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For most of us, dealing with drug problems and recovery is just something that never crossed our minds. Recovery involves more than a few days of detox or even rehab for that matter. Staying clean and sober requires a life-long commitment and consistent support from friends and family increases the success rate. The more we know and understand the disease of addiction and recovery, the better equipped we are to help ourselves and our loved ones.
Here are just a few terms that you might encounter:
Craving - a person will feel a strong need, desire, or urge to use alcohol or drugs, will use alcohol or a drug despite negative consequences, and will feel anxious and irritable if he or she can't use them. Craving is a primary symptom of addiction.
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.
Follow-up 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/three-quarter 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; 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 treatment that focuses on behavioral change and personal responsibility in all areas of a person's life, not just substance use.
Tolerance - a person will need increasingly larger amounts of alcohol or drugs to get high.
Treatment plan - A plan that provides a blueprint for treatment. It describes the problems being addressed, the treatments 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.
Withdrawal symptoms - In some cases, when alcohol or drug use is stopped, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms from a physical need for the substance. Physical withdrawal symptoms differ depending on the drug, but they may include nausea, sweating, shakiness, and extreme anxiety. The person may try to relieve these symptoms by taking either more of the same or a similar substance.

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