The language of addiction

The language of addiction

Going in to treatment for an addiction can be a frightening, embarrassing, and frustrating process. One thing it does not have to be, however, is confusing. Most things that will happen should be clearly laid out and explained, some even before a person checks in to a treatment facility. There will be a lot of language thrown out there, that may or may not be familiar, and these words will be used frequently in treatment. Here’s some common terms and meaning in the language of addiction.

An addict is someone who is physically and/or psychologically addicted to a substance. With most substances the body eventually physically needs the substances to function “normally”. In cases where the body does not develop a physical need, the habit can become psychologically addicting. There are diagnostic criteria that need to be met for someone to be termed an addict.

Recovery is an important term. It is the time after a person has stopped using, and they are focusing on getting healthy again, changing unhelpful habits, and working to better themselves.

Relapse is when a person who has decided to stop using, but starts using again. There are often warning signs of relapse, actions, feelings, or events that often precede a person using again.

Triggers are the things, sometimes events or feelings, that put a person in recovery in danger of relapse. For example, going to a bar is often a trigger to someone with an alcohol addiction.

Enabling, or an enabler, are common terms used in substance abuse treatment. In an addict’s life, there are often people around that intentionally or unintentionally help the addict continue using. This is called enabling. An example would be a wife calling her husband’s work saying he is sick, when in reality he is still drunk. The wife would be considered enabling his bad behavior.

These are just some of the more common terms that a person may hear when in treatment for an addiction. If ever there is a term you or someone you love hears while in treatment, that you do not understand, please always ask for a simple explanation. The more you know, the more likely treatment and recovery will be successful.

College of Allied Educators offers our Advanced Diploma in Counselling Psychology programme, training you  to help yourself and others towards a happier life by breaking away from destructive habits and thoughts and developing new, more beneficial ones.

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