Glossary

Abuse (of Alcohol, Drugs, Substance). Continued use of a substance in spite of recurrent social, occupational, psychological or physical problems caused by it. For example, repeated binge drinking causing missed school, driving while intoxicated, etc.

Addiction. A primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestation.  The disease is often progressive and fatal.  It is characterized by continuous or periodic impaired control over drinking or drug use, preoccupation with use despite adverse consequences; use in larger amounts to achieve the desired effect – or in time actually achieving a diminished effect; and continued use in spite the recurrent social, psychological or physical problems it causes.

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon – Al-Anon is a twelve-step program that was developed in 1951 to facilitate the recovery of family members and friends of alcoholics. It also includes Alateen, a similar program for younger members, between the ages of 12-20. Nar-Anon includes a twelve-step program designed to help relatives and friends of addicts recover from the effects of living with an addicted relative or friend. All are modeled on the 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous.

Alcoholism – a progressive disease of compulsive drinking that interferes with one’s normal life. It affects a person spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically, and it impacts everyone who has contact with the alcoholic. Total abstinence from drinking is the only way to arrest the disease.

Blackout– “Blacking out” is commonly confused with passing out. Alcohol interferes with the ability to form new memories. A blackout is an alcohol induced period of amnesia during which the person is awake and active but the brain is unable to form new memories for what has happened. The person is not able to remember what has gone on when they are no longer intoxicated. It is possible for a person to be in a blackout and appear to be only moderately intoxicated to the outside world. “Passing out” means a person has drunk alcohol until he/she is unconscious.

Clean and Sober – A combination of abstinence and working in the recovery process.

Codependence – Perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors of those affected by a loved-one’s addiction.  Rather than dealing with the situation, co-dependents try to take away the dependent’s pain or negative consequences, covering for them, and thus allowing the destructive behavior to continue. They learn to do those things that bring the approval or acceptance of the dependent person, making caring for that person’s perceived needs their priority.

Crack – the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking. It is a strong central nervous system stimulant, and there is great risk for dependency when cocaine is smoked because extremely high doses reach the brain very quickly and bring an intense and immediate high. Smoking crack cocaine can produce aggressive paranoid behavior in users.

Denial – A defense mechanism which is used to disguise and ignore feelings or situations that might prove painful, resulting in an inability to see a problem for what it really is, even when faced with facts.   A primary characteristic of addiction, denial distorts reality and results in one not feeling the negative consequences of his/her actions, thus allowing the perception that it is alright to continue the same behaviors.  Denial can also occur in families, organizations, churches, communities, etc.

Dependence. See addiction.

Drug – any chemical substance (including alchohol) which alters mood, perception, or consciousness.

Dry Drunk – an abstinent addict who is not engaged in the recovery process, therefore continues to exhibit behaviors such as grandiosity, intolerance, anger, impulsivity, dishonesty, and indecisiveness.

Enabler. One who tries to “help” the addicted person in such a way that it actually allows him or her to avoid the consequences of addictive behavior and continue to use.  Enablers can be family, friends, employers, attorneys, etc.

Intervention – a well-planned, organized effort led by a professional interventionist during which the loved ones of an addict make a methodical attempt to change the lifestyle of the addict by (1) affirming their caring and concern, (2) calling attention to the destructive behaviors and suffering he/she is causing, and (3) petitioning him/her to accept treatment.

Meth or Methamphetamine – an addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain, is made in illegal laboratories, and has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Methamphetamine damages certain brain cells, and over time, abuse can result in symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, a severe movement disorder.

Open Meetings – Open 12-Step that anyone can attend whether they have a problem with alcohol and drugs or not. A closed meeting is limited to those recovering from drugs or alcohol only.

Prevention – Stopping drug use before it starts, intervening to halt the progression of use once it has begun, or changing environmental conditions that encourage use.

Process Addiction. Addiction to gambling, sex, shopping, or other activity that provides relief/pleasure while at the same time erodes life.

Recovery – the process during which one stops the use of destructive substances, overcomes the related compulsive behaviors, and creates a new personal life within a supportive social environment.  Regular participation in a 12-step program, a support group, sponsorship relationships, and service are integral parts of the recovery process.

Relapse – a return to use of alcohol or drugs following a significant period of abstinence or recovery.

12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous – the treatment method used by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Similar versions are used in many treatment facilities. The 12 steps of AA are:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.

  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Withdrawal  – Physical, mental, and emotional symptoms in the body and brain that occur after stopping the use of a drug that one has become physically dependent upon.