Drug Dictionary

Drug Terms Drug Dictionary


The practice of restraint from indulgence in something, commonly used while discussing drugs or alcohol.


Over the counter pain medications like Advil that are commonly used to treat minor muscle aches, tension headaches, and similar minor ailments.

Addiction Assessment:

An over the phone or in-person clinical interview to determine the prevalence of chemical dependency or the extent of one’s addiction.


A repeated activity that continuously causes one’s life to be unmanageable.

Addictive Personality:

A set of traits that make a person more prone to develop addictions to habit forming behaviors, drugs, or alcohol.

Adverse Reaction:

Also known as ADR, standing for adverse drug reaction is when there is bodily harm caused by taking medication. This can happen from prolonged use of a substance, using more than one medication together, or in some cases after just one use.

Age at Onset:

The time a person has first abused drugs. This is generally a question asked during an initial assessment.


When receptors in the brain are activated by a drug.


A stimulant based drug. Typically these are prescribed for those who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Common brand names of amphetamines are Adderall and Vyvanse.


This is a type of substance that blocks another drug’s effect. It does the opposite of an agonist by binding to receptors in the brain rather than causing an effect. An example of an antagonist substance is buprenorphine.


A type of drug that acts as a depressant to the central nervous system. It produces a wide spectrum of effects from mild drowsiness to total sedation.


Also commonly called “benzos” are depressants that are used to relieve panic disorders, anxiety, induce sleep, prevent seizures, and muscle spasms. Common brand names are Xanax and Klonopin.


A drug’s ability to enter the body.

Blood Alcohol Level/Concentration:

The level of concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream expressed as a percentage by weight.


A medication used in MAT Treatment programs, it is an opioid based medication, available with prescription only.

Causal Factors:

Predisposed characteristics or condition that lead to addiction issues in a individual.

Ceiling Effect:

When a level of buprenorphine is increased to a level so high that there is no further results.

Central Nervous System (CNS):

Brain and Spinal Cord


Severe liver damage typically causes from alcohol abuse over many years. There are other causes that also cause Cirrhosis but drug and alcohol addiction are the most common.


A prescription pain medication syrup that is opioid based.


A relationship that both partners are so emotionally and psychologically invested that no decisions are made without the other’s approval. It is an unhealthy reliance on the other individual in a relationship.

Cold Turkey:

Suddenly quitting substance use.


When a behavior is done repetitively paired with a psychological condition. There is a sense of dread if the behavior is not completed in the repetitive manner.


An extreme urge to use a substance, drug, or alcohol.


Drug of Choice Acronym


When the individual does not see any problem with their addiction or think that there are any issues that is making their life unmanageable.


A sedative that affects the Central Nervous System. Also commonly known as a downer. These typically make people “mellow out”.


A mental health disorder, depressive disorder characterized by an overwhelming amount of sadness in mood that lasts for two weeks or more.


The act in which all substances are purged from an active drug or alcohol users body. A typical detoxification process is generally in a medical office and supervised by medical professional. Also known as a medical detoxification.


A disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.

Drug Recreation or Misuse:

Use of a drug that was not taken as prescribed by a medical professional. Recreation specifically means drug use for the affect rather than for a specific ailment.

Drug Tolerance:

After prolonged drug use the body naturally decreases the responsiveness.

Dual Diagnosis:

Also known as co-occurring disorder, when a person suffers from a mental illness and drug addiction or alcohol addiction simultaneously.


Driving Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol, an acronym.


Acronym for driving while intoxicated.


Aiding an individual who is suffering from addiction or problematic behavior, such as giving money, a place to stay, making excuses for behavior…etc.


A medical term also commonly known as alcohol.


A state of pleasurable altered consciousness.

Evidence Based Treatment:

Validated by science, these treatment studies are tested with extensive research and proven successful. The main goal of EBT is to encourage the use of effective and safe treatments that will achieve the desired result.

Food and Drug Administration:

Also known as the FDA, this department of the government administers federal laws regarding the safety of drugs and their effectiveness.


A term that was used for addiction or physical dependence, it is outdated and not used as commonly now.


A substance that distorts the users perception which results in hallucinations and delusions. Common types of hallucinogens are deliriants, dissociatives, and psychedelics.


A common street opioid based drug. It is commonly used recreationally for the euphoric effects it causes on the user. It is injected, snorted, smoked, and inhaled.


A narcotic opioid, first produced in cough medication, common brand name is Percocet.


The state when an individual is under the influence of alcohol, barbiturates, and other toxic drugs.


A common prescription medication used as a maintenance therapy to help drug users taper from heroin and other opioid based drugs.


Commonly sold under the brand name Narcan, this medication is used when an individual has overdosed on opioid drugs. It blocks the effects of opioids. It comes in an injectable dose and also as a nasal spray.


A drug that produces drowsiness/sleep. It also relieves pain.

Negative Reinforcement:

Repetitive behavior to avoid something unpleasant.


Chemical messengers in the brain that enable neurotransmission.


A substance/drug that does not activate the opioid receptors in the brain.


A behavior (mental) that makes an individual involuntarily repeat behaviors that could be potentially harmful.

Off-Label Use:

It is similar to recreational use, the use of a drug for reasons other than the recommendations of the physician.


The natural ingredient derived from a poppy flower. Common in all opioid based drugs both prescription and street drugs.


The synthetic form of Opium


A popular drug, contained in sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and muscle-relaxers.


Non-prescription drugs that are legal.


An opioid based drug that is used to relieve moderate to high pain.


Opioids and non opioid analgesic substances. Including: codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and many more.


The scientific branch of medicine that deals with uses, effects and modes of action drugs.

Physical Dependence:

The body’s physiological adaptation to a substance.


A substance with no pharmacological elements that may elicit a reaction because of a guest’s mindset.

Polysubstance Abuse:

When an individual is using more than one substance at the same time.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS):

When withdrawal symptoms come back after the initial detox has already been completed.

Precipitated Withdrawal Syndrome:

When a substance such as heroin is displaced from its opioid receptor (usually when overdose occurs) by an antagonist, such as naloxone.

Prescription Drugs:

Available only via script from a certified physician.

Psychedelic Drugs:

These drugs produce an intense pleasurable mental state for the individual using. Common drug names are LSD, acid, and “magic” mushrooms.

Psychological Dependence:

The compulsion for a drug user to used a psychological based drug for the euphoric feeling associated- often leads to abuse.


The study of how substances affect the consciousness, sensation, mood and more.


The protein on a target cell membrane or cytoplasm where the drug interacts.

Recovery Rates:

Percentages of addicts who have undergone treatment and have participated in abstinence their first year of recovery.


After struggling with substance abuse or addiction, the act of living life clean and sober without mind altering substances.

Relapse Prevention Plan:

A plan devised to make sure the occurrence of a relapse does not happen, usually set in place by a recovery coach or primary therapist.


When a recovering addict returns to use of the drug or alcohol after a period of abstinence.


A symptom-free time period.

Side Effects:

Undesirable, secondary effects of a drug.


A drug class that act on the Central Nervous System, resulting in excitement, alertness, and feelings of energy.

Substance Abuse:

Drug and substance abuse is a pattern where the drug user consumes over the recommended dosage and also in methods that are harmful, it is a condition under a drug or alcohol use disorder.


Not made naturally.

Therapeutic Community:

A setting where like-minded individuals can meet, discuss and support one another on their recovery journey.

Therapeutic Dependence:

When an individual has the tendency to show drug-seeking behaviors because of the withdrawal fear.


When an individual most consume more and more of the same drug in order for it to have the effect.


The degree to which alcohol or drugs can damage or poison an individual.


A type of drug that helps an individual that relieve poisoning symptoms.


Thoughts, memories, or really anything that reminds a recovering addict of drug or alcohol use. Trigger can be anything that results in psychological and then physical relapse.

Up or Uppers:

Anything that produce a euphoric effect. Drugs such as stimulants and amphetamines.


Less intense than a drug or alcohol craving, but the user must still overcome a feeling to want to use drugs or alcohol.

Withdrawal Symptoms:

Physical actions, symptoms or behaviors that are directly related to suddenly stopping any drug or alcohol use. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur anywhere from four to 72 hours after drug use (ex: watery eyes, yawning, stomach pains, shaking, nausea..etc).


The sudden stop of drug or alcohol use. The same process that occurs during a detoxification.

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