Apr 18

Addiction to Remission: Recovery Terminology to Know about Drugs and Alcohol

When working on your substance use issues, you’ll encounter some recovery terminology you may not know yet. A lot of the terms sound similar but have quite different meanings. Read on to learn more about what industry professionals mean when they use them, and how they apply to your journey. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) is one of the resources used to compile this list of terminology. It is an authority in the world of addiction medicine, and also acknowledges that terminology is always changing, so is a good current frame of reference.


Addiction Treatment in Canada - Vancouver and Victoria, BCASAM’s short definition of addiction is: “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” Not everyone subscribes to the concept of addiction being a disease, however the physical impact on the brain is often very real. Our brains can be rewired many times over, and addiction is a very capable electrician. It is also important to note here that certain characteristics must be present to confirm a true addiction. A quick test is the Three C’s, compulsion, control, and consequences. Compulsion is the obsessive behaviour preceding using (i.e. daydreaming about next use). Control is what happens after using (i.e. no control to set limits, engaging in unhealthy behaviour in order to use). Consequences are what truly seals the addiction definition. Continuing to use even after being faced with negative consequences like losing a job, family, or having trouble with the police.


“A process of sustained action that addresses the biological, psychological, social and spiritual disturbances inherent in addiction.” Recovery is the journey to remission. Whether the client is in outpatient or inpatient treatment, the work they are putting in is their recovery. Recovery is not a linear journey but it is the “sustained action” that counts.


“A state of wellness where there is an abatement of signs and symptoms that characterize active addiction.” In a disease model, remission means the disease is out of the system and is no longer causing concern, like when someone goes into remission from cancer. Therefore, this is the word used to demonstrate that a client is now functioning like a person without an addiction.


“A process in which an individual who has established abstinence or sobriety experiences recurrence of signs and symptoms of active addiction, often including resumption of the pathological pursuit of reward and/or relief through the use of substance and other behaviours.” Relapse can be very disheartening, however, it is very common. Just like learning to ride a bike, a client should expect a few falls along the way. The client is learning healthy behaviours and making huge life changes to get to a remission state. As mentioned above, the most important thing is to get back on the recovery journey and keep trying.


“Intentional and consistent restraint from the pathological pursuit of reward and/or relief that involves the use of substances and other behaviours.” Abstinence is promoted by numerous organizations and is the crux of many philosophies. However, abstinence as a concept really does not hold up under scientific scrutiny. Abstinence sees the drug as the problem and the reason for the addiction. If this were true, however, everyone who drank alcohol or tried a drug would become addicted. It has been proved many times over that in order to prevent addiction we must look at the individual. Why is this person drawn to becoming intoxicated? Do they have an undiagnosed mental health issue, have they experienced trauma, are they in a less than ideal work/living/family situation? When we answer these questions we usually find the real reason someone has developed an addiction.


“A state of sustained abstinence with a clear commitment to and active seeking of balance in the biological, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of an individual’s health and wellness that were previously compromised by active addiction.” Sobriety is usually the goal for people in recovery, and is the goal of most treatment programs. This can be an attainable goal for some, and for others, moderation is a better goal. This is a personal decision, and if you feel you need more help finding a treatment program that best fits you, please contact our specialist here. This website offers a cornucopia of information on drug rehab and alcohol treatment programs in cities as diverse as Calgary or Edmonton, Toronto or Vancouver.


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