Glossary of Addiction Terms

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The act of refraining from using any mind or body-altering substance, legally, or illegally.

Individuals with an addictive disorder.

A repeated activity that continuously causes harm to oneself or others.

Addictive Personality
An addictive personality refers to a hypothesized set of personality traits that make an individual predisposed to developing addictions—source: Wikipedia.

Adverse reaction
A dangerous and unexpected reaction to a drug or medicine.

Age at onset
The age at which a person develops or acquires or experiences a condition or symptom of a disease such as addiction.

Agonist/partial agonist
A drug that binds to and activates a receptor. A partial agonist has lower efficacy than a full agonist. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international mutual aid fellowship of alcoholics dedicated to abstinence-based recovery from alcoholism through its spiritually-inclined Twelve Step program. Following its Twelve Traditions, AA is non-professional, non-denominational, apolitical, and unaffiliated. Source: Wikipedia

A stimulant that can be used to treat symptoms of ADHD, however, can be highly addictive and easily abused.

A class of drugs that are designed to relieve pain without causing the loss of consciousness.

A drug that acts against and blocks an action. An antagonist is the opposite of an agonist. Narcan “the overdose revival drug” is an antagonist.

This stands for Alcohol or Drugs.

A professional evaluation of a person’s overall medical history, substance use history, current health status, and physical and mental health. This is intended to give a professional a better insight into creating a treatment plan for a patient. This should only be performed by a qualified healthcare professional. BrightView also refers to an assessment as a patient’s “Day 1 or intake”.


A partial agonist, it is a prescription medicine used to treat people who are addicted to (dependent on) opioid drugs (either prescription or illegal) as part of a complete treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy. Suboxone is buprenorphine and naloxone and is sold under the brand name Subutex, among others. BrightView has the ability to prescribe Buprenorphine and Buprenorphine products.


Case management
Case Managers provide case management, assessment, and treatment planning services to patients with Substance Use Disorders. Case management services are those activities provided to assist and support individuals in gaining access to needed medical, social, educational, and other services essential to meeting basic human needs. Every patient at BrightView is assigned a case manager upon their initial visit.

Ceiling effect
The phenomenon in which a drug reaches a maximum effect so that increasing the dosage does not increase its effectiveness.

Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS)
The Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) is an 11-item scale designed to be administered by a clinician. This tool can be used in both inpatient and outpatient settings to consistently rate common signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal and monitor these symptoms over time.

A pain-relieving sedative agent contained in opium.

Cold Turkey
Abruptly quitting a drug by choice and without assistance in order to try to quit long-term.

A physical behavior repeated involuntarily that causes harm.

A conservatorship is a court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances. (source: California Court).

People who have substance use disorders, as well as mental health disorders, are diagnosed as having co-occurring disorders, or dual disorders. This is also sometimes called a dual diagnosis.

A strong desire to use a substance or an addictive agent. BrightView educates patients on how to identify cravings and triggers, and how to successfully respond to these feelings.


The literal term is removing toxins from one’s body, or a period of time in which one abstains from unhealthy substances. Processes of detox differ depending on the substance a person is attempting to detox from.

Depression (also called a major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. Source: National Institute of Mental Health.

Diagnostic evaluation
A process in which a professional uses a set of criteria to assess whether someone exhibits signs of addiction. Symptoms that fall under that particular classification should be present for a professional to diagnose someone with a particular disorder. BrightView follows the DMS-5, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to diagnose substance abuse disorder or SUD.

This stands for a person’s “Drug of Choice”, which is/are the drug/drugs (or alcohol) that a person is currently struggling with in their addiction.

Considered a “feel good” neurotransmitter, the chemical that boosts mood, motivation, and attention, and also helps regulate movement, learning, and emotional responses.

Dual Diagnosis
This refers to someone who has been diagnosed with more than one substance addiction. For example, it is not uncommon for someone to be seeking treatment for more than one addiction, frequently, a patient at BrightView might disclose that they are addicted to heroin as well as cocaine, meaning they have a dual diagnosis.

Driving under the influence is the offense of driving, operating, or being in control of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs, to a level that renders the driver incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely. Source: Wikipedia.


The principal ingredient in alcohol.


Inpatient treatment
Inpatient care generally refers to any medical service that requires admission into a hospital or a treatment center, where a patient stays overnight.

It often involves a group of individuals, usually loved ones or close friends, who are ready to confront a person with addiction in an effort to persuade them to seek professional help for their substance abuse.

Administered through the nasal passage.


Levels of care
BrightView offers the following levels of care: Intensive Outpatient and Outpatient.

Lockdown Rehabilitation
A form of rehabilitation where the will of the person being attended is not required to participate in the program. Learn more

LPS Conservatorship
An LPS conservatorship gives legal authority to one adult (called a conservator) to make certain decisions for a seriously mentally ill person (called a conservatee) who is unable to take care of him/herself.


Maintenance Medications
Medications are prescribed for chronic, long? term conditions and are taken on a regular, recurring basis. One maintenance medication that BrightView offers is Buprenorphine.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
The FDA defines medication-assisted treatment or MAT as the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, which is effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD) and can help some people to sustain recovery.

Mental Health
Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder.

The most common medical use for methadone is as a legal substitute for heroin in treatment programs for drug addiction, it is also considered a synthetic opiate. . BrightView does not offer methadone, instead BrightView offers many other alternatives or substitutes similar to methadone.

According to, Methamphetamine – meth for short – is a very addictive stimulant drug. It is a powder that can be made into a pill or a shiny rock (called a crystal). The powder can be eaten or snorted up the nose. It can also be mixed with liquid and injected into your body with a needle. Crystal meth is smoked in a small glass pipe.


Narcan (naloxone) is an opioid antagonist used for the complete or partial reversal of opioid overdose, including respiratory depression.

See Naloxone.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Narcotics Anonymous, founded in 1953, describes itself as a “nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem.” Narcotics Anonymous uses a 12-step model developed for people with varied substance use disorders and is the second-largest 12-step organization. Source: Wikipedia


Outpatient treatment
BrightView offers outpatient treatment, which does not require the patient to stay overnight.


Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
According to American Addictions Centers, The term PAWS was created to describe the cluster of ongoing withdrawal symptoms, which are largely psychological and mood-related, that can continue after acute withdrawal symptoms have gone away. Although post-acute withdrawal rarely involves aches and pains, nausea, cramping, headaches, or other physical symptoms, it can be just as intense as acute withdrawal and still puts a person at risk of relapse, as they may return to drug use in an attempt to stop the discomfort.

Pink Cloud
This is similar to what one would call a honeymoon phase for newlyweds. Pink clouding, or pink cloud syndrome, is a stage in early addiction recovery that gives a person a false sense of euphoria and confidence. According to, being on a pink cloud can sometimes mean a detachment from reality: people become preoccupied with the good feelings and forget about the journey in front of them. The pink cloud can also be seen as a kind of natural high and defense mechanism, which helps people ignore all the familial, financial, and legal issues that they have to deal with.

An example of a placebo is in a controlled clinical trial, one group may be given a real medication while another group is given a placebo that looks just like it in order to learn if the differences observed are due to the medication or to the power of suggestion. Placebos are widely used in drug trials.

Precipitated withdrawal syndrome
It is a rapid and intense onset of withdrawal symptoms initiated by medication as part of addiction treatment.


The probability of a person “re-offend” or relapsing, using drugs or alcohol when attempting to stay sober.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “people recovering from addiction often have one or more relapses along the way.” Relapse is when an addict returns to alcohol or drugs after a period of sobriety. A relapse can be a detrimental and deadly affair with devastating consequences.

Route of Administration
The path by which a drug, fluid, or other substance is taken into the body. For example, intranasal (through the nose), and oral (through the mouth).


A chemical, most commonly found in the brain, that contributes to well-being and happiness.

A powerful, negative perception is commonly associated with substance abuse. A negative connotation and/or assumption one might have against someone else for their lifestyle choice. The “stigma of addiction” is one that BrightView tries to eradicate every single day.

Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Brand names include Bunavail, Suboxone, and Zubsolv.

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
The medically appropriate way to refer to someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. A person with SUD is considered a person first, with appropriate language.


External or internal cues cause a person in recovery to crave drugs and perhaps even relapse.

A person’s reaction to a drug decreases as they continue to use it, which means that they might need more and more to get the feeling they initially felt when they first used that particular drug, this is also known as “chasing the high”.


The abrupt quitting of a substance a person is addicted to

Withdrawal/withdrawal symptoms
Cognitive and physical symptoms that occur after chronic use of a drug are decreased abruptly or stopped among people who have developed a tolerance to a drug. Symptoms vary based on the drug being stopped. Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person, with the most common symptoms being compared to having a very bad case of the flu often with chills, body aches, diarrhea, nausea, and restless legs.