Behaviour reinforcement strategies

Approaches that link behaviour with outcomes, to encourage positive behaviour and discourage negative behaviour. This includes rewarding positive behaviour (such as going to school or work) and rewarding the absence of negative behaviour (such as using aggressive language).

Brief interventions

Either a short session of structured brief advice or a longer, more motivationally based session (that is, an extended brief intervention). Both aim to help someone reduce their drug use and can be carried out by non-drug specialists.

Dependent [on drugs]

A person who is dependent on drugs has a strong desire or sense of compulsion to take a substance, a difficulty in controlling their drug use, a physiological withdrawal state, tolerance of the use of the drug, neglect of alternative pleasures and interests, and persistently uses the drug, despite harm to themselves and others (adapted from the World Health Organization Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms, 2006).

Digital technology

Technology that requires the use of a device containing a computer or microcomputer. This includes smartphones, laptops and desktop computers, tablets and other electronic devices. Devices do not have to have internet access to be classed as digital technology, although many do. The term 'digital technology' includes the use of websites and social media, apps on smartphones or tablets, and text-based computer programs. Some types of digital technology may be more commonly used by some age groups than others.

Foster carers

People who care for children and young people who are looked after. This includes people who provide long-term care, emergency overnight care and short-term care.

Motivational interviewing

A brief psychotherapeutic intervention. For people who misuse drugs, the aim is to help people reflect on their substance use in the context of their own values and goals and motivate them to change (adapted from the efficacy of single-session motivational interviewing in reducing drug consumption and perceptions of drug-related risk and harm among young people: results from a multi-site cluster randomized trial, McCambridge and Strang 2004).


Education sessions for people affected by mental illness and their families and carers. Psychoeducation uses shared learning to empower people to cope better.

Skills training

The teaching of specific verbal and non-verbal behaviours (including personal and social skills) and the practising of these behaviours by the person receiving the training.

For other public health and social care terms, see the Think Local, Act Personal Care and Support Jargon Buster.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)