Definitions for substance use and mental health

From abstinence to zoopsia, the definitions page is here to help you.  Keeping track of all of the vocabulary, slang and acronyms related to mental health and substance use can be overwhelming.

This page has been created to help you understand and keep up to date with what you want to know. 

Words with a red asterisk* will indicate that a word or concept is controversial or has a stigma associated with it.

Think something is missing that should be included?  Feel free to let me know.

A B C D E F GH I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

A

ABSTINENCE

Refraining from drug or alcohol use, whether as a matter of principle or for other reasons. The term "current abstainer", often used in population surveys, is usually defined as a person who has not drunk an alcoholic beverage in the past 12 months.   

 

In harm reduction therapy, abstinence is considered one of many possible goals a person might have regarding their alcohol and/or drug intake.    

ADDICT*

A person who exhibits impaired control over managing their substance use, or behavioral addiction such as gambling.  The term is common but has a derogatory connotation.  Recommended language might state, “person struggling with addiction” or a “person with a substance use disorder”.

ADDICTION

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.”

Adopted by the ASAM Board of Directors September 15, 2019

ALCOHOL

Ethanol (EtOH) is the only form of alcohol that is meant for human consumption.  Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, producing feelings of relaxation and pleasure, disinhibition, motor impairment, memory loss, and slurred speech.  At high doses alcohol can cause breathing problems, coma, or death.

Alcohol consumption is also connected to increased risk of accidents such as violence, car accidents and risky sexual behavior.  Alcohol is frequently involved when suicides or homicides occur.

ALCOHOL POISONING

Alcohol overdose (or poisoning) occurs when there is so much alcohol in the bloodstream that areas of the brain controlling basic life-support functions shut down. This includes our breathing, heart rate and temperature control.

ALCOHOLIC*

A person who exhibits impaired control over engaging in alcohol use despite suffering severe harms caused by such activity.  This word has a negative connotation.  Recommended language might state, “person struggling with addiction” or a “person with an alcohol use disorder.”

ALCOHOLISM

A term of long-standing use and variable meaning, generally taken to refer to chronic continual drinking or periodic consumption of alcohol which is characterized by impaired control over drinking, frequent episodes of intoxication, and preoccupation with alcohol and the use of alcohol despite adverse consequences.

The DSM-5 does not use the word, alcoholism.  The proper terminology used by the medical community is alcohol use disorder.

ALCOHOL USE DISORDER (AUD)

A problematic pattern of alcohol consumption, characterized by compulsive use of alcohol, impaired control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using. According to the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association, an alcohol use disorder is present if two or more of the 11 criteria are met within a 12-month period.

AMBIVALENCE

A state of psychological tension in which one is pulled in two different directions: to stay the same or to make changes.

Harm reduction understands and embraces ambivalence.  Rather than viewing it as a lack motivation, it is viewed as normal, healthy and indicates one is capable of seeing and understanding the “gray areas” of life.

ANGER MANAGEMENT

Anger that is felt too frequently or too intensely can become problematic.  It can affect relationships, work and general wellbeing.  Anger management assists individuals in reducing both  emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes.  Anger management incorporates CBT, and involves relaxation training, cognitive re-structuring, enhanced communication skills, development of anger control plans, conflict resolution skills, assertiveness training, and humor. 

 

(See cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).)

ANXIETY

Anxiety is the anticipation of a future concern.  Although it is a normal feeling, anxiety that is felt too frequently and too intensely can get in the way of general wellbeing. An individual dealing with excess anxiety is likely to find it difficult to manage their worry, and may have symptoms such as restlessness, fatigue, problems concentrating, irritability, and disturbed sleep.

People with anxiety are more likely to use alcohol and drugs.

ASSERTIVENESS 

Assertiveness is a communication skill that anyone can learn. Assertiveness is about mutual respect; it is communicating needs, wants and boundaries in a neutral, but firm way that is respectful to others and to yourself. If you are being assertive, you are standing up for yourself, but you are also not bullying or hurting others.

AYAHUASCA

Plant-based hallucinogen that users drink.  Initially, there is nausea and vomiting, followed by anxiety and/or fear.  This is usually followed by an intense hallucinatory and dissociative experience and a sense of profound insight.  The experience lasts several hours.

Ayahuasca is almost never used recreationally, but rather as a pharmacologic aid to personal insight.  There are many proponents of using ayahuasca to treat substance use disorder and PTSD, specifically combat PTSD.  Many people who have undergone the experience report significant improvements, but there are insufficient studies to indicate overall effectiveness. 

Barriers to further studies include double blind difficulty, legality, and lack of financial incentives, among many others.

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B

BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION (BAC)

BAC refers to the percent of alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) in a person's blood stream. A BAC of .10% means that an individual's blood supply contains one-part alcohol for every 1000 parts blood.

 

In Texas (and many other states), a person is legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of .08% or higher.

BARBITURATE

A central nervous system depressant that causes sedation and sleep. These medications have been replaced largely by benzodiazepines because they are less toxic, and benzodiazepines have lower potential for overdose risk.

 

Individuals who use these drugs over long periods can become dependent, even though the prescribed dose is never exceeded. Barbiturates are still sometimes used medically, however, as anticonvulsants, for example phenobarbital.

BEHAVIORAL ADDICTIONS

A form of addiction that involves a compulsion to engage in a rewarding non-drug-related behavior, despite experiencing negative harmful consequences due to the compulsive behavior.  Examples might include gambling, sex, food, porn, shopping, etc.

Note: only gambling is included in the DSM-5 and it is referred to as gambling disorder.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

The field of health care concerned with substance use and other mental health disorders.  Sometimes used interchangeably with mental health.

BENZODIAZEPINES

A class of psychoactive drugs that act as minor tranquilizers producing sedation, muscle relaxation, and sleep; commonly used in the treatment of anxiety, convulsions, and alcohol withdrawal.

Even when benzodiazepines are taken in therapeutic doses, their abrupt discontinuation can induce a withdrawal syndrome. Symptoms are more intense with shorter-acting preparations; with the long-acting benzodiazepines, withdrawal symptoms appear one or two weeks after discontinuation and last longer but are less intense.  As with other sedatives, a schedule of slow detoxification is necessary to avoid serious complications such as withdrawal seizures.

Fatal overdose is rare with any benzodiazepine unless it is taken concurrently with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants.

Commonly referred to as benzos.  Examples, include Valium, Xanax and Klonopin.

BINGE DRINKING

Excessive alcohol consumption within a short time period.

The CDC defines binge drinking as: Men consuming 5 or more drinks or women consuming 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

BLACKOUT

A blackout (acute anterograde amnesia) is a period of amnesia or memory loss, typically caused by chronic, high-dose substance use. The person later cannot remember the blackout period. Blackouts are most often caused by sedative-hypnotics such as alcohol and benzodiazepines.  A black out is not associated with loss of consciousness

BIPHASIC EFFECT OF ALCOHOL

When a person initially consumes alcohol, the body first experiences an energizing or positive effect; this is followed, with continued drinking, by a depressant or negative effect of alcohol. Therefore, there is a point of diminishing returns (a blood alcohol level between .05-.06%) at which ceasing alcohol consumption will minimize negative consequences.

This effect counters cultural myths and often personal beliefs that increasing alcohol consumption will continue to lead to increasing euphoria and energy.

BUPRENORPHINE

A semisynthetic opioid to control moderate to severe pain and to treat opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine can be administered by injection (for pain), a transdermal skin patch (to control pain or treat opioid use disorder) and is used alone or in combination with naloxone in the form of a dissolvable tablet placed under the tongue (sublingual) or film placed inside the cheek to treat opioid use disorder.

Common brand names include: Subutex and Suboxone.

BURNOUT

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion.  It is caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.  Burnout tends to happen slowly, over time.  It reduces both productivity and motivation, often creating feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and cynicism.

Burnout can also cause health problems that make individuals more susceptible to certain illnesses.  For some, drugs and alcohol are used to cope with the feelings of burnout.

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C

CAFFEINE 

A xanthine, which is a mild central nervous system stimulant, vasodilator, and diuretic. Caffeine is found in coffee, chocolate, cola and some other soft drinks, and tea, in some cases with other xanthines such as theophylline or theobromine.

Acute or chronic overuse (a daily intake of 500 mg or more) with resultant toxicity is termed caffeinism. Symptoms include restlessness, insomnia, flushed face, muscle twitching, tachycardia, gastrointestinal disturbances including abdominal pain, pressured or rambling thought and speech, and sometimes exacerbation of pre-existing anxiety or panic states, depression, or schizophrenia.

The DSM-5 includes caffeine related disorders (intoxication and withdrawal) and caffeine use disorders.

CANNABIS

An incredibly versatile plant with uses ranging from industrial, to medicinal to social.   There are three main types of cannabisCannabis sativaCannabis indica, and hemp.  Cannabis is the general botanical name of the plant that produces marijuana. The cannabis plant contains more than 400 chemical and several of them of are psychoactive.  (see THC). 

Marijuana is generally considered to be safest of all recreational drugs.  Psychological and medical benefits of marijuana include, feelings of relaxation, happiness, reduced stress and aggression, increases in appetite and decrease in nausea (helpful for those with AIDS and chemotherapy patients), reduced eye pressure from glaucoma and helpful for those suffering from seizures, migraines and chronic pain.  There is no risk of overdose.

Some people do experience less desirable effects, some of which include, dry mouth, delayed reaction time, paranoia, loss of motivation, respiratory problems (when smoked), and dizziness.  Due to the increase in heart rate and decrease in blood pressure older people and those with heart problems may be at risk of a heart attack.  

Marijuana use by adolescents is generally not advised.  Regular use before age 18 has been associated with problems with learning, cognitive function, visual scanning, problems with memory formation and mental flexibility.  The reason adults are not affected in the same way seems to be related to the hippocampus while it is still developing.

The DSM-5 includes cannabis related disorders (intoxication and withdrawal) and cannabis use disorders.

CAREGIVERS

Early theories tended to blame family members for the addiction issues within the family system, but later theories acknowledged the stress created by being in a close relationship with someone suffering from an alcohol or substance use disorder.

Despite agreement that family members are seriously affected by the substance use, and general acknowledgement that they are not only concerned about their loved one but also deal with the negative effects of the use, they have had limited options for help or treatment involvement. This is unfortunate, because research suggests that they not only can benefit from receiving help, but they also can positively influence the individual suffering from alcohol and/or drug use.

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS)

The part of the nervous system which consists of the brain and spinal cord, to which sensory impulses are transmitted and from which motor impulses pass out, and which supervises and coordinates the activity of the entire nervous system.

The three most vital functions that the CNS controls are the reflex system, the circulatory system, and the respiratory system. 

Some drugs are CNS stimulants, such as meth or cocaine.  Some are CNS depressants like alcohol or opioids.

CLEAN*

A reference to a state of a person being abstinent from drugs of misuse. It may also be used in describing urine test results that are not positive for substance use. The term has been viewed as potentially stigmatizing because of its negative connotation, with the opposite being “dirty.”

It is preferred to use proper, neutral medical terminology, i.e. remission, recovery, or urine drug screens as positive or negative.

COCAINE

A stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant.  It activates the reward centers of the brain to produce sensations of extreme happiness and energy, increased mental alertness, hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch, irritability or anxiety, constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, nausea, tremors and muscle twitches, rapid and/or irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.

Also known as blow or coke.  Cocaine can be inhaled (e.g. smoked, or vapors inhaled), snorted, or injected.  (See crack, stimulant).

CODEINE

An analgesic opioid produced for the treatment of mild to moderate pain that works by activating the reward centers of the brain to provide pain relief.

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1950, codeine is frequently combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin as a prescription pain medication.  Codeine is often found in cough medicine; it is a narcotic cough suppressant. It affects the signals in the brain that trigger cough reflex.  (See opioid).

CO-DEPENDENCY*

Immoderate emotional or psychological reliance on a partner. Often used with regards to a partner requiring support due to an illness or disease, such as a substance use disorder.

The term has been viewed as stigmatizing as it tends to pathologize family members’ concern and care for their loved one and may increase their shame.

COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT)

A therapeutic approach that seeks to modify negative or self-defeating thoughts and behavior. CBT is aimed at both thought and behavior change.  Essentially, coping by thinking differently and coping by acting differently.

COKE BUGS

Slang term for tactile hallucinations (formication) that feel like bugs crawling on or under the skin. Chronic and high-dose stimulant abuse can cause these hallucinations.

COLD TURKEY

Slang term for the abrupt and complete cessation in intake of an addictive substance. The term stems from the appearance of goosebumps on the skin often observable in individuals when physiologically withdrawing from a substance.

COMORBIDITY

The occurrence of two disorders or illnesses in the same person, also referred to as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.

COMPULSION

When applied to psychoactive substance use, the term refers to a powerful urge attributed to internal feelings rather than external influences; to take the substance(s) in question. The substance user may recognize the urge as detrimental to well-being and may have a conscious intent to refrain.

CONTINUUM OF USE

Substance use occurs on a continuum.  It ranges from no use (abstinence) to harmless use to out of control use or having an alcohol or substance use disorder.  Essentially, individuals differ in their levels of use or their patterns for using.

CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

Psychoactive substances whose distribution is forbidden by law or limited to medical and pharmaceutical channels. The term is often used to refer to psychoactive drugs and precursors covered by international drug conventions (the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, amended by a 1972 Protocol; the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances: the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances).

At both international and national levels (as in the 1970 United States Controlled Substances Act), controlled drugs are commonly classified according to a hierarchy of schedules, reflecting different degrees of restriction of availability. (See controlled substance schedule).

CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE SCHEDULE

According to the DEA: Drugs and other substances that are considered controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) are divided into five schedules.

An updated and complete list of the schedules is published annually in Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) §§1308.11 through 1308.15. Substances are placed in their respective schedules based on whether they have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, their relative abuse potential, and likelihood of causing dependence when abused.

CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS

Most often used to describe both a mental health diagnosis and a substance use disorder. Personality disorder may also co-exist with psychiatric illness and/or substance use disorders. Also known as comorbidity or dual diagnosis.

COPING STRATEGIES

The specific efforts, both behavioral & psychological, utilized to master, tolerate, reduce, or minimize the effects of stressful events.

Harm reduction respects and understands that the origin of substance use is often a coping mechanism or strategy.

CRACK

Crack is alkaloidal (free base) cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride), an amorphous compound that may contain crystals of sodium chloride. It is “modified cocaine”. "Crack" refers to the crackling sound made when the compound is heated.

An intense "high" occurs 4-6 seconds after crack is inhaled; an early feeling of elation or the disappearance of anxiety is experienced, together with exaggerated feelings of confidence and self-esteem. There is also impairment of judgement, and the user is thus likely to undertake irresponsible, illegal, or dangerous activities without regard for the consequences. Speech is pressured and may become disjointed and incoherent. Pleasurable effects last only 5-7 minutes, after which the mood rapidly descends into dysphoria, and the user is compelled to repeat the process in order to regain the exhilaration and euphoria of the "high".

Overdose appears to be more frequent with crack than with other forms of cocaine.

CRAVING

Intense desire for a psychoactive substance or for the intoxicating effects of that substance. Craving is a term in popular use for the mechanism presumed to underlie impaired control: it is thought by some to develop, at least partly, because of conditioned associations that evoke conditioned withdrawal responses. Craving may also be induced by the provocation of any physiological arousal state resembling an alcohol or drug withdrawal syndrome.

CROSS TOLERANCE

Occurs when tolerance develops to multiple (or all) drugs in the same class. (See drug class). 

CULTURAL COMPETENCE

The capacity of a service provider (or organization) to understand and work effectively in accordance with the cultural beliefs and practices of persons from a given ethnic/cultural group. Also includes an ability to examine and understand nuances and exercise full cultural empathy.

CULTURAL SENSITIVITY

The capacity and willingness of a clinician or other service provider to be open to working with issues of culture and diversity.

CULTURALLY COMPETENT TREATMENT

Biopsychosocial or other treatment that is adapted to suit the special cultural beliefs, practices, and needs of a client.

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D

DEATHS OF DESPAIR

Deaths caused by drug and alcohol use and/or suicide.

DELIRIUM TREMENS

A severe form of alcohol withdrawal involving sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes resulting in varying degrees of mental confusion and hallucinations. Onset typically occurs 24-48 hours following cessation of alcohol. It is often preceded by physiological tremulousness and sweating following acute cessation in individuals with severe alcohol use disorder.

Commonly referred to as DT’s.

DEPENDENCE

Usually refers to physiological dependence and is characterized only by tolerance and withdrawal.  It may have nothing to do with psychological dependence, which people generally refer to as addiction.  (See tolerance; withdrawal).

DEPOT INJECTION

An injection of a medication that is intended to gradually disperse its therapeutic contents into the human body over a number of weeks. In the case of substance use disorders (opioid or alcohol use disorder), this can reduce problems with medication adherence as medications are more typically taken on a daily schedule and orally. Common depot injection for substance use is Vivitrol.

DEPRESSANT

Any agent that suppresses, inhibits, or decreases some aspects of central nervous system (CNS) activity. The main classes of CNS depressants are the sedatives/hypnotics, opioids, and neuroleptics.

 

Examples of depressant drugs are alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and heroin. 

Downer is slang for depressant.

DEPRESSION

Feelings of depression are common, but can become serious.  Depression negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and act.   Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.  Depression symptoms are on a range from mild to severe.

DESIGNER DRUGS

A novel chemical substance with psychoactive properties, synthesized specifically for sale on the illicit market and to circumvent regulations on controlled substances. In response, these regulations now commonly cover novel and possible analogues of existing psychoactive substances. The term was coined in the 1980's.

Examples of designer drugs include bath salts, spice and K2.

DETOXIFICATION (DETOX)

The medical process focused on treating the physical effects of withdrawal from substance use and comfortably achieving metabolic stabilization.  For some, this is the first step toward longer term treatment.

Detoxification may or may not involve the administration of medication. When it does, the medication given is usually a drug that shows cross-tolerance and cross-dependence to the substance(s) taken by the patient. The dose is calculated to relieve the withdrawal syndrome without inducing intoxication and is gradually tapered off as the patient recovers.

DIAGNOSTIC AND STATISTICAL MANUAL OF MENTAL DISORDERS, 5th EDITION (DSM-5)

The 2013 update to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) classification and diagnostic tool. In the United States, the DSM-5 serves as a universal authority for psychiatric diagnosis.

DIMETHYLTRYPTAMINE (DMT)

DMT is a serotonin-related hallucinogen.  DMT comes from Central and South America.  Unlike LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, DMT is short-acting hallucinogen.  Typical trips last around an hour and often produces more anxiety in part because of its brevity.

Also, called businessman’s lunch.  (See hallucinogen, trip).

DIRTY*

A reference to a urine test that is positive for substance use, or a person still using substances. This term is viewed as stigmatizing because of its negative connotation. Instead, it is recommended to use proper medical terminology such as an individual having positive test results or is actively using.

DOPE SICK*

Slang referencing opioid withdrawal symptoms.  It is preferable to use medically accepted terminology such as withdrawal.

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include anxiety, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, body aches, watery eyes, runny nose and abdominal pain. Though the symptoms are often severe, for most people they are not life-threatening.

DRUG

A term of varied usage. In medicine, it refers to any substance with the potential to prevent or cure disease or enhance physical or mental welfare, and in pharmacology to any chemical agent that alters the biochemical physiological processes of tissues or organisms.

DRUG ABUSE

A term sometimes used to describe an array of problems resulting from intensive use of psychoactive substances.

DRUG CLASSES

Substances can belong to one or more drug categories or classes. A drug class is a group of substances that while not identical, share certain similarities such as chemical structure, elicited effects, or intended usage.

5 common psychoactive drug classes include: stimulants (cocaine, coffee), depressants (barbiturates, benzodiazepines), narcotics (opioids like morphine and heroin), hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin), and marijuana (cannabis).

DRUG DREAM

Reoccurring dreams during the recovery process from substance use disorder that concern depictions of substance use, often vivid in nature, and frequently involving a relapse scenario. These dreams decrease in frequency with time in recovery from substance use disorder.  

DRY DRUNK*

Commonly used by the Alcoholics Anonymous and peer support communities, this term identifies individuals who no longer utilize alcohol, but continue to behave in ways believed to be dysfunctional or show regression in personal growth or within their recovery program.

The term carries stigma and may not accurately represent complex issues and feelings a person in recovery may be going through. 

DUAL DIAGNOSIS

Describes patients with both a mental health diagnosis and substance use disorder. Personality disorder may also co-exist with psychiatric illness and/or substance use disorders. (See comorbid, co-occurring)

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E

ECSTASY

Slang term for methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a member of the amphetamine family. A synthetic substance with stimulant and hallucinogenic effects, that produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, and distorted sensory and time perception. Side effects include nausea, muscle cramping, involuntary teeth clenching, blurred vision, chills, and sweating.

Also known as Molly, E, XTC, Adam.  Slang for being high on ecstasy is “rolling”.

ENABLING*

Actions that typically involve removing or diminishing the naturally occurring negative consequences resulting from substance use, increasing the likelihood of disease progression. The term has a stigma associated with it, due to the inference of judgement and blame typically of a concerned loved-one.

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F

FENTANYL

A potent synthetic opioid that activates the reward centers of the brain to produce sensations of euphoria and provide pain relief. Side effects have included alterations in consciousness, sensations of heaviness, decreases in mental function, constipation, anxiety, changes in mood and appetite, nausea, dry mouth, intense itching, constricted pupils, and increased body temperature.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and is available in legal prescription form, and increasingly, in illegal illicit forms. Many overdoses have occurred due to fentanyl being added to heroin, cocaine and other drugs. 

Fentanyl is generally only prescribed to patients in extreme pain, such as those with cancer.  Fentanyl comes in various forms (lozenge on a handle, sublingual, tablet, film and a buccal tablet).  The various forms have unique brand names associated with them.

Also known as Apache, Fenty, or Jackpot.

FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME (FAS)

An irreversible syndrome inherited by children exposed to alcohol consumption by the mother in utero. This syndrome is characterized by physical and mental birth defects. This is currently more commonly referred to as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  Most babies born with this diagnosis will have an intellectual and/or developmental disability (IDD).

FLASHBACKS

Post-hallucinogen perception disorder, a spontaneous recurrence of the visual distortions, physical symptoms, loss of ego boundaries, or intense emotions that occurred when the individual ingested hallucinogens in the past.

Flashbacks are episodic, of short duration (seconds to hours), and may duplicate exactly the symptoms of previous hallucinogen episodes. They may be precipitated by fatigue, alcohol intake, or marijuana intoxication. Post- hallucinogenic flashbacks are relatively common.

Flashbacks may also refer to symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Flashbacks of this nature have their origins in the experience of trauma, rather than hallucinogen use.

FULL SUSTAINED REMISSION

1 year without substance use disorder symptoms, except for cravings.

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G

GATEWAY DRUG

Gateway drugs have been described as drugs you use earlier in life that put you at risk for using “harder” drugs later.  Marijuana has most frequently been the “poster child” for the gateway drug theory.  However, the vast majority of people who have used marijuana have never moved on to harder drugs.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, “there is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent use of other drugs”.

 

Research has proven alcohol and tobacco to be true gateway drugs.

GOOD SAMARITAN LAW (REGARDING OVERDOSE)

Texas is one of the very few states that does not provide basic legal protection from low-level drug offenses to 911 callers requesting emergency assistance for a suspected overdose.  During the 86th Texas Legislature, two Good Samaritan bills, SB 305 and HB 2432 were refiled. Despite thousands of opioid deaths in Texas since their initial filling, Governor Abbott essentially blocked the bills from consideration.

GRIEF

Grief is the natural reaction to loss. It can be an overwhelming emotion to experience. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss.  Grief may occur following a death, a job loss, a relationship ending, the death of pet or any kind of loss that feels significant to someone.

GROUNDING TECHNIQUES

The use of strategies that soothe and distract someone who is experiencing intense pain or other strong emotions, helping anchor them in the present. Most grounding exercises involve either sensory awareness or cognitive awareness.

Grounding techniques can be helpful in managing stress/anxiety, panic, and PTSD symptoms such as flashbacks.

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H

HALLUCINOGEN

A substance that induces hallucinations.  Most often these drugs intensify or alter perceptions of reality rather than create ones that are not there.  However, this is variable by drug and by dose.

There are 3 primary types of hallucinogens.  Serotonin-related (LSD, psilocybin), Catecholamine-related (mescaline) and acetylcholine-related (ibogaine).  

HARM REDUCTION

According to the Harm Reduction Coalition: Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.

HARM REDUCTION PSYCHOTHERAPY

Per the founders of Harm Reduction Therapy, Patt Denning and Jeannie Little, “Harm Reduction Therapy is a revolutionary client-therapist collaboration that combines substance misuse treatment with psychotherapy, so clients can address both their substance use and the issues that are behind it.”

HASHISH

Hashish is a potent form of cannabis (marijuana) produced by collecting and compressing trichomes, the most potent material from cannabis plants.  Trichomes are the fine growths on cannabis plants that produce a sticky resin.

(See cannabis, THC).

HEROIN

Heroin (diacetylmorphine) is a drug made from the opium poppy plant.  It is a central nervous system depressant that activates the reward centers of the brain to produce sensations of euphoria. Heroin can also produce alterations in consciousness, sensations of heaviness, decreases in mental function, nausea, dry mouth, intense itching, increased body temperature, coma, or death.

 

Also known as smack and H.

Heroin can be: inhaled (smoked), snorted, or injected.  (See opiates).

HYDROCODONE

An analgesic opioid semi-synthetically produced for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, that activates the reward centers of the brain to provide pain relief. It also contains the non-narcotic pain reliever acetaminophen.

Side effects are similar to those found with other opioids. (See opioids.) However, since it contains acetaminophen, liver damage may occur, especially when in taken in large doses or consumed by people with existing liver problems.

Also known as Vicodin.

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I

IBOGAINE

A naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in Amanita mascaria mushrooms and the iboga plant. Known to have psychedelic (acetylcholine-related) or dissociative properties, Ibogaine is not approved for treatment of substance use disorder in the United States due to lack of proper testing with regard to toxicology, and both the safety and effectiveness of the substance are largely unknown. 

INHALANTS

Substances that produce chemical vapors that are inhaled to induce a psychoactive or mind-altering effect.  Examples include nitrites (poppers), solvents (paint thinner), glues, spray paints, lighter fluids, and fuels.

These are the most destructive of all psychoactive substances.  They routinely cause brain, lung, and liver damage. 

IN-PATIENT TREATMENT

Admission to a hospital or facility for treatment that requires at least one overnight stay and typically requires medical management.

INTENSIVE OUTPATIENT TREATMENT

A time limited, intensive, non-residential clinical treatment that often involves participation in several hours of clinical services several days per week.  Also referred to as an intensive outpatient program, or IOP.  Some versions of this treatment are voluntary, while sometimes this treatment is court-ordered.

INTOXICATION

A condition that follows the administration of a psychoactive substance and results in disturbances in the level of consciousness, cognition, perception, judgement, affect, or behavior, or other psychophysiological functions and responses.

The term is most frequently used regarding alcohol use, also referred to as being drunk.

Intoxication is highly dependent on the type and dose of drug and is influenced by an individual's level of tolerance and other factors. Frequently, a drug is taken in order to achieve a desired degree of intoxication.  How intoxication is expressed is highly individualized, but is influenced by experience with the drug, cultural beliefs and expectations and personal expectations about the effects of the drug.

INTRAMUSCULAR INJECTION

An injection technique used to deliver a medication deep into the muscles. This allows the medication to be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly.  Sometimes referred to as IM.

This method is used for both licit and illicit substances.

Some of injection related health effects include, contraction of disease, track marks, skin infections and endocarditis.

INTRAVENOUS INJECTION

Intravenous means into the vein.  The drug is sent directly into your vein using a needle or tube. Also referred to as IV. 

This method is used for both licit and illicit substances.

Some of injection related health effects include, contraction of disease, collapsed veins, track marks, skin infections and endocarditis.

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J

JELLINEK'S TYPOLOGY

Jellinek created a classification of alcoholism, as outlined in The Disease Concept of Alcoholism (1960).  The significance of his work was that he conceived varieties of alcohol problems as opposed to the conceptualization of alcoholism as one 'giant' disorder.

Although the Jellinek curve is relatively well known, it was created by G. Maxwell Glatt and not Jellinek himself.  The Jellinek curve presents the 5 types as a progression (a U-shaped depiction), which really misses the main point of Jellinek’s findings.  The Jellinek curve only depicts the Gamma alcoholism type.

  1. Alpha alcoholism –characterized by psychological dependence, with no progression to physiological dependence; also called problem drinking, escape drinking.

  2. Beta alcoholism—characterized by physical complications involving one or more organ systems, with a general undermining of health and shortened life span.

  3. Gamma alcoholism—characterized by increasing tolerance, loss of control, and precipitation of a withdrawal syndrome on cessation of alcohol intake

  4. Delta alcoholism-characterized by increasing tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and inability to abstain, but not loss of control of the amount of intake on any occasion.

  5. Epsilon alcoholism--periodic drinking, binge drinking.

 

Jellinek’s writing from 1960 is often considered more forward thinking and relevant than many of the writings from the past few decades.

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K

KHAT

A mild stimulant from a leafy plant in East Africa and Southern Saudi Arabia.  Cathinone is the active ingredient and methcathinone is a synthetic form of khat.  It is a stimulant with effects similar to amphetamines. Heavy use can result in dependence and physical and mental problems resembling those produced by other stimulants.

KRATOM

The leaves of the kratom tree in Thailand have been traditionally used for the treatment of pain, diarrhea, and coughing.  In recent years it has gained popularity as a treatment for opioid dependence.  Kratom is classified as an opioid.  Its safety and use for opioid dependence are still being debated.

KORSAKOFF'S SYNDROME

A chronic memory disorder associated with amnesia, caused by a severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1).  It is mostly associated with severe alcohol use disorder. (See Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome)

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L

LONG TERM RECOVERY

5 years of continued remission.  The point at which the risk of meeting criteria for a substance use disorder in the following year is no greater than that of the general population.

LYSERGIC ACID DIETHYLAMIDE (LSD)

It is a serotonin-related hallucinogen.  LSD is considered the best known and most widely used hallucinogen.  It can cause changes in perception, including hallucinations.  Other reported feelings include anxiety and fear, a positive expansion of the mind and feelings of wellbeing.  Nausea is common as is numbness, muscle weakness and pupil dilation. Synesthesia may occur.

Typical doses are between 50-150 micrograms.  It is generally dissolved in liquid and then absorbed onto blotter paper.  There are no other drugs that are potent enough to be used in this form. 

LSD does not cause psychotic episodes but can trigger psychosis in vulnerable people.

LSD is commonly referred to as acid. The experience of being on LSD is referred to as tripping. (See hallucinogen, microdosing).

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M

MARIJUANA

(See cannabis, THC)

MEDICATION ASSISTED DETOX

Detoxification in a medical setting, often with use of medications to support initial withdrawal and stabilization following cessation of alcohol or other drugs.  (See detoxification)

MEDICATION ASSISTED TREATMENT

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is considered a form of harm reduction.  MAT programs administer drugs to assist people in stopping illegal and/or harmful drugs.  Many people find that MAT programs cost less (than drugs), see improved health, provide support and stability, and typically combine therapy and/or case management.

Many have a negative view of MAT programs, seeing them as simply replacing one drug for another.  Like any treatment, MAT has some drawbacks, but remains an important treatment option for many people.

Currently, MAT is only available for opioids (methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone) and alcohol (naltrexone).

(See methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and Sinclair method.)

METHADONE

A synthetic opioid used in maintenance therapy for those dependent on opioids.  It has a long half-life and can be taken orally once daily. It generally comes in liquid or diskette form, which is dissolved into water or juice.

It is used to reduce withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal symptoms and is often used as a mid- to long-term opioid use disorder medication for helping stabilize and facilitate recovery among those suffering from opioid use disorders.

When taking an appropriate, stable dose, individuals will not feel the effects of opioids if they take them in conjunction with the methadone, nor does the methadone produce a high.  It provides some pain relief, and is sometimes prescribed to chronic pain patients.  There are very few health risks associated with methadone (if taken as prescribed) and it is safe for pregnant women and those breast feeding.

Methadone is legal and is prescribed under the care of a doctor.

 

METHAMPHETAMINES

Meth as it is commonly known is a synthetically produced stimulant that activates the reward centers of the brain to produce sensations of euphoria, increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, faster breathing, rapid and/or irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.

Since meth restricts blood flow to capillaries, dental problems and gum deterioration can be problematic. Stimulants can also cause psychotic symptoms during prolonged use or in vulnerable people due to the dopamine release. Repetitive movements, which are often self-destructive (such as skin picking), often accompany frequent use.

There is risk of overamping and overdose.

MICRODOSING

In recent years, microdosing of Psilocybin mushrooms, LSD and DMT has been gaining in popularity. Although there is no definitive amount for microdosing, most people follow the 1/10 or 1/20 of the standard dose guideline—though this is dependent on the drug and the user experience with it.

It is believed that microdosing allows some benefit of the psychedelic, but without the accompanying impairment of a full dose. Proponents of microdosing claim improvements in well-being and the enhancement of cognitive or emotional processes.  Some studies have produced findings of improved convergent and divergent thinking.

Even with a microdose, users are not guaranteed a positive experience and some have reported increases in anxiety and discomfort.

Microdosing is considered a developing area, and likely more research will be available in the coming years on both the short-term and long-term benefits and risks.

MODERATE DRINKING

Moderate or low-risk drinking is a drinking pattern in which negative outcomes, or the development of an alcohol use disorder are severely diminished.

Exact amounts vary by site and source.  However, the following should provide a reasonable range for most adults.  (Note: this is a generality and does not take into consideration other factors such as medical problems, medications being taken, etc.)

  1. For women, moderate drinking is 1-3 alcoholic drinks per day, with no more than 7 per week.  

  2. For men, moderate drinking is 1-4 alcoholic drinks per day, with no more than 14 per week.

 

MOOD DISORDER

A general term that usually implies your emotional state or mood is distorted or inconsistent with your circumstances.  A mood disorder will often interfere with your ability to function.  You may feel empty, irritable, extremely sad, or even excessively happy.

Although there are many specific diagnoses that fall under the umbrella of mood disorders, the most common are depression and bipolar disorder.

Anxiety disorders can also affect your mood and often occur along with depression. Mood disorders may increase risk of suicide.

 

MOTIVATIONAL INTERVIEWING

Developed by William Miller, it is a clinical approach that helps people with mental health, substance use disorders and other chronic conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular conditions, make positive behavioral changes to support better health by helping them to explore and resolve ambivalence about changes.  Motivational interviewing takes a collaborative, rather than confrontational approach.

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N

NALOXONE

An opioid receptor blocker that antagonizes the actions of opioid drugs. It reverses the features of opioid intoxication and is prescribed for the treatment of overdose with this group of drugs.  It is considered a form of harm reduction

Naloxone is safe and easy to administer.  It comes in injection and nasal spray form.  It has saved countless lives.  It only works for the reversal of opioid overdoses (heroin, OxyContin, fentanyl, etc.).  It is not harmful to an individual if they have not taken opiates.

Naloxone is often sold under the brand name, Narcan and is easy to obtain in most states.  Many outreach programs provide it for free, and often it is covered by insurance.

NALTREXONE

An opioid antagonist, it works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, without activating them, therefore blocking the effects of opioids. Essentially when used for opioids the pleasurable sensations are diminished and subsequently so is the desire to use.

There are similar results when used for people with an alcohol use disorder. Naltrexone also suppresses the euphoria associated with alcohol, and people no longer receive a “reward” for drinking.

Naltrexone is usually given in pill form.  A long-lasting injectable has come to market, Vivitrol; it is administered monthly.  (See depot injection, medication assisted treatment, Sinclair Method).

 NARCOTIC

A chemical agent that induces stupor, coma, and decreases sensitivity to pain. The term usually refers to opiates or opioids (morphine, heroin, hydrocodone), which are called narcotic analgesics.

In everyday language and legal usage, ‘narcotic’ is often used imprecisely to mean illicit drugs, irrespective of their pharmacology. For example, narcotics control legislation in Canada, USA, and certain other countries includes cocaine and cannabis as well as opioids, i.e. narcotics officer.

NATURAL RECOVERY

A common recovery pathway in which remission from substance use disorder is achieved without the support or services of professional support or treatment. Also known as self-managed recovery.

NEUROTRANSMITTER

Brain chemicals that communicate information throughout the body by transmitting signals from one neuron to the next across synapses. Most drugs either stimulate or suppress the activity of neurotransmitters.  Drugs will mimic, expand, lessen, or bind to these neurotransmitters.

There are over 100 different neurotransmitters, but only about 8 that are affected by drugs.  They are: dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), GABA, glutamate, serotonin, endorphins, Anandamide and 2AG and acetylcholine.

NICOTINE

Nicotine belongs to its own drug class though it has stimulant properties.  In high concentrations, it is toxic.  Nicotine is an alkaloid and is the major psychoactive substance in tobacco.  60 mg is enough to kill an adult, but cigarettes only contain 0.5-2 mg, only about 20% of which is ingested while smoking.  (Slightly more is ingested while chewing or snuffing).

When smoked, nicotine goes from the lungs, to the blood, then the brain.  In the brain it stimulates nicotinic receptors (acetylcholine neurotransmitters).  These release dopamine and increase activity in areas of the brain associated with memory and movement.  This rapid combination makes nicotine very reinforcing. Considerable tolerance and dependence develop to nicotine.

Because of its rapid metabolism, brain levels of nicotine fall rapidly and the smoker experiences craving for another cigarette 30-40 minutes after finishing the last one.

In the nicotine user who has become physically dependent, a withdrawal syndrome develops within a few hours of the last dose: craving for a smoke, irritability, anxiety, anger, impaired concentration, increased appetite, decreased heart rate, and sometimes headaches and sleep disturbances. Craving peaks at 24 hours and then declines over a period of several weeks, although it may be evoked by stimuli associated with previous smoking habits.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death, in the US and the world.

NODDING OUT

Nodding out is a slang term for the early stages of depressant-induced sleep. Opioids (heroin, OxyContin) and sedative-hypnotics (benzodiazepines) induce depression of the central nervous system, causing mental and behavioral activity to become sluggish. As the nervous system becomes profoundly depressed, symptoms may range from sleepiness to coma and death. Typically, “nodding out” refers to fading in and out of a sleepy state.

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O

OPIATE

One of a group of alkaloids derived from the opium poppy, with the ability to reduce pain, induce euphoria, and, in higher doses may cause stupor, coma, and respiratory depression. Examples include heroin and morphine. The term opiate excludes synthetic opioids.

OPIOID

A family of drugs used therapeutically to treat pain, that also produce a sensation of euphoria and are naturally derived from the opium poppy plant (see opiate) or synthetically or semi-synthetically produced in a lab to act like an opiate, such as oxycodone.

Over time, opioids induce tolerance and neuroadaptive changes that are responsible for rebound hyperexcitability when the drug is withdrawn. The withdrawal syndrome includes craving, anxiety, dysphoria, yawning, sweating, goosebumps, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, muscle aches, and fever.

With short-acting drugs such as morphine or heroin, withdrawal symptoms may appear within 8-12 hours of the last dose of the drug, reach a peak at 48-72 hours, and clear after 7-10 days. With longer-acting drugs such as methadone, onset of withdrawal symptoms may not occur until 1-3 days after the last dose; symptoms peak between 3-8 days and may persist for several weeks, but are generally milder than those that follow morphine or heroin withdrawal after equivalent doses.

Opioid overdose is reversible with the use of naloxone.

OPIUM

The preparation of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum.  Opium farmers cut the seedpod from the poppy and collect the sticky fluid that seeps from the cut.  The sap may be dried into a ball (gum opium) or dried and pounded into a powder (powder opium). 

Opium poppies provide the starting material for heroin.  Most opium poppy farms are located Southeast Asia, Mexico, Colombia, and Afghanistan. 

OVERDOSE

The use of any drug in such an amount that acute adverse physical or mental effects are produced. Deliberate overdose is a common means of suicide and attempted suicide.

In absolute numbers, overdoses of licit drugs are usually more common than those of illicit drugs. Overdose may produce transient or lasting effects, or death; the lethal dose of a drug varies with the person and their individual circumstances.

Commonly referred to as OD.

OXYCODONE

An analgesic opioid semi-synthetically produced for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, that activates the reward centers of the brain to provide pain relief.   It is synthesized from thebaine, a chemical in opium.  It ranks between morphine and codeine in its effectiveness against pain.

Side effects include constipation, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, sleepiness, drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, itching, headache, blurred vision, dry mouth, sweating, changes in heart rate, and trouble breathing.

Also known as OxyContin or Percocet.  The aggressive marketing of OxyContin helped lead to the opioid crisis.

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P

PARANOIA

A type of delusion, or false idea, that is unchanged by reasoned argument or proof to the contrary. Clinical paranoia involves the delusion that people or events are in some way specially related to oneself. People who are paranoid may believe that others are talking about them, plotting devious plans about them, or planning to hurt them.

Paranoia often occurs during episodes of high-dose chronic stimulant use (methamphetamines) and may occur during withdrawal from sedative-hypnotics such as alcohol.

PERSON-FIRST LANGUAGE

A linguistic prescription structuring sentences to name the person first and the condition or disease from which they suffer, second. It is recommended to use “person first” language; instead of describing someone as an “addict”.

Person-first language articulates that the disease is a secondary attribute and not the primary characteristic of the individual’s identity.  For example, rather than saying alcoholic, we might say, a person with alcohol use disorder.

Note: this applies to issues other than substance use.  A person with diabetes, instead of a diabetic.  Someone has schizophrenia, rather than being schizophrenic.

PHARMACOTHERAPY

Medical treatment by means of medications.

POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

The essential feature of posttraumatic stress disorder is the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to one or more traumatic events.  Some examples may include, abuse, physical attack, sexual attack, natural or man-made disasters, severe motor vehicle accidents, or being witness to serious injury, attack, death, or abuse.

The clinical presentation varies from person to person.  Some common features include re-experiencing (of the event), dysphoric mood, hyperarousal, or dissociative symptoms. 

PTSD is classified under trauma and stressor related disorders in the DSM-5.

PROHIBITION

Policy under which the cultivation, manufacture, and/or sale (and sometimes the use) of a psychoactive drug are forbidden (although pharmaceutical sales are usually permitted).

The term applies particularly to alcohol, notably in relation to the period of national interdiction of alcohol sales in the US, from 1919-1933.

PSILOCYBIN

A hallucinogenic mushroom, similar to LSD in the experience, but milder.  The second most frequently used hallucinogen in the US, after LSD.  A typical dose is 4-10 mg, though much less when used for microdosing. 

At low doses, it may cause feelings of relaxation, physical heaviness or lightness, and perceptual distortions.  Higher doses induce more physical sensations such as, numbness, nausea, and anxiety. 

Also commonly referred to as magic mushrooms or shrooms. (See hallucinogen, microdosing, tripping).

PSYCHEDELIC 

(See hallucinogen)

PSYCHOACTIVE DRUG

A drug that crosses the blood-brain barrier to cause alterations in mood, perception or brain function.  Examples include prescribed medications, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

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Q

QUAALUDE

Methaqualone (brand name Quaalude) is a central nervous system depressant that acts as a sedative and hypnotic.  Its effects include drowsiness, and reduced heart rate and respiration. An overdose of the drug, which is highly addictive, can cause coma and death.

In the 1960s, the drug was prescribed as a sedative mostly in Britain and later caught on as a sleep aid in the United States in the 1970s.  Quaaludes became popular for recreational use in the late 1960s and 1970s. They were frequently called ludes or lemons.

Congress banned domestic production of the drug and its sales as a prescription, and President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation into law in 1984.

Although they have not been available in the US for almost 30 years, they retain pop culture relevance.

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R

RECOVERY

The process of improved physical, psychological, and social well-being and health after having suffered from a substance use disorder.

RECREATIONAL USE 

Use of a drug, usually an illicit drug, in sociable or relaxing circumstances, by implication without dependence or other problems. The term is disfavored by those seeking to define all illicit drug use as a problem.  However, in terms of alcohol, this is usually described as “social drinking.”

RELAPSE (LAPSE)*

A return to drinking or other drug use after a period, of abstinence (remission), often accompanied by reinstatement of dependence symptoms. Some writers distinguish between relapse and lapse ("slip"), with the latter denoting an isolated occasion of alcohol or drug use

 

The highest risk for recurrence of substance use disorder symptoms occurs during the first 90 days after ceasing use. Individuals attempting to recover from substance use disorder need the most intensive support during this first 3-month period, as individuals are experiencing substantial physiological, psychological, and social changes during this early recovery phase. There is typically a greater sensitivity to stress and lowered sensitivity to reward that makes continued recovery challenging.

 

This term has a stigma associated with it, as it can imply a moral failing for some people. Instead it may be preferable to use morally neutral terms such as “resumed,” or experienced a “recurrence” of symptoms.

RELAPSE PREVENTION

A set of therapeutic procedures employed in the case of alcohol or other drug problems to help individuals avoid or cope with recurrences of substance use. The procedures may be used with treatment based on either moderation or abstinence, and in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches.

 

Individuals are taught coping strategies that can be used to avoid situations considered dangerous precipitants of relapse, and shown, through mental rehearsal and other techniques, how to curtail continued use once there has been a recurrence.

RISK FACTORS

Attributes (genetics), characteristics (impulsivity) or exposures (prescription opioids) that increases the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder.  Risk factors are also used for disease or injury.

ROUTE OF ADMINISTRATION

Refers to the various ways that drugs are taken.  They include, oral, smoking, intravenous (IV) injection, subcutaneous injection, intramuscular (IM), injection, mucous membranes and topical/transdermal.

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S

SEDATIVE/HYPNOTIC

A group of central nervous system depressants with the capacity of relieving anxiety and inducing calmness and sleep. Some of these drugs also induce amnesia and muscle relaxation and/or have anticonvulsant properties. Major classes include the benzodiazepines and barbiturates.

All sedatives/hypnotics may impair concentration, memory, and coordination; other frequent effects are hangover, slurred speech, unsteady gait, drowsiness, dry mouth, decreased gastrointestinal motility, and lability of mood. A paradoxical reaction of excitement or rage may be produced occasionally.

Individuals treated over a long period can become psychologically and physically dependent on the drug even if they never exceed the prescribed dose. Withdrawal reactions can be severe and may occur after no more than several weeks of moderate use of a sedative/hypnotic or anxiolytic drug.

Symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, irritability, insomnia (often with nightmares), nausea or vomiting, tachycardia, sweating, hallucinatory misperceptions, muscle cramps, tremors and myoclonic twitches, hyperreflexia, and seizures.

SELF-COMPASSION

Self-compassion is a positive attitude toward yourself.  It also means being able to relate to yourself in capacities that are accepting, forgiving, and loving when situations might be less than ideal.

SHAME

A painful, negative emotion, which can be caused or exacerbated by conduct that violates personal values. Can also stem from deeply held beliefs that one is somehow flawed and unworthy of love, support, and connection, leading to increased odds of isolation.

Shame is often a barrier to seeking support and/or treatment for substance use disorders

SINCLAIR METHOD

The Sinclair Method for alcohol use disorders is an evidence-based treatment for problematic drinking developed by Dr. John D. Sinclair. Unlike traditional treatments that require complete abstinence from alcohol, the Sinclair Method allows you to continue drinking alcohol at the beginning of treatment.

Treatment success depends on the continued consumption of alcohol in combination with the prescription medication naltrexone.  When you take naltrexone prior to drinking, it blocks endorphins, the naturally occurring opiates in the brain, from being released when alcohol is consumed.

When the endorphins are blocked, there is no “buzz” or rewarding experience, and the alcohol doesn’t make you feel the pleasure that drives you to drink excessively.  Over time, your brain learns not to associate alcohol with pleasure, resulting in reduced cravings and improved control over alcohol use.  

 

Naltrexone must be taken at least one hour before your first drink.  (See naltrexone).

SLEEP HYGIENE

Sleep hygiene refers to maintaining practices that are conducive to getting a good night’s sleep, as well as reducing sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep).

      

SOBER

A state in which one is not intoxicated or affected by the use of alcohol or drugs.

SOBRIETY

The quality or state of being sober. 

STIGMA

An attribute, behavior, or condition that is socially discrediting. Known to decrease treatment seeking behaviors in individuals with substance use disorders.  A stigma can be a source of shame or embarrassment.

STIMULANT

A psychoactive substance that increases or arouses physiologic or nervous system activity in the body. A stimulant will typically increase alertness, attention, and energy through a corresponding increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rates.  They may also cause unusual behavior such as, fighting, grandiosity, hypervigilance, agitation, and impaired judgement.  The effects vary based on type of stimulant taken, the amount, and individual characteristics.

Cessation of intake after prolonged or heavy use may produce a withdrawal syndrome, with depressed mood, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and increased dreaming.

Examples of stimulants include amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine, and nicotine.  Also called uppers.

SUBOXONE

Approved by the FDA in 2002 as a medication treatment for opioid dependence, Suboxone contains the active ingredients of buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone. The mixture of agonist and antagonist is intended to reduce craving while preventing misuse of the medication.

Suboxone is a sublingual (under the tongue) film.  (See buprenorphine, medication assisted treatment).

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

A term sometimes used to describe an array of problems resulting from intensive use of psychoactive substances.  The term was a diagnostic label in previous editions of the DSM.

SUBSTANCE MISUSE

The use of a substance for unintended or intended purposes in improper amounts or doses.  Some people believe it implies negative judgement and blame, while others prefer it because it is more neutral than “abuse” and less stigmatizing than “disorder”.

SUBSTANCE USE

The act of using substances. 

SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER

The clinical term describing the diagnosis for drug and alcohol related issues in the DSM-5.   Experiencing two or more of the signs and symptoms in a 12- month period may indicate the presence of a substance use disorder

A substance use disorder can be diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe depending upon the number of signs/symptoms experienced.

SUSTAINED REMISSION

Someone who once met diagnostic criteria for an alcohol or other drug use disorder, and then no longer meets the threshold for the disorder for at least 1 year.

SYNERGISTIC EFFECT

An effect caused by the interaction of two or more substances that magnifies the effect to be greater than the sum of each substance’s individual effects.

For example, the combination of opioids and benzodiazepines have a synergistic effect, making the combination dangerous.

SYNTHETIC

Made synthetically or entirely from chemicals, and not made as a derivative of the original substance or plant (opium poppy, marijuana plant, etc.)

Examples of synthetic drugs include: fentanyl, K2 and bath salts.

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T

TAPER

A practice in pharmacotherapy of lowering the dose of medication incrementally over time to help prevent or reduce any adverse experiences as the patients’ body makes adjustments and adapts to lower and lower doses.

TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL (THC)

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most potent of the 400 active ingredients in the cannabis plant.  THC receptors are found mostly in the hippocampus, which controls new memory formation, in the cerebellum and basal ganglia, which coordinate fine motor movements and the nucleus accumbens which contains dopamine.

The psychoactive effects can last a few hours.  When smoked, it moves from lungs to heart to brain a few seconds and peaks within 10-20 minutes.  When eaten, it goes through the liver first, so it can take an hour to feel the effect. 

Psychoactive potency can vary drastically in the THC content.  Low-grade marijuana is made from the leaves of both sexes of the plant; the result is very little THC.  Medium-grade marijuana is made from the dried flowering tops of female plants and fertilized by male plants.  High-grade marijuana is made from the flowering tops (cola) of female plants and raised in isolation from male plants.  The resulting marijuana is called sinsemilla (without seeds).

The potency, the circumstances and the individual characteristics of the user all influence the “type” of high and the effect on a person.

(See cannabis).

TOLERANCE

A normal neurobiological adaptation process characterized by the brain’s attempt to accommodate abnormally high exposure to a drug. Tolerance results in a need to increase the dosage of a drug overtime to obtain the same original effect obtained at a lower dose. A state in which a substance produces a diminishing biological or behavioral response.

Tolerance is one of the criteria for both a substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder.

TOUGH LOVE*

A controversial approach to promotion of behavioral change through love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern, unsentimental and/or punitive manner.

First used in 1976, the term “tough love” was not applied to the addiction model until the 1980's, when David and Phyllis York wrote Toughlove. In the book, the authors outline a view of rehabilitation techniques parents should use with their addicted children that relies on consequences ranging from mild to severe such as: taking legal custody of the children of the individual with substance use disorder, refusal to provide financial assistance, asking the individual to leave the home, or refusing to provide bail money or legal assistance.

Tough love is often a reaction of anger and frustration.  It is also more punishment than strategy and does not tend to work well.  The primary reason that it is often ineffective is that the point is to control another person’s behavior.

Limits and boundaries are important when dealing with a loved one with a substance use disorder.  However, limits and boundaries work best when they are about what you need/want, rather than what you think will make someone change.

Professional support can be helpful in finding the balance. 

TREATMENT

The management and care of a person to combat problems associated with alcohol and drugs. Treatment may include medicine, or medical intervention, therapy, or other modalities.

TRIGGER

A specific stimulus that sets off a memory or flashback, transporting the individual back to a feeling, experience, or event which may increase susceptibility to psychological or physical symptom recurrence and reinstatement of substance use disorder.

A trigger can be a person, place, smell, song, etc.  

TRIPPING

Slang term for being under the influence of hallucinogens.  Tripping is used most commonly to describe having taken psilocybin mushrooms or LSD.

A bad trip is taking a hallucinogen and having a negative experience such as anxiety, nausea and other discomforts.

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U

UPPERS

Slang term used to describe drugs that are central nervous system stimulants. Examples include cocaine, caffeine, and methamphetamines.

URGE SURFING

Remaining still and concentrating on an urge rather than avoiding it.  Urges (cravings) typically last around 20 minutes.  In the ocean, one cannot escape the waves, rather people must learn to understand them and ride them. 

In urge surfing, one attempts to sit with the craving and try to understand what the urge really is.

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V

VALIUM

Valium is a benzodiazepine, classified as a sedative.  The generic name is diazepam.  (See benzodiazepines).

VAPING

Vaping refers to the act of “smoking” an electronic device, a vape pen.  Sometimes called ENDS (electronic nictotine delivery system) or e-cigarette.

Originally developed for smoking cessation, with the idea they might be better than patches or gum since they allow the user to continue the act of “smoking”. 

There is a huge variety of vaping products and the quality of the chemicals used varies widely amongst the suppliers.  The American Cancer Society has requested more studies regarding their application as a smoking cessation aid.

The research into these products and their long-term effects is still new and very often split.

VICODIN

A semi-synthetic opioid used to treat pain.  Generic name is hydrocodone.  (See opioid).

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W

WERNICKE-KORSAKOFF SYNDROME

The co-occurrence of Wernicke’s Encephalopathy simultaneously with Korsakoff syndrome. Encephalopathy typically precedes Korsakoff’s Psychosis and can be prevented via administration of vitamin B-1 (Thiamin); if missed, onset results in permanent neurological damage.

Also known as wet-brain.

WITHDRAWAL

Physical, cognitive, and affective symptoms that occur after chronic use of a drug is reduced abruptly or stopped among individuals who have developed tolerance to a drug.

The withdrawal process varies based both on the substance and individual circumstances.

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X

XANAX

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, classified as a sedative.  The generic name is alprazolam.  (See benzodiazepines).

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Y

YAGE

(See ayahuasca).

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Z

ZERO TOLERANCE

Usually refers to zero tolerance for drug use or relapse while in a treatment program. 

Also used in criminal justice and school sports.

ZOOPSIA

Seeing animals (e.g. snakes, insects), typically as part of delirium tremens or other substance-induced or hallucinatory state.

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Sources

Web sources

 

1. American Psychological Association, Family Members of Adults with Substance Abuse Problems.  Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/practice-settings/intervention/substance-abuse

2. American Society of Addiction Medicine; Definition of Addiction.  Retrieved from: https://www.asam.org/Quality-Science/definition-of-addiction

3. Begley, S. (2018). Scientists are Starting to Test Claims about ‘Microdosing’.  Scientific American, online article.  Retrieved from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-are-starting-to-test-claims-about-microdosing/

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alcohol and Public Health; Binge Drinking.  Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

5. Frecska, E., Bokor, P., & Winkelman, M. (2016).  The Therapeutic Potentials of Ayahuasca: Possible Effects against Various Diseases of Civilization. Frontiers in Pharmacology, Volume 7. (Issue 35).  Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773875/

6. Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms published by the World Health Organization.  Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/substance_abuse/terminology/who_lexicon/en/

7. NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Information; Appendix C: Glossary of Terms.  Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64200/

8. PBS Newshour, What are Quaaludes and how do they work?  Retrieved from: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/what-are-quaaludes

9. Recovery Research Institute, ADDICTIONARY®.  Retrieved from: https://www.recoveryanswers.org/addiction-ary/

10. Sinclair Method.org, What is the Sinclair Method? Retrieved from: https://www.sinclairmethod.org/what-is-the-sinclair-method/

11.Stanford University, Office of Alcohol Policy and Education; What is BAC? Retrieved from: https://alcohol.stanford.edu/alcohol-drug-info/buzz-buzz/what-bac

12. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Medication Assisted Treatment, Methadone.  Retrieved from: https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/methadone

13. The Harm Reduction Therapy Center, Mission Statement; Retrieved from: https://harmreductiontherapy.org/helping-harm-reduction-therapy/

14.Trib Talk, A Publication of the Texas Tribune, Texas misses chance to prevent overdose deaths.  Retrieved from: https://www.tribtalk.org/2019/06/07/texas-misses-chance-to-prevent-overdose-

deaths/#:~:text=The%20recent%20conclusion%20of%20the,assistance%20for%20a%20suspected%20overdose.

15.U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Diversion Control Division; Controlled Substance Schedules.  Retrieved from:

https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/

 

Print Sources

1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.

2. Denning, P., & Little, J. (2017). Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide to Controlling Your Drug and Alcohol Use. The Guilford Press.

 

3.Kuhn, C., Swartzwelder, S., & Wilson, W. (2019). Buzzed: The Straight Facts about the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy. W.W. Norton & Company.

 

4. Van Wormer, K. & Davis, D.R. (2013). Addiction Treatment, A Strength’s Perspective. 3rd. Ed. Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning, California.

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