Addiction Treatment: Terms & Definitions

Information about addiction and recovery is riddled with specific substance use terminology, acronyms, and abbreviations. Our goal is to help you discover your options and navigate words and phrases you are likely to come across as you learn more about substance abuse.

Addiction and Dependence Terms

What is addiction?

Addiction is a disorder that is characterized by compulsive use of a drug despite the unwanted, sometimes destructive consequences of such use. Left unmanaged, the disorder often follows a chronic, progressive, and relapsing course; its development is thought to be accompanied by long-term changes in the brain.1

What is a substance use disorder (SUD)?

An SUD is a mental disorder that is diagnosed using a set of criteria that assess to what degree a person’s drug or alcohol use is causing problems in areas such as their physical health, mental health, or social functioning. An SUD can range in severity.2 A substance use disorder is very often referred to simply as an addiction.

What is substance tolerance?

Tolerance reflects a growing need for more of a drug to produce the wanted effect(s).1

What is dependence?

Distinct from but a common element of many addictions, dependence is the body’s adaption to a drug such that it goes through withdrawal when the use of the drug slows or stops.1

What is drug withdrawal?

Substance withdrawal involves a set of symptoms that arise once a drug- or alcohol-dependent person significantly reduces their dose or quits using the drug altogether. Depending on the drug or drugs, symptoms may range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening.1,3

Addiction Treatment & Recovery Terms

What does recovery mean?

Recovery is the long-term process of change wherein people learn to improve their health and take back control of their lives from addiction.1 People in recovery from a substance use disorder commonly experience one or more relapses back to drug use and may benefit from multiple attempts at treatment.4

What is individualized treatment?

This means that your individual treatment plan is created with your history and your needs in mind. Many treatment centers will closely monitor your progress and adjust your plan as needed to best promote recovery.

What is specialized treatment?

This is treatment tailored specifically to individual patient interests or a specific type of patient. At Greenhouse, we offer several specialized programs including those for:

What does evidence-based treatment mean?

Evidence-based treatment simply refers to the judicious use of best practices when treating the patient. Evidence-based therapies are those that are backed by research supporting their treatment efficacy.5

Levels of Addiction Treatment

What is medical detox?

Detoxification is the process wherein drugs and/or alcohol leave the body. During detox, withdrawal symptoms may arise, some of which will be more severe than others. Medical detox is a form of treatment where medical supervision and sometimes medications are utilized during withdrawal to keep the patient safe and as comfortable as possible.

Certain substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids, are associated with more severe withdrawal syndromes than others. Those detoxing from them are often advised to seek medical detox for appropriate withdrawal management.

What is inpatient rehab?

Greenhouse treatment facilityInpatient rehab is one of the more intensive forms of substance rehabilitation; it refers to live-in substance abuse treatment where there may be close supervision and care from doctors or nurses for medical and/or psychiatric issues.

What is residential rehab?

This is very similar to inpatient rehab. (The terms are often used interchangeably). However, some residential programs may not have the medical focus that inpatient or intensive, hospital-based rehabs do.

Days are usually structured around group or individual therapy, drug education classes, skills training, and personal reflection time. The time a person spends in a residential rehab will vary. Programs can last anywhere from several days or weeks to months.

What is a partial hospitalization program (PHP)? Is it outpatient?

PHPs are outpatient programs, but they do involve an intensive amount of weekly treatment (3–7 days per week of treatment in blocks of 6–8 hours each).

What is an intensive outpatient program (IOP)?

Intensive outpatient programs are relatively less time-demanding (compared with PHPs) but still provide a good deal of support (3–7 days of treatment per week in 3-hour blocks).

What is standard outpatient therapy?

This form of treatment involves weekly therapy visits and often serves as a step-down treatment for those who’ve completed a more intensive level of care.

Treatment Approaches & Therapies

What is psychoeducation?

Psychoeducation helps provide patients a better framework of understanding for both their substance use disorder and recovery. It prescribes methods of coping with various recovery challenges such as cravings and social pressures for continued use. It also helps people evaluate the impact of their SUD on friends and loved ones, so that they may better navigate their newly-sober relationship within that network moving forward.6

What are common types of therapy for drug addiction?

The following evidence-based therapies are commonly used in the realm of addiction treatment:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This common form of psychotherapy focuses on the connection between how we feel, think, and behave. Working to adjust negative thoughts and behaviors can bring about positive change.7
  • Dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT): This form of therapy is similar to CBT but focuses on the patient achieving two opposing goals: acceptance and change.8
  • Motivational interviewing: In this approach, a therapist helps the patient enhance their motivation to change. Essentially, the therapist helps them resolve any feelings of ambivalence toward treatment and “talk themselves into changing.”9
  • Contingency management: This therapeutic approach uses small incentives/rewards to reinforce positive change.1
  • Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT): Here, the therapist uses a variety of tools and problem-solving techniques, such as “disputing,” to help change a patient’s harmful and/or irrational thoughts or emotions and to create more positive behaviors.10

What are common trauma therapy techniques?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): This type of therapy is used to help patients process distressing emotions and thoughts related to trauma.11

Seeking Safety: This therapy type was designed for those dealing with trauma and substance abuse and treats safety as the main goal. A focus of this approach is integrated substance abuse and trauma treatment.12

What is family therapy?

Family therapy was designed with the understanding that a family is an ecosystem; when one person suffers from an addiction, everyone else in the family unit is impacted. Family therapy helps bring about healing and restore the balance in the family ecosystem by helping all family members make positive changes as the recovering person does the same.13

What is group therapy?

Group therapy takes several forms, and the goals are different based on the type of group. There may be process groups, where individuals process past events in the context of the group. There may be cognitive-behavioral therapy groups where clients learn to rearrange thoughts and behaviors in a group setting. There are also skills groups and education classes.14

Inpatient and residential rehabilitation programs often use more than one of these group types to help patients achieve lasting change and also garner the support of others and offer their support back.

Groups are often especially helpful for those who have been living in addiction because they help to resolve isolation, depression, and shame.14

What are holistic therapies?

Holistic treatment means treatment of the whole person. Holistic treatment often combines Western medicine with complementary treatments such as:

  • Mindfulness and meditation.
  • Yoga.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Art therapy.
  • Music therapy.
  • Biofeedback therapy.

What is biofeedback therapy?

Biofeedback helps you learn to control some physical processes, like your heart rate. By making subtle changes in your body, you may be able to improve your physical or mental health.15

What is medication-assisted treatment (MAT)?

MAT uses a combination of behavioral therapy with certain medications to treat substance use disorders.16

Medications for opioid use disorder include:16

  • Methadone.
  • Naltrexone.
  • Buprenorphine.

Medications for alcohol use disorder include:16

  • Acamprosate.
  • Disulfiram.
  • Naltrexone.

What is pharmacotherapy?

Treatment approaches that utilize medications.1

What is pharmacogenetics?

The study of the way that a person’s genes influence how they respond to certain drugs.17

Addiction Recovery Support Groups

What is 12-Step facilitation therapy?

12-Step facilitation is a therapeutic approach that works toward promoting a patient’s engagement with 12-Step programs.18

What are 12-Step programs?

12-Step programs teach and foster the practice of the 12 steps believed to support long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol.19  The 12 steps have been adapted for other addictions as well, including gambling and sex.

In 12-Step programs, members are encouraged to find another member to be a sponsor who can support them and provide guidance in times of crisis.19

While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most well-known 12-Step program, there are numerous other programs based on the 12-Step philosophy. They include:

  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
  • Codependents Anonymous (CODA).
  • Al-Anon.
  • Nar-Anon.
  • Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA).
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA).

The 12-Step programs incorporate the concept of a higher power, which is up to the individual member’s interpretation.19

What is SMART Recovery?

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) is a secular, science-based alternative to 12-Step programs. SMART focuses on teaching coping methods that can help members achieve and sustain sobriety.20

SMART Recovery is based around 4 points:20

  1. Building and keeping the motivation to change.
  2. Coping with the urge to use drugs or alcohol.
  3. Managing feelings, thoughts and behaviors without drugs or alcohol.
  4. Living a healthy, balanced, and positive life.

What are virtual support meetings?

There are meetings that take place online. American Addiction Centers offers weekly virtual meetings.

Post-Treatment Terms

What is aftercare?

Aftercare, or continuing care, is the stage of ongoing recovery efforts that follow the completion of a more intensive or structured treatment program. For example, aftercare may mean outpatient therapy or sober living after the completion of inpatient rehab.
An aftercare plan can help to prevent relapse.

What is a relapse?

A relapse is a return to drug or alcohol use after a period of sobriety. Because addiction is known to be a chronic and relapsing disorder, relapse is common in recovery.21

What does sober living mean?

Resolutions Arlington poolSober living refers to residences for recovering individuals that are drug- and alcohol-free. Sober living homes offer a safe place for those coming out of treatment who are not yet comfortable returning to their home environment and who need extra support in recovery.

What are programs for alumni in recovery?

Alumni programs are the programs aimed at supporting patient alumni after they’ve completed treatment. At Greenhouse Treatment Center, the alumni program includes weekly meetings around the area.

Insurance & Payment Terms

What is a copayment?

A copayment, or copay, is a set amount for a covered healthcare service, negotiated between the health insurance company and provider. A patient may owe a copayment once they have met their deductible. Copays are usually due at the time of service.22

What is coinsurance?

Coinsurance is a term that describes the ratio of responsibility for a covered healthcare service. For example, if an insurance plan’s coinsurance is 20%, the patient pays 20% percent of the cost, while insurance pays the remaining 80%. Coinsurance kicks in once a person’s deductible has been met.22

What is a deductible?

A deductible is the amount a patient is required to pay before their health insurance kicks in. For example, if a plan has a $500 deductible, a person must spend $500 in covered services in a calendar year, before insurance starts to contribute or reimburse the cost.22

Plans with lower annual deductibles usually have higher monthly premiums and vice versa. Plans with lower monthly premiums may have higher annual deductibles.

What is in-network?

When a doctor or medical office is “in-network,” it is contracted with your health insurer to provide services. Typically, they are contracted to offer these services at a reduced fee. Many health insurance plans require a provider to be in their network to qualify for insurance coverage.22

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a state-based insurance program that provides free or low-cost healthcare coverage to qualified individuals. Eligibility requirements vary and are often determined by income level. Other individuals who may qualify include families and children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with disabilities.22

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal program that provides free and supplemental healthcare to Americans age 65 and up, as well certain younger people with disabilities and people with permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant.22

What is out of network?

When a provider is out of network, that means they are not contracted with your health insurance plan to provide medical services. Out-of-network visits and procedures will generally cost more and, depending on your specific plan, may not be covered by insurance.22

What is out of pocket?

The term out of pocket describes the amount a patient may be personally responsible for, as opposed to the amount insurance will pay. A patient can incur various out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.22

Most health insurance plans also have an out-of-pocket maximum or limit, which is the total amount a patient will be required to pay for medical services in a year. This includes deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Once an out-of-pocket maximum is met, insurance will cover 100% of the remaining covered costs.22

What is a premium?

A premium is the amount an individual pays for health insurance every month. In addition to monthly premiums, patients will likely incur other costs, such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Generally, a plan with a higher monthly premium will have a lower annual deductible and vice versa.22

Learn more about using health insurance to pay for addiction treatment.

Accreditation & Licensing Terms

What is CARF?

CARF is an acronym for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities, an independent nonprofit accreditor of health and human services. These services include addiction treatment centers, retirement homes, and more.

CARF-accredited programs are held to the highest standards in healthcare and have demonstrated a commitment to providing efficient and effective medical services and to “enhancing the lives of persons served.”23

At Greenhouse Treatment Center in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, we are proud to be a part of CARF’s internationally recognized family.

What is a chemical dependency treatment facility?

In Texas, a chemical dependency treatment facility is any hospital or rehab center that provides addiction treatment. The state’s Health and Human Services Commission requires all such facilities to be licensed and is responsible for determining licensing criteria, procedures, fees, etc.24

Greenhouse Treatment Center is a licensed chemical dependency treatment facility in the state of Texas.

What is the Joint Commission?

The Joint Commission was founded in 1951 and serves as the country’s oldest and largest accrediting organization in healthcare. As an independent, not-for-profit entity, the Joint Commission works to improve healthcare standards and procedures and to ensure patient safety and satisfaction.25

Patient Privacy

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was created to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the nation’s healthcare system. The HIPAA Privacy Rule regulates the use and disclosure of a person’s health information, and allows patients to control how that information is disclosed and used.26

In general, privacy rule guidelines ensure medical providers, offices, insurers, and others do not view or share a patient’s health records without their prior consent or knowledge. HIPAA’s standards are strictly enforced by the U.S. Department Health and Human Services.

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