Understanding the language behind addiction

Understanding the language behind addiction

Going for treatment for an addiction can be a frightening, embarrassing, and frustrating process. One thing it does not have to be, however, is confusing. Most things that will happen should be clearly laid out and explained, some even before a person checks in to a treatment facility. There will be a lot of language thrown out there, that may or may not be familiar, and these words will be used frequently in treatment. Here’s some common terms and meaning in the language of addiction.

An addict is someone who is physically and/or psychologically addicted to a substance. With most substances the body eventually physically needs the substances to function “normally”. In cases where the body does not develop a physical need, the habit can become psychologically addicting. There are diagnostic criteria that need to be met for someone to be termed an addict.

Recovery is an important term. It is the time after a person has stopped using, and they are focusing on getting healthy again, changing unhelpful habits, and working to better themselves.

Relapse is when a person who has decided to stop using, but starts using again. There are often warning signs of relapse, actions, feelings, or events that often precede a person using again.

Triggers are the things, sometimes events or feelings, that put a person in recovery in danger of relapse. For example, going to a bar is often a trigger to someone with an alcohol addiction.

Enabling, or an enabler, are common terms used in substance abuse treatment. In an addict’s life, there are often people around that intentionally or unintentionally help the addict continue using. This is called enabling. An example would be a wife calling her husband’s work saying he is sick, when in reality he is still drunk. The wife would be considered enabling his bad behaviour.

These are just some of the more common terms that a person may hear when in treatment for an addiction. If ever there is a term you or someone you love hears while in treatment, that you do not understand, please always ask for a simple explanation. The more you know, the more likely treatment and recovery will be successful.

College of Allied Educators offers our Advanced Diploma in Counselling Psychology programme, training you  to help yourself and others towards a happier life by breaking away from destructive habits and developing new, more beneficial ones.

Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology (PGDICP) is a counselling psychology course recognised by the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC). The part-time Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology programme focuses on developing and enhancing experiential knowledge and skills through a holistic approach. Some of the subjects covered include Counselling Children, Addiction Intervention, Crisis Intervention, and Family Therapy.  

Advanced Diploma in Counselling Psychology (ADICP) trains students to apply appropriate counselling skills in different situations while understanding their underlying theories. The ADICP programme introduces students to the nature of psychology and relates it to the theories and concepts of counselling. Students move on to explore themselves in order to promote personal growth and self-awareness, acquiring the key attributes of a competent counsellor and the proper methods of applying those skills.

Diploma in Counselling Psychology (DCPSY) is a counselling course covering a range of conceptual and functional skills in counselling. It trains students to apply appropriate counselling psychology skills in different situations, and equips students with the ability to work effectively as a counsellor.


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