sober living glossary

Glossary Terms Used During Sober Recovery

The path to sobriety is a long and arduous one, but one with an immeasurable upside. If you are in recovery or on the path to becoming sober, you may have noticed a lot of strange words and acronyms being thrown around.

From treatment centers and rehab facilities, to sober living homes and even your insurance company, we’re here to shed some light on what these terms mean.

12-Step Program

A free peer-based recovery assistance and support program. Widely considered to be the gold standard of recovery programs, the 12-step program is the oldest and most successful of its kind.


Alcoholics Anonymous. A 12-step program for those struggling with addition to alcohol


In the context of addiction, abstinence is a total refrain from the use of substances.


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. A cognitive-behavioral approach to treating addiction, based on the concepts of Acceptance, Mindfulness and personal values.

Acute Care

Typically short-term, immediate care provided by medical professionals lasting up to a month in duration. Form many patients in rehab, acute care is the first stage of medical intervention.

Addiction Counselor

Usually non-medically credentialed, an addiction counselor (also known as substance abuse counselors) provide various levels of support and care in an addiction treatment setting.


Post treatment or post rehab recommendations for ongoing care


A 12-step support program for friends, families and loved ones of alcoholics. Attendees of the program share stories, anecdotes and establish a support network to help each other cope with the trauma and struggles of having a loved one in the throws of addiction.

Alternative Treatment

Treatments that deviate from the clinical norm of Western medicine. Eastern Medicine such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation and more are all forms of alternative medicine.


A process of evaluating if clinical intervention is necessary and to what extent or degree.

Behavioral Addictions

A process of evaluating if clinical intervention is necessary and to what extent or degree.

Behavioral Health

A sub-field of medicine concerned with mental health issues and disorders

Biological Model of Addiction

A theory of addiciotn that focuses on biological and genetic potential for a pre-determined risk or affinity for developing an addiction (i.e. ‘runs in the family’).

Bump Up

A term used to describe a move to a more intensive or involved level of care


Cocaine Anonymous. A 12-step program for those struggling with cocaine addiction


A nationally recognized third-party agency that accredits substance abuse treatment facilities

Case Management

A collaborative approach to recovery, including care coordination, assessment, periodic evaluation, planning and advocacy for services and options to assist with disease management. Case management may involve connecting various service providers and members of a patients support network together to work synergistically towards the common goal of establishing and maintaining sobriety.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A psycho-social form of therapeutically intervention, with a focus on challenging and altering cognitive behavior, controlling emotions, and developing personalized coping mechanisms.


A strong psychological and/or emotional reliance on another individual. Often a close friend or significant other.

Cold Turkey

A term used to describe the sudden and complete cessation of an addictive substance.

Compulsive Behaviors

Referring to a behavior that is often done absent of conscious though or planning, sometimes repetitively or persistently, even in the absence of pleasure or reward, and often to the detriment of the individual.

Contingency Management

A method utilizing motivational incentives (i.e. carrot and the stick) to condition the shaping of positive behaviors.

Co-occurring Disorders

Used to describe two or more disorders present at the same time. This includes both mental health disorders as well as substance abuse.


Typically expressed as a percent or flat rate, this is the fee owed by the patient seeking medical assistance or treatment. For example, if insurance covers 80% with a 20% co-pay, the patient seeking behavioral health or medical care would owe 20% of the bill.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy. An evidence-based psychotherapy aimed at treating borderline personality disorder, self-harm, substance abuse, suicidal ideation and mood disorders.


State ‘Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs’. An agency tasked primarily with evaluating, granting and renewing behavioral health and treatment center licenses.

Dual Diagnosis

The diagnosis of multiple mental health and/or substance abuse issues concurrently present. Also sometimes referred to as ‘co-occurring disorder’.