Addiction Terms

The therapist that I work with is very particular about language. And so he should be. It’s how we make sense of our world, and describe our experiences. Not having a shared understanding of important words, including the context and intention in which they’re used, often leads to misunderstanding and poor interpretation.

Not to bore you too much, but here are some important ones;

Borrowed this from

Ambivalence: Every addict at some point in time is ambivalent to change. Ambivalence is “sitting on the fence”. I might change, I might not. Yes, there are reasons to change…but there are also reasons to stay the same. Overcoming ambivalence and choosing to change is often the hardest part of the healing journey.

Defense Mechanisms: are psychological barriers that we use to distance ourselves from unpleasant thoughts, feelings or experiences (to protect our ego or self-identity). They range from being quite primitive (anger, lashing out), to quite sophisticated (sublimation). Humor is a classic example of a defense mechanism…how many people do you know that like to tell a joke or get a laugh when the conversation or circumstances turn serious? Learn more about defense mechanisms here.

Inflation: The tendency for addictions to grow in frequency/severity over time.

Codependency: The phenomena in which someone else (not the addict, usually a primary caregiver such as a spouse or parent) becomes dependent on the addict’s behaviors. This might be the mother who quits her job and begins to identify herself as the “family fixer”, putting an inordinate or unequal amount of effort and time into the addicted person.

Denial: One of the defense mechanisms, but so prevalent amongst addicts that it’s worth special mention. Also very common among climate change skeptics.

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