily enlarged, often a symptom of drug intoxication.


Dilaudid is an opioid analgesic that is prescribed for the treatment of severe pain. It is commonly prescribed to cancer patients. This drug has a serious potential for abuse and misuse that can quickly lead to addiction which requires professional treatment.


Another term for alcoholism.


The release of a patient from an addiction treatment program, facility, or other course of care.

Disease management

The process by which persons with chronic health issues maintain their health and functioning with the help of medical professionals. Treatments may include medications and/or therapies to address and suppress symptoms; moderation of nutrition and exercise habits; and treatment of any other co-occurring health conditions.

Disease model of addiction

The concept of addiction in general as a chronic disease along the same lines of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Disease of Addiction

The Disease of Addiction is a term used to describe human behavior that involves repetitive use of drugs or alcohol despite consequences or hazards that occur. Addiction has not always been recognized as a disease. in the 1990s, addiction was largely viewed as a “weakness” and it was not fully understood that people who abuse drugs or alcohol in an addictive manner are actually struggling with a real disease that requires more than just a “will” to get sober.

Disengaged (Style Of) Recovery

A form of recovery initiated via professionally directed treatment and/or mutual aid groups, and maintained individually without significant input from either professionals or mutual aid groups.


A common, attractive effect of drug use that results in a sense of release from internal restraints on one’s behavior.


A disruption or illness of any mental or physical process.


The process by which an individual considers whether their beliefs are rational and irrational, and why those beliefs exist.


The generic form of a substance used in the treatment of alcohol addiction that works to prevent relapse in an individual through violent physical illness if the individual breaks their sobriety and consumes alcohol.

Diversion program

A form of sentencing that occurs in lieu of prosecution on a drug or alcohol-related offense, whether criminal usage, sale, distribution, or driving under the influence, in which incarceration time is replaced with legally mandated enrollment in an appropriate treatment program.


Abbreviation for Drug of Choice.


An illegal, psychedelic street drug similar to LSD. Short for 2,5-Dimethoxy-4-chloroamphetamine.

Doctor Shopping

Doctor shopping is a term used to describe bouncing from one doctor to another in an effort to get more prescriptions for a particular drug or class of drugs. Throughout the U.S. doctor-shopping has been a major concern for the past twenty years but efforts such as the DEA’s Prescription Drug Monitoring System and similar programs have been put in place to help reduce the number of doctor shopping cases that actually occur and thus reduce the number of unlawful prescription drugs that make it to the streets.

Doctor shopping

A manipulative technique employed by addicted individuals in which they secretly see multiple doctors in order to receive multiple prescriptions for the same substance.


A narcotic pain reliever also known as Dolophine Hydrochloride CII, a brand name for methadone hydrochloride, often used in the reduction of withdrawal symptoms for people with heroin or other narcotics.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that works to activate one of five types of dopamine receptors known medically as D1-D5. Drug use can increase the amount of dopamine production which increases the “high” or “good” feeling that a user has. Sadly, when drug use stops, dopamine production may stop or slow substantially causing the patient to lack the normal levels that cause a sense of reward and happiness necessary to prevent depression. As such, many addiction treatment programs aim to help patients restore dopamine balance by providing treatment for depression while also offering support, counseling and therapeutic care.


Now a general term for drug use, doping was initially a term for the distribution or use of any substance intended to enhance athletic performance in a formal setting.


The specific quantity of a drug or substance administered to achieve a particular result.


A slang term for depressant drugs, or drugs that cause a reduction in mood.


A sociological term which refers to the tendency of some addicts to “go with the flow” and ultimately veer away from the social setting and circumstances in which substance use is common.


A drinking pattern that does not constitute problem drinking, which occurs in accordance with normative, acceptable social customs. May also refer literally to drinking in the company of others, rather than alone.

Drinking Responsibly

Although alcohol is legal in the U.S. there have been a number of concerns with the level of alcohol consumption that occurs for some people. Drinking responsibly is the practice of taking part in drinking alcohol but without overdrinking, drinking and driving, providing alcohol to underage minors or otherwise being unresponsible while intoxicated. Many alcohol advertisements now focus on drinking responsibly in order to send an appropriate message to the young (and old) adults that are using alcoholic beverages in the U.S.

Drinking, hazardous

The excessive and harmful use of alcohol.

Drinking, heavy

Often defined in terms of exceeding a certain daily volume or quantity of alcohol consumed per occasion (ie. more than three drinks daily; more than five drinks per social event), heavy drinking is a pattern of alcohol consumption that exceeds standards of moderate or “social” drinking.

Drinking, moderate

A typically unproblematic pattern of drinking in contrast with heavy, problematic drinking that exceeds social norms. Moderate drinking is sometimes also distinguished from light drinking.

Drinking, problem

Consumption of alcohol to a degree that results in individual, collective, health, or social problems, but which is nevertheless continued by the individual.


A synthetic form of cannabis, frequently used to treat loss of appetite in AIDS patients. It can also be used to manage nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.


Any chemical substance, whether prescribed legally, obtained over-the-counter, or produced and distributed illicitly that alters the physical and chemical nature of the body. Psychoactive drugs, for example, alter the chemical function of the brain.

Drug abuser

An individual who repeatedly uses a chemical substance in destructive, maladaptive ways other than prescribed or intended.

Drug addiction

A common and dangerous form of addiction characterized by a physiological and psychological dependence on a particular substance.

Drug cartels

Criminal organizations that facilitate and control drug trafficking in the global illicit drug market.

Drug classifications

Distinctions between different drugs based on substance, type, or effects induced, in terms of both licit and illicit drugs.

Drug control

The regulation of substance production, distribution, sale, and use of specific psychoactive substances by national or international systems of laws or agencies.

Drug Dependence

Drug dependence is the term used to refer to a user’s perceived “need” for a drug. Dependence may be psychological or physical or both. Often times, drug dependence is both physical and psychological in nature such that the user both feels physically poor if he or she doesn’t have drugs and he or she will feel emotionally upset without drugs as well.

Drug diversion

A medical or legal concept concerning the transfer of any legally prescribed, controlled substance from the person for whom it was prescribed to another individual.

Drug Enforcement Agency

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is a government agency that is tasked with keeping drug control policy enforced.

Drug intoxication

Dysfunctional and usually disruptive changes in physiological functioning, psychological functioning, mood state, cognitive process, or all of the above, as a result of drug consumption and subsequent central nervous system impairment.

Drug misuse

The use of a drug beyond the scope of what is recommended or prescribed, whether in terms of dosage or frequency of use.

Drug policy

The collection of laws and policies which intend to affect the supply and/or demand of illicit substances, including drug education, addiction treatment, substance control, and other related programs or policies.

Drug Rehab

Drug rehab is the place where addiction treatment occurs. Many different types of drug rehab centers are available throughout the United States. These facilities provide inpatient care, outpatient care, support, counseling and therapy to the individuals and families that are struggling with addiction.

Drug substitution

The risk that individuals in recovery might replace their drug of choice with another substance.

Drug testing

The analysis of blood, urine, saliva, hair, or other bodily tissue for the presence of psychoactive substances.

Drug tolerance

The decrease in responsiveness to a drug over time.

Drug-related problem

Any medical or psychological problem resulting from drug use, particularly illicit drug use.

Drug-replacement therapy

The prescription of any drug with the intention to help an addicted person withdraw from or quit a different drug

Drug-Seeking Behavior

Drug-seeking behavior refers to the patterns or behaviors that an addict or drug abuser will use in order to obtain drugs. This may include doctor-shopping, faking an illness, stealing or making threats in order to get drugs, using a false identity or fake prescriptions to obtain drugs, or lying about conditions, pain or other illnesses that could help a doctor to decide to write a prescription.

Drugged driving

Operating a vehicle while under the impairing influence of a drug.

Drunk driving

The dangerous and criminal practice of operating a vehicle with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Count) above the legal limit set by the state in question, typically between 0.04-0.08%.


A stylized and frequently repeated verbal presentation of one’s experience with alcohol, or “drinking career,” characterized by grandiosity and mechanical manner in which it is delivered


A slang term for the practice of replacing food calories for alcohol calories, most commonly observed in female college students, who may restrict food intake or purge to make up for consuming large quantities of alcohol.

Dry Drunk

A dry drunk is an individual that has made the decision to stop drinking but has not fully recovered from the psychological and emotional challenges of alcoholism. Dry drunks often struggle to remain sober because of the underlying psychological stronghold that alcoholism has on them. Often times a dry drunk will act out in negative or hurtful ways towards those they love because they do not know how to replace the time that they now have as a result of not drinking. Support and unconditional love are necessary to help a dry drunk overcome this stage of the alcohol recovery process.

DTs (delirium tremens)

A side effect of alcohol withdrawal or abstinence in addicted persons, with such symptoms as confusion, trembling, vivid hallucinations, and possibly restlessness, agitation, trembling, sleeplessness, rapid heartbeat, and convulsions.

Dual diagnosis

Another term for comorbidity, or the simultaneous occurrence of a substance addiction diagnosis and a separate psychological disorder. An individual, for example, may be dually diagnosed with alcoholism and major depressive disorder.

Dual diagnosis capable (DDC)

In reference to programs with the capacity to address co-occuring mental and substance use disorders in their assessment and treatment approaches, policies, procedures, and program content.

Dual Diagnosis Enhanced (DDE)

In reference to programs with a higher than average degree of integration of both substance use disorder and mental health disorder treatment, with the capacity to provide care for patients who may be more symptomatic or otherwise impaired than patients in DDC programs due to their co-occurring mental health disorder.

Dual recovery

Simultaneous recovery from two co-occuring disorders, ie. alcoholism and bipolar disorder.

Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA)

A 12-step mutual aid group adapted from the Alcoholics Anonymous model, intended for individuals recovering from a substance use disorder as well as a mental illness.

Dual recovery groups

Therapy groups in which recovery skills for co-occuring disorders are taught and discussed, ie. recovery skills for alcoholism as well as major depressive disorder.

Dually disordered

Having been simultaneously diagnosed with two disorders, ie. a substance use disorder along with a separate mental health condition.


DUI refers to impaired driving. This is a legal action that involves being arrested for drinking and driving a vehicle while over the state legal blood alcohol limit. Each state sets legal alcohol levels and individuals found to be operating a motor vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit are subject to arrest, incarceration and other consequences.


“Driving While Intoxicated”


In addiction treatment, the tendency of one addiction to cause another. Alternatively, the tendency of an addicted person to combine substances for an amplified effect.

Dysfunctional use

Any use of a substance that leads to impaired functioning, whether social, psychological, physical, or otherwise, such as loss of employment, compromised health, or marital problems.


A temporary state of low, or depressed, mood; the opposite of euphoria, or an unnatural emotional “high”.

Early intervention

A proactive therapeutic strategy initiated by the therapist rather than the client, in which signs of dysfunctional substance use are detected early and subsequently treated. In this approach, treatment may be offered before the individual might be aware that their behavior is problematic, and is directed at individuals who have not developed physical dependence or major psychosocial complications. Early intervention typically follows a systematic procedure: routine inquiry about use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in the clinical history; screening tests; and supplementary questions to help confirm the diagnosis.Treatment may be more extensive in other settings.

Early Recovery

Early recovery is the beginning stage of healing during the first year following your last use of drugs or alcohol. The first 90 days for most are the hardest, but as time goes on, you are still vulnerable to the risk of relapse. However, after 1 full year of sobriety, risks for relapse are said to reduce substantially and each day gets a bit easier.


Ecstasy or MDMA is a drug that is often nicknamed Molly, Ex, or Beans in the club scene. Made up of a chemical compound knowns as 3, 4-mthylenedloxy-methamphetamine, Ecstasy is a Schedule 1 drug which means it has no legitimate use and is illegal to consume, possess or manufacture. However, it wasn’t always this way. Ecstasy was once used in psychological treatment to help couples overcome relationship problems.

Ecstasy Addiction

Ecstasy addiction impacts thousands of people globally. This includes becoming physically or psychologically dependent on MDMA such that without the substance the user feels depressed, lethargic or otherwise uncomfortable.

Ego State Therapy

A short-term psychodynamic therapy based on the Freudian model of the psyche, which focuses on treating problematic “ego states” (defined as a consistent pattern of thinking, feeling and behavior), rather than a certain symptom or disorder.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy is a form of psychiatric treatment commonly used for individuals that are depressed or manic. When this treatment is used, the patient is anesthetized and the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) causes immediate seizures within the brain. The seizures are said to stop depression and may also help with long-term memory loss as well as other forms of mental health disorders.

Electronic medical record

The digital version of a patient’s medical history chart from one practice.

Eleventh step groups

Mutual aid groups based on Step 11 of AA’s 12-step program, “commit to a spiritual practice.”


The concept of recovery as freedom from the slavery of substance addiction.

Emotional sobriety

A phrase coined by AA co-founder Bill Wilson (1958) to describe a state of emotional health that far exceeded simply the achievement of not drinking.

Emotional Therapy

Emotional therapy is a type of relationship therapy that focuses on helping the patient to become emotionally close with his or her psychiatrist or counselor. This therapy helps patients to be more aware and open to their surroundings offering ways to understand how emotional needs are met in relationships and what each individual can do to improve upon his or her emotional existence.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

An approach to therapy based on the concept that emotions determine identity and individual decision making, and that lack of awareness of emotions or avoidance of negative emotions prevents use of the valuable information they provide. EFT is based on principles of experiential therapy (such as person-centered therapy and Gestalt therapy), systemic therapy, and attachment theory.

Employee Assistance Program

A recovery program that offers for treatment of an alcohol- or drug-related problem, or other mental disorder, on the basis of an employee’s work performance or results of a drug screening.


A sense of having control and initiative over one’s own actions and destiny within the recovery context.


Any action taken by a friend, relative, or other individual close to the addict, which either advertently or inadvertently facilitates the addict in their addiction. An enabler may aim to help the addict, but ultimately harms them by facilitating the misuse of a substance either through financial support or otherwise.


Enabling means that you or the enabler is making it possible or even easy for an addict to continue to abuse drugs or alcohol. You may be enabling an addict without even realizing it. For instance, if you pay the power bill for an addict or you buy groceries for hm or her instead of just giving them money to buy drugs you are still enabling their addiction. Enable can also be in the form of handing over money or you may make excuses for the individual such as “he’s sick” or “he’s just not feeling well.” The reality is, the lies, the help, and the continued support of a situation that is not acceptable enables the addiction to continue when it may otherwise be impossible.


In reference to alcoholism, alcoholic encephalopathy indicates that brain tissue damage as a result of an organic brain disorder is associated with or caused by alcohol use.


Endocet is a combination of Oxycodone and acetaminophen that is prescribed for the treatment of severe pain. Acetaminophen intensifies the effects of the narcotic in the medication providing a longer lasting pain relief option to those who are struggling. Unfortunately, this Schedule II drug is highly addictive and may lead to widespread symptoms of withdrawal when a user attempts to quit. Symptoms of Endocet withdrawal may include anxiety, nausea, and vomiting, diarrhea and insomnia.


Endorphins are unique chemical structures within the body that naturally occur when you feel pain, pleasure or stress. Endorphins are sometimes referred to as the body’s “Happy chemical” as they produce a sense of happiness, or euphoria. When pain is involved, endorphins tell the body that it will be ok. When pleasure is involved, endorphins help the body to feel a sort of “high” that is exciting and fun. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol can also increase endorphins making the body crave this pleausre over and over. The increase in endorphin production is what causes euphoria and the high sense that comes from substance abuse.


A recovering individual’s involvement in the recovery progress and commitment to maintain recovery.

Enmeshed style of recovery

An approach to recovery in which the individual remains completely sequestered within recovery culture and recovery circles, isolating them from addiction culture and to some degree from “civilian culture.”


Epinephrine is a word that means adrenaline. This hormone is naturally created in the body as a response to stress or excitement. Epinephrine crates a thrill for the user. The hormonal balance of Epinephrine in a human’s body is increased when drugs or alcohol are abused. Taking the substances away will depleate epinephrine levels making the individual feel sick, restless or otherwise unwell.

Equine Therapy

Equine therapy is a type of animal therapy that involves the use of horses to build trust and self-esteem in individuals that are recovering from a wide range of behavioral disorders including substance abuse and addiction. Equine therapy can help with PTSD and anxiety and has also been used to help build self-awareness to improve treatment efficacy of those who are struggling with certain types of eating disorders.


Euphoria is the sense of happiness, elation, and extreme well-being that comes naturally from a spike in Epinephrine or endorphins. Euphoria can also come as a result of drug or alcohol use. When an individual is feeling euphoric, her or she may not necessarily think straight or be well enough to understand what is actually going on. Due to euphoria, many users seek to get high over and over again in an effort to achieve the same level of euphoria that was first achieved by substance use. Unfortunately, scientists believe that this euphoria will never be achieved after the first time and this is what leads to addiction.

Evidence-based practices

Evidence based practices are scientifically proven medical interventions that take place to help patients overcome a mental or physical health condition such as addiction. Evidence based means that the practices used have been tested over and over in a real world setting with real patients. If you choose a rehab center that provides “evidence-based practices” you are likely to experience a higher rate of recovery success.

Evidence-based treatment

A term for any treatment approach that has been validated by scientific knowledge and study.

Experimental Therapy

Experimental therapy is a term sometimes used to describe up-coming or new types of therapy that are being tired in a clinical trials and studies. While experimental therapy is not necessarily a psychotherapy, some experimental therapies do become legitimate psychotherapy treatment models that help patients to recover from various behavioral disorders, process addictions, and even physical health conditions.

Experimental use

Typically refers to the first few instances of using a substance, sometimes indicating very infrequent or non-persistent usage.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is often used in the treatment of panic disorder and anxiety to help humans overcome the crippling nature of being overly stressed or overwhelmed by certain activities or events. Through gradual and consistent exposure to the trigger that otherwise causes anxiety, patients are able to slowly make strides towards struggling less with the exposure to these situations and they learn how to effectively cope with the trauma, stress or other emotional responses that would otherwise arise in such an event.

Faith-based recovery

The addressing and resolution of addiction recovery in the context of religious or faith-based principles or ideas. An individual may undergo a faith-based recovery program based on his/her own religious alliance and seek recovery in compliance with certain religious or spiritual principles, with the support of the faith-based community.

Families Anonymous

A free, 12-step confidential program concerned with the struggles and experience of families of individuals with drug or alcohol addictions.

Family Addiction Treatment

Family addiction treatment takes place in a residential or outpatient rehab center and involves letting the family members and loved ones of the addict get together to learn more about addiction, find ways to help each other and heal from the past pain that the addiction has caused in the family system. Whether you’re the addict or the family of the addict, dealing with addiction can be tough. the system of the family is interrupted by lies, stealing, distrust, and a wealth of other complications that arise when an individual is heavily abusing drugs or alcohol. Family addiction treatment can help you overcome these challenges.

Family illness

The concept of addiction as something that affects and harms the individual’s entire family.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a psychotherapeutic process that involves brining the family in for counseling when a trauma or other problem such as addiction has occurred. Family therapy works on the premise that every family has its own set of patterns and beliefs that can be deeply impacted by traumatic evens such as depression, anxiety, addiction or other problems of a family member. The illness itself is treated in other ways, but the family support system can be rebuilt through counseling in family therapy.


An acronym for the slogan “Face Everything and Recover”.


Fellowship comes as a group of people comes together to share common bonds, interests or goals. A fellowship may occur at church, at a cookout or family outing, or in a meeting such as a twelve-step meeting like NA or AA. Fellowship found in these types of meetings provides people with a group to share their addiction recovery with, someone to help them remain accountable and to achieve their recovery and healing goals.

Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction is the byproduct of Fentanyl abuse. This drug is 1000 times stronger than heroin or other opiates and is prescribed ONLY to cancer patients. While Fentanyl is a Schedule II drug, it is prescribed very sparingly as the risks for addiction and dangerous overdose are significant when this drug makes it into the hands of an addict. Fentanyl addiction requires extensive treatment in a drug rehab to help the patient overcome withdrawal and fight back the cravings that occur following the just short-term use of this drug.

Fentora Addiction

Fentora addiction is much like opiate dependence. This drug is just one of the many brands of the opiate Fentanyl which may also be marketed under the brands Actiq and Duragesic. Available in a lollipop, patch, or lozenge form, this drug is highly addictive and more potent than heroin. Overdose is a serious risk and users must be very wary of the risks involved with repeat use.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the term attached to unborn babies that are disrupted by a mother’s decision to consume alcohol during pregnancy. Alcohol-related disorders that come along with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may include poor problem-solving skills, lack of memory or poor memory retention, poor coordination and a heightened risk of miscarriage. In fact, the risk of miscarriage increases more than double for an unborn baby who’s mother drinks when compared to a mother who does not drink.

Fetal Drug Syndrome

A range of birth defects and abnormalities of physical/mental development in the children of drug-abusing mothers.


Flexaril is a muscle relaxer that is prescribed to treat muscle spasms that are short-term. Because this drug is highly addictive, most doctors do not prescribe Flexaril on a long-term basis unless there are invaluable benefits to the use of it versus the risk of addiction. Also known as Cyclobenzaprine Hydrochloride, Flexaril alters the processing of the muscle nerves in the bran to reduce the severity of instance of signals that are transmitted upward to the brain itself.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The Food and Drug Administration is a Federal agency that is responsible for ensuring the safety of the foods and medications that are consumed in the United States. Also known as the FDA, this organization makes judgement calls as to what medications or drugs are available for prescription in the U.S. and what medications must not be made available to residents due to safety recalls or other reasons.


Freebasing is a term used on the streets to describe the smoking of crack cocaine. Some people also refer to freebasing as smoking crystal meth. The drug is smoked either from a glass pipe, a can or another object to produce euphoric effects.

Gateway drug

A substance, either licit or illicit, the use of which increases the likelihood and ease with which an individual will become addicted to another substance.

Group therapy

A therapeutic approach in which several patients convene with one or more therapists at the same time and support one another, as well as receive professional support and advice. This can also refer to what is known as “encounter therapy” groups, in which patients analyze each other under the supervision of professional therapists.


The reconstruction of an entirely new lifestyle and identity independent of one’s addiction, a sense of “starting fresh” rather than attempting to recover what was lost to the addiction.


An outdated term for persistent drug use resulting from addiction and physical dependence.


The concept of alcohol and drug problems as an acquired habit that may be broken, like any other ingrained habit, though the application of proven techniques to change long-standing habits.

Halfway house

Also known as a recovery home, halfway houses are residences at which individuals live in the interim between inpatient or residential addiction treatment and full integration back into the community. Halfway houses also exist for individuals just out of prison or with other psychiatric disorders.


Visual or auditory perceptions of something that does not exist in the real world, a symptom of hallucinogenic drug use or certain psychiatric disorders, ie. schizophrenia.


A diverse group of drugs that alter the user’s thoughts, perceptions and feelings. The majority of hallucinogen use is oral, and regular usage is typically periodic and rare, as opposed to habitual. Common hallucinogens include LSD; PCP; mescaline; and psilocybin (mushrooms, or “shrooms”). Hallucinogenic drug use is often accompanied by a sense of magical control and fantastical mental experiences and thinking.

Harm reduction

A technique used to treat drug addiction that first aims to provide the addict with the safest environment possible in which to use, limiting potential harm to the individual before actually restricting or limiting access to drugs or alcohol.


A cannabinoid, or chemical compound made from the marijuana plant, with the same ingredients and psychotropic effects of marijuana though in a more concentrated form. Effects of hashish include alteration of perception and mood, increased heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and impairment of memory, concentration, and coordination.


Inflammation of the liver, often the result of alcohol or other drug abuse, which can result in liver cell damage and, potentially, death.

Hepatitis B

A liver inflammation condition transferred via shared needles, body piercing and tattooing using unsterilized instruments, the dialysis process, sexual and other intimate contact, and childbirth. Symptoms include fatigue, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, light stools.


A highly addictive and illegal drug, processed from morphine, that can be taken intravenously or nasally. Heroin was once used medically as an analgesic or sedative or for the treatment of morphine addiction, however, due to its addictive nature, it is now prohibited in the U.S. under federal law for medical use, manufacturing and importation. Abusers typically report feeling a “rush,” or surge of pleasurable sensation, which is usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and a heavy feeling in the extremities, which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe itching. After the initial effects, users are usually drowsy for several hours; mental function is clouded; heart function slows, and breathing is also severely slowed.

High-bottom recovery

An experience and perspective of recovery through the realization that one could lose everything if they continue their addiction. High-bottom alcoholics, for example, are those who have not yet experienced significant personal loss as a result of their addiction.

High-functioning alcoholic

A person who maladaptively uses alcohol but is able to present function in a way that their addiction does not visibly infringe upon their life. High-functioning alcoholics may be successful in school, work, or their social lives and manage to keep their addiction hidden, maintaining an appearance of normalcy.

Higher power

In the 12-step recovery tradition, the personification of a power “greater than ourselves” that aids in restoring sobriety and sanity to the addicted.

Hitting bottom

In the context of substance addiction, a term for the experience of complete anguish and despair.

Human Givens Therapy

A form of therapy that attributes all forms of mental illness and emotional distress to the manifestation of unmet needs; conversely asserting that mental illness cannot occur when all needs are met.


A commonly abused narcotic pain reliever often prescribed to an individual after surgery, an injury, or to manage severe chronic pain. Abusers typically take the pill either by itself or in combination with alcohol for its opioid effects.


A narcotic painkiller produced from synthetic opium, useful for mild to moderate pain control, that at higher doses inducing a stupor-like state. Hydrocodone is highly addictive if not used as prescribed, and cessation of use can result in withdrawal symptoms.


A commonly abused, potent narcotic pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe pain, with a painkilling capacity 2-8 times that of morphine. Hydromorphone provides an effect similar to heroin and due to its relatively easy to obtain status, is often abused by heroin addicts when heroin is not available.


A common symptom of stimulant drug abuse, in particular, hyperactivity refers to a period of unnatural energy, and sometimes impulsivity and elevated mood.


One of several brand names for the sedative sleep medication zolpidem, use of which can result in dependency if the recommended dose or duration of dosage is exceeded. The consumption of alcohol intensifies the effects of hypnogen.


A form of therapy in which the individual is induced into a heightened state of awareness and thus becomes open to suggestions made by your hypnotherapist, in alignment with your desired results. For example, for an individual who eats compulsively, suggestions may include “I will only eat when I am truly hungry”.


Another term for sedative; or a drug that induces sleep.


The part of the brain that acts as the main control center for all organs and regulates many bodily functions, such as feeding, drinking, body temperature, and the release of hormones.


A slang term for the smokeable form of methamphetamine.


Abbreviation for Intensive Case Management

Identity realignment

The process of either salvaging one’s pre-addiction identity, fully developing an identity beyond the confines of one’s addiction or creating a post-addiction identity unadulterated by the effects of addiction.

Idiosyncratic reaction

A unique, individual, non-dose-dependent physiological response to a substance that occurs unpredictably.


The framing of an addiction as the sin of worshipping a false god, a perspective found in many religious traditions. For example, Islam views alcoholism as a fruit of the tree of Jahiliyyah (ignorance/idolatry).


Instantaneous drug use, or the administering of drugs via injection.

Ignition interlocks

A device that is installed in a vehicle to prevent the driver from operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol by requiring the individual to breathe into the ignition interlock device before starting the ignition. A BAC (Blood Alcohol Count) above the predesignated limit prevents the vehicle from starting. These devices are required by 7 states for all DUI offenders, and by 22 states for all repeat offenders.

Illicit drug

A psychoactive drug or substance, the use, distribution, or sale of which is prohibited by law. The drug itself typically is not expressly prohibited, but the distribution of said drug without the medical clearance and license to do so, and unprescribed use of which, is prohibited.

Illness self-management

The assumption of primary responsibility for knowledge and understanding of one’s own illness, management and alleviation of symptoms or limitation, and overall taking control of one’s own care, shifting the focal point of recovery away from the expert caregiver and toward the patient.

Impaired control

Severely limited capacity to control one’s own thoughts, actions, or reactions.


An altered, dysfunctional physical and mental state as a result of substance use.

Impulsive behavior

The precursor to addiction as a compulsive and nearly involuntary act. The cycle of impulsive behavior in substance abuse can be defined as craving (anticipation of use), intoxication (binge), and withdrawal. Habitual substance use causes the impulsive behavior to eventually develop into an impulsive act, causing neurological changes in the substance user’s body.


A tendency to act without forethought to consequences due to an inability to execute reflective decision-making, resist urges, and delay gratification.

Inability to abstain

One of two forms of impaired control over use of a substance, referring to the inability to or unwillingness to refrain from substance use. The other form is the inability to stop substance use once started.

Indigenous Healers And Institutions

Organizations and individuals in the recovering person’s natural environment who offer verbal, logistical, and emotional support in the form of rituals, brainstorming, and provision of resources and relationships to aid the recovery process.


The first of four phases at the start pf Buprenorphine treatment.


The adverb form of “inebriation,” or disruption of consciousness and/or physical and psychological functioning as a result of drug use.


The state of being intoxicated, implying a pattern of habitual drunkenness.


The tendency of a maladaptive behavior to increase, slowly but surely, in frequency and severity.


Any breathable chemical vapor ingested by the user to acheive a high. The act of using an inhalant substance can be referred to as sniffing, snorting, and huffing, and alters the user’s mental state.


A patient or specific treatment program that requires a stay in the hospital. See also: outpatient

Inpatient rehab

The most intensive form of treatment for substance abuse, dependence, and addiction, in which the patient resides at the treatment facility and is monitored 24 hours a day as they undergo the recovery process. In some cases, detoxification is required prior to admittance into an inpatient rehabilitation center.


The mutual coordination of general and behavioral healthcare in the context of addiction treatment, combining primary care, mental health care, and substance use-related treatment in order to create the most effective method of treatment possible.


A process during which a professional interventionist works with a family and/or friends to confront the addicted individual with their behavior, make it clear they will no longer enable the addiction and help them accept treatment. The best interventions are managed by a licensed or credentialed individual with a strong intervention background who understands the powerful psychological elements of denial by the addict and those impacted by the addict’s addiction.


A professional counselor who helps families, friends or employers of someone who is abusing substances stage a confrontation with that person in an effort to convince them to enter treatment. The interventionist arranges the time and place for the confrontation and mediates the flow of communication during the process.


A temporary state of impairment or altered consciousness as the result of alcohol or other drug use, disturbing both an individual’s physiological responsiveness as well as perceptions, behavior, judgment, cognition, and other functions.

Intrinsic activity

The degree to which a drug activates a receptor and produces a functional response.


Traditional drink prepared from the roots of a shrub common in the South Pacific, Kava provides a mild sedation and euphoric sensation. Dependence-causing.

Klonopin ®

A brand of the drug clonazepam, a sedative substance prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders.

Late recovery

The stage in addiction recovery where the individual has achieved long-term sobriety and now sees sobriety as a natural way of life.

Licit drug

A drug that is available either via legal medical prescription or legally without a prescription.

LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)

A common hallucinogen that creates euphoria and can trigger severe psychological traumas.


Stabilization of a patient currently and indefinitely on the lowest effective dose of a drug.

Making amends

The process by which recovering people identify and seek to rectify wrongs they committed in pre-recovery years in the best possible way, paying off both the literal and figurative debts of addiction and paving the way for atonement, forgiveness, and alleviation of guilt.


A state of abnormally elevated mood characterized by symptoms such as significantly increased energy levels increased sexual desire, increased speed/volume of speech, socially inappropriate behavior, insomnia, irritability, racing thoughts, and an inability to focus.


A regularly scheduled and moderated support or mutual aid group aimed at assisting those in recovery, the backbone of self-help groups.


A long-lasting, synthetic opioid medication used both in treating opiate addiction and managing pain. Centers at which heroine or other addicts can receive methadone treatment are often referred to as “methadone clinics”.


A highly addictive and dangerous stimulant drug, chemically similar to amphetamines, with an elevating effect on the central nervous system.

Middle Recovery Stage

The stage of recovery that occurs after the individual has maintained sobriety for some time, is more confident in their ability to abstain and is able to return to a more “normal” life sans addictive behavior.


Any drug use, whether prescription or over-the-counter, that varies from the medically recommended usage and dosage.


Therapy using only one drug.

Mood disorder

A psychological disorder characterized by instability of mood and unpredictable elevating and lowering of a person’s mood, seemingly without reason. Examples include bipolar disorder and depressive disorders.


A commonly abused crystalline narcotic drug that acts as a pain reliever, derived from opium, with highly addicted properties

Mu opiod agonist

A drug which stimulates physiological activity at the mu opioid cell receptors.


A type of narcotic (or opiate) antagonist used commonly in the treatment of heroin overdose and addiction. Naloxone is a safe and effective substance that works quickly to block the narcotic’s effect on the brain.


An opioid antagonist or substance that blocks effects of a drug–used to treat drug or alcohol dependence by suppressing cravings.


A drug that induces stupor, sleep, or insensibility and can act as a pain reliever. Narcotics are highly addictive and habit-forming.

Negative reinforcement

In substance abuse terminology, the tendency of negative feelings or experiences in response to removal of the addictive substance leads the individual to use the substance in order to reduce negative symptoms.


A chemical produced naturally by the brain that carries messages to and influences adjacent neurons. The “messengers” of the brain.


An alkaloid substance, highly addictive, by use which a person often becomes addicted via cigarettes. An alkaloid (a nitrogen-containing chemical) made by the tobacco plant or produced synthetically. Nicotine has powerful pharmacologic effects (including increased heart rate, heart stroke volume, and oxygen consumption by the heart muscle), as well as powerful psychodynamic effects (such as euphoria, increased alertness, and a sense of relaxation). Nicotine is also powerfully addictive.


Abbreviation for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the National Health Institutes in the United States.


Abbreviation for National Institutes of Health.

Nitrous oxide

A weak anesthetic, also called laughing gas, used for mild pain relief and sometimes recreationally to obtain a brief euphoric high.

Nodding (out)

A slang term for the semi-stuperous state induced by opioid and sedative-hypnotic drug use, characterized by a bowed head, head bobbing, and drooping eyelids.


Any of a class of drug that does not activate opioid receptors.


A persistent and unwanted preoccupation or behavior that one repeats involuntarily.

Off-label use

The use of an FDA-approved drug, prescribed by a medical professional, for the purpose of addressing an issue that while not included on the product label as a recommended usage, is deemed by the professional a good solution for the issue at hand.


Alkaloid drugs derived from opium, which is processed from the sap of the opium poppy. Opiates produce an effect ranging from euphoria and analgesia to stupor, coma, and respiratory depression. Opiates are sometimes used as powerful painkillers in medical settings, for example, morphine. Other opiates include codeine, thebaine, papaverine, heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.


A synthetic form of opium, which works by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, and reduces pain by decreasing the perception of pain and increasing pain tolerance. Used recreationally, opioids induce a state of euphoria.


A potent, highly addictive stimulant narcotic drug derived from the poppy plant.

Over-the-counter drugs

Pharmaceutical drugs that are available legally and without a prescription.


The intentional or accidental consumption of a drug larger than the using individual is used to or recommended for medical usage. Overdose, or OD, can be fatal if not treated properly.


A medicine used to treat moderate to high levels of pain, commonly administered postoperatively or after childbirth.


A powerful pain medication with effects similar to morphine. OxyContin is highly addictive, and users frequently turn to heroin when OxyContin itself proves too difficult to obtain.


Analgesic drugs, whether opioids or non-opioids, used to treat and manage pain.


Objects that are used in the preparation or administration of drugs, such as needles, syringes, roach clips, or a variety of pipes.

Partial recovery

The achievement of certain hallmarks of recovery, such as reduced frequency, duration, and intensity of substance use without achieving complete abstinence or avoidance of symptoms; or avoidance of symptoms while still suffering negative effects on personal, social, and professional life as a result of substance abuse or dependence.


A person under care for treatment of a substance abuse disorder.

Peer support

A structured group relationship in which people meet for the purpose of providing and receiving support from others in similar situations, facing similar challenges. A medical professional is not necessarily required in such informal settings.


In substance abuse terminology, a nutritional deficiency caused by lack of niacin (Vitamin B6 and nicotine acid), with symptoms such as confusion, depression, symmetrical dermatitis affecting light-exposed parts of the body, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, typically seen in heavy drinkers. Hallucinations, delusions, and even eventual dementia may result if the deficiency is left untreated.


The brand name for a strong painkiller prescribed short-term for the reduction of intense pain, often post-operatively, that combines acetaminophen and oxycodone. The oxycodone present in Percocet is a narcotic that alters the brain and central nervous system’s response to pain.

Person(S) Or People with…

Used in reference to people with substance abuse disorders in place of “substance addicts”, sometimes preferred by those who do not want to be defined by their disease.

Personal inventory

Step 4 in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, defined as “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Individuals list personal character assets and areas of life, and account for the various decisions that have led them to their current stage.


A psychoactive drug classified by the DEA as a Schedule 1 substance, and illegal in all circumstances save for certain Native American tribes who use it for religious purposes.

Pharmaceutical drugs

Drugs manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry or made up by a pharmacist, available from pharmaceutical sources. Pharmaceutical drugs are characterized within the industry as ethical drugs, available only by prescription, and over-the-counter; or proprietary drugs, advertised to the consumer and sold without a prescription.


The study of how drugs act within the body as time progresses, examining the processes of absorption, distribution, localization in tissues, biotransformation, and excretion.


Extreme, debilitating, and irrational fears resulting from trauma or as a symptom of anxiety.

Physical dependence

A state of physiological adaptation to a substance to the point that cessation of substance use causes withdrawal symptoms. Physical dependence can occur independently of addiction.


An inactive pill, liquid, or other substance with no effect on the human body, often administered to the control group in medical studies to test the effectiveness of active drugs.

Polysubstance Dependence

Concurrent use and subsequent physical/psychological dependence of two or more substances to the degree of significant psychological, psysiological, or emotional impairment and distress.

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (Paws)

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, occurs between the onset of abstinence and neurological stabilization as the brain adjusts to functioning without substances.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A condition of severe and persistent mental and emotional stress after a terrifying experience, such as a natural disaster or physical attack, characterized by sleep disturbances, vivid recall of the event, recurrent thoughts and flashbacks, irritability, and anger management problems.


The conceptualization and aknowledgement of oneself as unable to control frequency and quantity of substance use through willpower alone.

Prescription drug abuse

The use of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, ie. to get high. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include opioids such as codeine, oxycodone, and morphine; central nervous system depressants such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines; and stimulants such as dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate.


Measures taken to minimize the use of potentially addicting substances, lowering risk of dependence in those susceptible, and generally minimizing negative consequences of substance use. Prevention measures may be social, economic, legal, medical, or psychological, and may occur on an individual, community, or society-wide scale.

Problem drinking

An umbrella term for any harmful or abnormal use of alcohol, or a pattern of drinking associated with psychological escape from life’s problems.


Any codified, organized approach to addiction recovery, though often synonymous with Twelve Step recovery.


Behavioral changes, ie. desperate drug-seeking, in non-addicted patients that seem similar to behavior of addicted people, but instead result from inadequate pain control.

Psychedelic drug

A drug that causes distortion in perception, thought and feeling, characteristic of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD.


Pertaining to or within the purview of psychiatry, the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness.


A physician specializing in mental illnesses, the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis, management, and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are not therapists, but rather medical doctors within the mental health arena.

Psychological dependence

Reliance on a drug based on its pleasurable psychological effects, the enjoyment of which can lead to the excessive or compulsive use of said drug and, ultimately, addiction. Users with a psychological dependence may experience depression, boredom, anxiety, or irritation when in a state of abstinence.


The study of how drugs affect state of being in terms of consciousness, mood, sensation, etc.


A mental illness or symptom of some drug use that results in markedly distorted mental capacity, ability to distinguish between reality and the imaginary, and relationships with other people to the point that it interferes with basic functioning.


The combination of psychological and social aspects.

Psychotropic Medication

Drugs designed to impact common mental and psychological conditions.


A detox procedure commonly carried out in an ICU for the purposes of rapidly enabling the opiate detoxification of the patient.


A molecule or protein located on the membrane or cytoplasm of a target cell with which a drug interacts.


A relapse into negative behavior, ie. drug use.


The process of acheiving and maintaining a state of stable abstinence from and healthy coping with the behaviors and impulses associated with substance abuse and addiction. Typically, recovery involves long term and total sobriety from the addictive substance. Ultimately the individual strives for physiological and psychological freedom from the addictive substance and the ability to lead a self-directed life.

Recovery capital

The personal, familial, social, and environmental resources the individual has in place to support them in recovery, reinforcing the fact that recovery is not an isolated process.

Recovery home

Another term for halfway house. (See Halfway house)


The process by which individual acts to change his or her behaviors and learn to function normally and healthily without use of an addictive substance. Rehabilitation can refer to the process undertaken in a specific recovery-centered environment, like a rehabilitation facility, or to the general act of recovering and changing one’s approach to life.


A return to drinking, drug use, or other substance abuse after a period of abstinence, accompanied by the reintroduction of dependency symptoms. Some professionals and addicted individuals differentiate between “lapses,” or short-term, sometimes single-instance slips in sobriety, and extended periods of return to old habits over a longer period.

Relapse Prevention

A method of planning and mapping out a safety plan to prevent returning to substance use or help individuals cope with lapses/relapses. Patients are taught coping strategies that can be used to avoid situations considered dangerous precipitants of relapse, and shown, through mental rehearsal and other techniques, how to minimize substance use once a slip has occurred.


A medical term for a period in which symptoms and other indications of a disease have disappeared, or are no longer detectable.

Risk Factor

Elements in the biology, environment or psychology of an individual that predisposes them for illnesses including addiction.


A term for the surge of pleasure or euphoria that follows the administration of certain drugs.


“Sobriety lost its priority”.


Stands for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Health Department concerned with “improving the quality and availability of treatment and rehabilitative services in order to reduce illness, death, disability, and the cost to society resulting from substance abuse and mental illnesses”.


Any measuring tool used to evaluate the extent of one’s addiction or likelihood of other mental/behavioral health conditions. Examples might include a self-report questionnaire or life history assessment when used in relation to behavioral health.

Secular recovery

An approach to recovery that, in contrast with programs like AA, do not center on religious or spiritual ideas (God, a Higher Power), conversion experiences, or religious rituals, for example, prayer. Secular recovery programs include Secular Organization for Sobriety, LifeRing Secular Recovery, and Rational Recovery.


Central nervous system depressant drugs that promote calm, relaxation, and induce sleep. Sedative drugs include benzodiazepines and barbituates. Some drugs in this class also induce amnesia, muscle relaxation, or have anticonvulsant properties.

Self-help group

A therapeutic group that teaches self-moderation skills to people in recovery, especially cognitive behavioral self-management techniques.


A form of stylized communication within the context of mutual aid societies.

Short-acting opioids

Opioid drugs with a half-life (or length of time for the concentration of a substance in the body to decrease by half) of eight hours or less. Short-acting opioids include Heroin, Crushed OxyContin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Oxycodone®

Side effects

Usually undesirable secondary effects of drug use


Within the context of addiction recovery, slogans are abbreviated phrases embodying recovery principles used to communicate with oneself and others in recovery.


“Self Management and Recovery Training”

Sobriety date

A term for the anniversary date of one’s last drink or episode of drug use.

Sobriety priority

The decision to never use alcohol or drugs again, no matter what, in the context of the Secular Organization for Sobriety and LifeRing Secular Recovery.

Solo recovery

Addiction recovery that takes place independently of professionally-directed treatment programs or mutual aid societies.


A term for amphetamines.


A slang term for the combination of a stimulant and an opioid drug.

Spheres of recovery

The various areas of life which are affected by recovery, ie. physical recovery, family/relational recovery, social recovery, financial recovery, all of which are impacted by the recovery process.


A mind-altering drug comprised of dried plant material and synthetic/designer cannabinoid compounds. Effects vary widely by product.

Spiritual awakening

An understanding of the progressive changes in self and relationships experienced by recovering people as a gradual process, as opposed to a sudden conversion. This experience and awareness of change within oneself and in relation to others is often considered a spiritual experience in that it personally informs, empowers, liberates, and connects the recovering person to resources both inside and outside themselves.


A mentorship between one recovering person and another, one of whom is a newcomer and one of whom has extensive experience in AA and acts as a guide throughout the process. The person acting as mentor is the sponsor in the relationship.

Stability/duration (of recovery)

The point in time at which maintenance of recovery is considered likely and the possibility of relapse remote, typically defined by experts as a period of 3-5 years. This differentiates true recovery from periods of temporary cessation of substance use that are typical in the addiction cycle.


Also called detoxification when conducted in a medical setting, stabilization is the process of safely removing addictive substances from the body while attempting to reduce the patient’s discomfort throughout the process.

Stage One recovery

The first of two recovery stages named by Ernie Larsen, which is the process of breaking an addiction and the inevitability of persistent use.

Stage Two recovery

(See Stage One recovery) Stage Two recovery removes the focus from changing addictive behavior and emphasizes reconstruction of personal character, identity, and worldview, and repairing/reconstructing personal relationships with others.

Stages of change model

A method of evaluating and understanding the behavioral change process for people considering changes an unwanted behavior, such as substance use, identifying a series of 5 stages through which the person moves

Standard drink

A measure of alcohol consumption based on a set standard for what constitutes a “typical drink” regardless of beverage type. For example, in the United States, a standard drink contains 14 grams of pure alcohol, meaning 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol; 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol; or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol, all constitute a standard drink.

Starts with S

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Non-addictive substances that are nervertheless misused for their performance enhacing capabilities, particularly their production of testosterone, a hormone which promotes muscle building.


A class of drug that stimulates the central nervous system and enhances mood, energy levels, sense of well-being, and alertness.


A term for people who don’t drink or use drugs.


A term for drugs that enter the body through membranes under the tongue.


In addiction treatment terminology, the chemical or another agent to which an individual has become addicted.

Substance abuse

A maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by the following within a 12-month period: 1. Recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home. 2. Recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous. 3. Recurrent substance-related legal problems. 4. Continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance.

Substance use disorders

The clinical, umbrella term used to describe a group of substance-related disorders ranging from excessive use of a substance to substance abuse or dependence.


The increased effect when more than one substance is taken simultaneously.

Tapering down

A strategy of gradually reducing drug use either in preparation for total abstinence or as a means in itself, designed to ease acute withdrawal symptoms upon quitting, decrease tolerance, and prime the individual for recovery.


An individual who veers periodically between total abstinence and substance use.

Temple (Body as)

A concept within Christian recovery of the body as a temple of God and the destruction of that temple with alcohol or drugs as a violation of that temple.

Therapeutic Community

A highly structured drug-free environment that most often involves longer-term residential treatment and is based on mutual support principles. A therapeutic community incorporates behavior modification techniques, education or vocational training, and residential job duties. This approach aims to re-socialize the resident to a substance-free, crime-free lifestyle through peer influence, personal responsibility, honest communication, healthy living and skill training.

Therapeutic Dependence

When patients have healed sufficiently to cease taking pain medication but continue claiming issues in order to continue receiving their regular dosages. Often they fear withdrawal symptoms too.


The gradual increase in the administered quantity of the drug.


A product prepared from the leaves of the tobacco plant, a South American herb, by curing them. Tobacco is used in the production of cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, etc., and tobacco products often have addictive properties.


A condition in which higher doses of a drug are required to produce an effect of the same intensity achieved during initial use, which often leads to dependence.


The degree to which a substance is poisonous or harmful.


In the context of Twelve Step recovery organizations, the set of principles by which group life is governed. For example, the principle of anonymity, of accepting powerlessness over one’s substance use, or the belief in a power greater than oneself as a source of change and hope.


A calming class of drugs typically prescribed to induce sleep, reduce anxiety or symptoms of psychosis, including benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other types of central nervous system depressants.


The emotions, biases, or preconceived notions that the client with co-occurring disorders may project onto the clinician due to past experiences.


A deeply disturbing experience; a physical or emotional injury.


The process of addressing and seeking to change maladaptive behaviors such as substance addiction. Treatment typically includes medical, therapeutic, and psychiatric intervention and takes time to have an effect. Many different approaches to and methods of treatment are available.

Treatment retention

Maintining client involvement in treatment activities and partaking of services.

Trial moderation

A strategy used by people who do not seek total abstinence but instead healthy moderation of substance use, involving an experimental test period in which the substance is used within prescribed guidelines of frequency, quantity, and context.


An incentive, whether conscious or unconscious, that drives an addicted individual to use their drug of choice.


A slang term for drugs that have a stimulating effect on the central nervous system and induce a sense of euphoria, such as amphetamines and cocaine.


A sudden, unpredictable intensifying of addiction cravings, usually involving temporary mental unawareness (ie. not realizing how many drinks one has had).

Urge-peak cycle

A pattern of ongoing urge-peaks followed by relapse.


A desire that can be suppressed by willpower.


A test used to analyze urine for the residual presence of psychoactive substances. Because urination removes toxins and excess fluid, urinalysis can provide important clues about health.


“Unconditional Self Acceptance”


“Vital Absorbing Creative Interest”

Virtual recovery

Recovery enhanced and maintained through Internet support groups, with little to no face-to-face participation in treatment programs or meetings.


A term coined by Don Coyhis (1999) that depicts recovery as not only a cessation of symptoms, but the pursuit or achievement of “whole health”, ie. physical, emotional, intellectual, relational, and spiritual well-being.

Widmark calculation

Another term for Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)


Symtoms exhibited by an addicted person when their usual dosage is either abruptly discontinued or dramatically reduced. Withdrawal symptoms can be either physical, such as nausea and vomiting; or psychological, such as depression, anxiety, and agitation. The experience of withdrawal often leads addicted parties to use the substance again, and withdrawal is best induced under close medical supervision.

Witness (testify, testimony)

The telling of one’s addiction/recovery story as an act of service toward an individual, community, or culture.

Wounded healers

In the addiction recovery sphere, people who have survived life-threating and transformative experiences such as drug addiction, who use their experiential knowledge to guide others through the same experience.

Wrap-around services

Non-clinical services in connection with addiction recovery programs that facilitate patient engagement and retention in treatment, as well as assist in ongoing recovery, that connect patients with services related to transportation, employment, childcare, housing, and legal/financial aid.

Xanax ®

A brand of alprazolam, a drug prescribed to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures.


Visual hallucinations of animals (e.g. snakes, insects), as a symptom of delirium tremens or other substance-induced hallucinatory states.

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