At-Risk Alcohol Use

At-risk alcohol use is a term for a) any drinking by those who are pregnant, underage, operating machinery, or with a health condition adversely affected by alcohol; b) binge drinking, and c) heavy drinking. At-risk alcohol use can result in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, and ability to work. It can also lead to an alcohol use disorder, although at-risk alcohol use is not the same as an alcohol use disorder (which is sometimes referred to as “alcoholism”).
Adapted from: CDC

At-Risk Drug Use

Guidelines for lower-risk use of illicit drugs (including prescription drugs not as prescribed) have not been established. Therefore, all illicit drug use and misuse of prescription drugs should be considered at-risk. However, as with alcohol, at-risk drug use is not the same as having a substance use disorder, although it may also result in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, and ability to work. For some individuals, at-risk drug use leads to a substance use disorder.

Behavioral Health

Behavioral health is the field of health care concerned with substance use and other mental health disorders.
Adapted from: Recovery Research Institute

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug and alcohol use.
Adapted from: Harm Reduction Coalition

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT is the use of medications, in combination with other therapies, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Examples of medications are methadone and buprenorphine for opioid addiction, naltrexone and acamprosate for alcohol addiction, and nicotine replacement therapy for tobacco users who are addicted to nicotine.
Adapted from: SAMHSA


Injury to the body (poisoning) that happens when a drug is taken in excessive amounts. An overdose can be fatal or nonfatal. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury death in the United States.
Adapted from: CDC

Prescription Drug Misuse

Misuse of prescription drugs means taking a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed; taking someone else’s prescription, even if for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain; or taking a medication to feel euphoria (i.e., to get high). Data indicate that prescription drug misuse has grown substantially in the last few decades. For example, treatment admissions for prescription drug use quadrupled between 1999 and 2009.
Adapted from: NIDA


At-risk substance use and addiction can be prevented. Prevention strategies include: screening, brief intervention, and perhaps referrals to treatment (SBIRT); messaging from parents, doctors, teachers, the media and others in the community to encourage healthy choices and discourage substance use; increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol products; reducing the availability of non-medical prescription medications; and restricting advertising of addictive substances, particularly to young people.
Adapted from: CASAColumbia


There is no broadly agreed-upon definition of recovery from addiction. SAMHSA has constructed a working definition of recovery from addiction and mental health disorders, which is “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.” The recovery process is highly personal and occurs via many pathways. It may include clinical treatment, medications, faith-based approaches, peer support, family support, self-care, and other approaches.
Adapted from: SAMHSA


Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based approach to identifying people who use alcohol and other drugs at risky levels, with the goal of reducing and preventing related health consequences, disease, accidents and injuries. Anyone can do SBIRT, including medical professionals, human service providers, educators, and faith leaders.
Adapted from: SBIRT Colorado

Substance Use

Substance use is a multi-faceted phenomenon that encompasses a range of behaviors. People use substances for complex reasons. Substance use may be risky (e.g. teenage drinking, smoking while pregnant). It may lead to (or be a symptom of) a substance use disorder.
Adapted from: Harm Reduction Coalition

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

The American Psychiatric Association uses the term substance use disorder (SUD) to diagnose an unhealthy relationship with substances, including addiction. SUDs can be categorized as mild, moderate and severe. The symptoms associated with an SUD fall into four major groupings: impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and pharmacological criteria (i.e., tolerance and withdrawal). SUDs are treatable.
Adapted from: NIDA


Treatment is intended to help individuals with addiction stop compulsive seeking and use of substances. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. It may include both medications and counseling. Because addiction can be a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, one-time treatment may not be sufficient.
Adapted from: NIDA