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Definition of words used in treatment centers, rehab, and recovery of alcoholics and addicts







  • "What is rehab?"
  • "What is substance abuse?"
  • "Drug rehab? Alcohol rehab?"
  • "What is alcohol addiction?"
  • "What is drug addiction?"
  • "What is a Treament Center?"

I'm often asked by the parents of teenagers and other family members who want to know what we mean by some of the terms that they hear or read while searching for information and solutions to help treat drug and substance abuse problems that afflict their loved ones.

To help answer some of those questions and hopefully to assist in a better understanding of the terms that we often use in regards to rehab, addictions, substance abuse and recovery, the following information is provided as a glossary of the terms -- in laymen's language.

This is a new section for this website and we will be adding more to it regularly.

Glossary of rehabilitation and treatment terms

REHAB: Just a shortened word for rehabilitation, as used in alcoholic, alcoholism, and drug addiction rehabilitation.

ALCOHOL REHAB The process of restoring an individual (such as an alcoholic, substance abuser or drug addict) to a useful and constructive place in society especially through some form of vocational, correctional, or therapeutic measures and reeducation to participation in the activities of a normal life within the limitations of the person's disability.

DRUG REHAB The process of restoring an individual (such as an alcoholic, substance abuser or drug addict) to a useful and constructive place in society especially through some form of vocational, correctional, or therapeutic measures and reeducation to participation in the activities of a normal life within the limitations of the person's disability.

DENIAL The thought process in which a person does not believe he or she has a problem, despite strong evidence to the contrary. It is a way of protecting oneself from painful thoughts or feelings.

DETOXIFICATION (OR "DETOX") A process that helps the body rid itself of substances while the symptoms of withdrawal are treated. It is often a first step in a substance abuse treatment program.

FOLLOWUP CARE Also called continuing care. Treatment that is prescribed after completion of inpatient or outpatient treatment. It can be participation in individual or group counseling, regular contact with a counselor, or other activities designed to help people stay in recovery.

HALFWAY HOUSE / SOBER HOUSE A place to live for people recovering from substance use disorders. Usually several people in recovery live together with limited or no supervision by a counselor.

INPATIENT TREATMENT Treatment in a setting that is connected to a hospital or a hospital-type setting where a person stays for a few days or weeks.

OUTPATIENT TREATMENT Treatment provided at a facility. The services vary but do not include overnight accommodation. Sometimes it is prescribed after inpatient treatment.

RELAPSE A recurrence of symptoms of a disease after a period of improvement; that is, a person in recovery drinks or uses drugs again after a period of abstinence.

RELAPSE PREVENTION Any strategy or activity that helps keep a person in recovery from drinking alcohol or using drugs again. It may include developing new coping responses; changing beliefs and expectations; and changing personal habits, lifestyles, and schedules.

RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT Treatment in a setting in which both staff and peers can help with treatment. It provides more structure and more intensive services than outpatient treatment. Participants live in the treatment facility.

Residential treatment is long term, typically lasting from 1 month to more than 1 year.

SELF-HELP / 12-STEP GROUPS Support groups consisting of people in recovery that offer a safe place where recovering people share their experiences, strengths, and hopes.

AA’s 12 Steps help the members recover from addiction, addictive behavior, and emotional suffering. These groups are free and are not supported by any particular treatment program.

SUPPORTIVE LIVING Also called transitional apartments. A setting in which the skills and attitudes needed for independent living can be learned, practiced, and supported. It provides a bridge between supervised care and independent living.

THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITY Long-term residential treatment that focuses on behavioral change and personal responsibility in all areas of a person’s life, not just substance use.

TREATMENT PLAN A plan that provides a blueprint for treatment. It describes the problems being addressed, the treatment’s goals, and the specific steps that both the treatment professionals and the person in treatment will take.

TREATMENT TEAM A team of professionals (e.g., clinical supervisor, counselor, therapist, and physician) responsible for treating a person and helping his or her family.

TRIGGER Any event, place, thing, smell, idea, emotion, or person that sets off a craving to drink alcohol or use drugs.

--End of definitions --


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Alcohol Addiction Treatment and Recovery Support