In order to reduce the stigma of addiction, we must choose our words carefully. Medical professionals around the world have categorized addiction as a disease. Like other diseases, there are hereditary and environmental factors associated with the disease. However, unlike other diseases, victims of addiction – and their loved ones – are forced to cope with the stigma as well as the disease. This can negatively influence the seeking of treatment, remaining hopeful in recovery, or discovering one’s life purpose. Research has shown that using words like “addict” or “drug abuser” actually increases stigma and can result in harmful treatment by health care providers and others. On the other hand, an individual with a “substance use disorder” describes one problem vs. an entire identity.

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

A (back to top)

Not using alcohol or drugs. Refraining from further use.

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA)
A support group for adult children of alcoholics.

A stigmatizing slang term for an individual with an addictive disorder.

Addiction is a chronic, brain disease that is characterized by compulsive substance-seeking, despite harmful consequences. By definition, it is not controllable or a “choice” – except perhaps the first usage. It is considered a brain disease, because of the impact on the brain informally known as the pleasure center. The disease often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or recovery efforts, substance addiction is progressive – making it harder and harder to stop – and can result in disability and/or premature death. There is some evidence that the same brain circuits involved in substance addiction also may be involved in other compulsive behaviors or what is sometimes called “behavioral addictions.” (sex, gambling, overeating, overworking, etc.)

Addiction Assessment
A way to determine the prevalence of chemical dependency in a client or the extent of one’s addiction. (considers sociological, psychological, physical, and family factors, etc.)

Addiction Counselor
A type of addiction treatment provider. Counselors may have different titles and required levels of education and training depending on where they practice. They typically provide group and individual counseling, but are not medical professionals and cannot provide medication needed to treat some forms of addiction and other health conditions.

Addiction Cycle
Addiction cycle, or cycle of addiction, refers to the circular pattern characteristic of addiction. While there are many different types of addiction – alcohol, substance abuse, and behavioral addictions – the addiction cycle is common to each of them. It consists of phases, which may, depending on the type of addiction, be short or long in duration, and generally progress in a repetitive pattern unless treatment is taken and proves effective. Some addiction treatment experts group the phases as changes in thought processes or changes in dealing with life and others, leading to physical and mental breakdown. Others take a more in-depth approach to the phases of the addiction cycle, singling out anxiety as the cycle trigger, followed by ingestion of the substance, temporary relief, euphoria, reduction of pain and anxiety, improved social changes, feeling of power, dissolution of limits, reduction of effects, problem recognition, and stress.

Addiction Medicine Physician
A physician who is board-certified in some specialty (e.g., family medicine, pediatrics, neurology) and who has specialized training in addiction diagnosis, treatment, and management. They typically do not provide addiction-specific therapy or counseling but may work in collaboration with other health care providers who do.

Addiction Psychiatrist
A physician who is board-certified as a psychiatrist and who has specialized training in addiction diagnosis, treatment, and management. Addiction psychiatrists can provide therapy, although most emphasize medications and work in collaboration with social workers, psychologists, or counselors who provide the therapies.

Addiction Treatment
Aims to reduce addiction by addressing the physical and emotional needs of the patient, including coping skills, as well as the addiction. Individual and group counseling are a common component. An initial, medically-supervised detoxification process may be needed, with a requirement of stopping usage.

Addictive Personality
A trait/traits that some believe develops in response to drug use and/or predisposes one to addiction.

Adverse Reaction
A detrimental reaction to a drug. (not the desired reaction)

The strength a drug has that allows it to bind to its receptor.

Age at Onset
The age at which one’s addictive behavior began; an important factor in addiction assessment.

A chemical substance or drug that activates a receptor in the brain. It binds to and activates certain receptors on cells, causing a biological response. Fentanyl and methadone are examples of opioid receptor agonists.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
A voluntary program concerned with helping alcoholics with recovery and continued sobriety.

Plant-produced organic compounds that are the active ingredients in many drugs.

A behavioral stimulant; also known as pep pills.

A chemical substance that can nullify another’s effects by binding to and blocking the activation of certain receptors on cells, preventing a biological response. Naloxone is an example of an opioid receptor antagonist. Naloxone is the drug that’s in both Narcan® – the overdose antidote – and Vivitrol®, which is used to eliminate the urge to use opioids or alcohol.

Stands for Alcohol and Other Drugs.

Stands for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.

An evaluation of a person’s medical, psychological and substance use history, current health status, symptoms of addiction, potential withdrawal syndrome and related health conditions. This helps to formulate a treatment plan. It should be performed by a qualified health professional.

B (back to top)

A class of sedative-hypnotic drugs that work on the central nervous system and make people feel very relaxed, calm, and sleepy.

Behavioral Health
A term often used in place of the term “mental health” to distinguish mental health and addiction from other physical health conditions.

Behavior Modification Therapy
Also referred to as “behavioral therapy”, “behavior modification” or “applied behavior analysis” – is a form of psychotherapy that involves reducing or eliminating behaviors and habits that are destructive, unhealthy, or undesirable and learning or increasing more appropriate behaviors. It is based on the premise that we are all shaped or “conditioned” by our environment.

A group of depressants used to induce sleep, prevent seizures, produce sedation, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, etc. All benzodiazepines cause excessive sedation when combined with other medications that slow the brain’s processes. (for example, alcohol, barbiturates, narcotics, and tranquilizers)

Binge Drinking
For men, drinking 5 or more standard alcoholic drinks, and for women, 4 or more standard alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.

A drug’s ability to enter the body.

A type of behavioral medicine used by both medical and mental health practitioners to help their patients learn how to reduce troubling symptoms via self-regulation. Biofeedback therapy teaches you how to use your mind to control physiological reactions that accompany, signal, and/or worsen various conditions.

Brief Intervention
Brief interventions are provided by trained health care provider to individuals who screen positive for risky substance use, some forms of substance abuse and nicotine addiction. They help patients reduce use by providing feedback about the extent and effects of substances, enhancing motivation to change behavior, and offering recommendations for how to do so. Brief interventions can be conducted face-to-face, over the phone or through computerized feedback to the individual. An intervention is considered “brief” when it only involves 1-3 sessions or lasts 5-15 minutes.

Blood Alcohol Level/Concentration
The concentration level of alcohol in the bloodstream. (expressed as a percentage by weight)

A semi-synthetic partial agonist opioid medicine similar to morphine, codeine, and heroin. It targets the same places in the brain that opioids do. It relieves drug cravings without giving you the same high as other opioid drugs and can prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, it is used to help treat addiction to opioid drugs, including heroin and narcotic painkillers. Buprenorphine can cause side effects similar to other opioids and can also cause physical dependence. It is sold under the brand name Subutex. Combined with Naloxone, the brand name is Suboxone®.

C (back to top)

An alkaloid that acts as a diuretic and a stimulant. (found in coffee, tea, etc.)

A version of the synthetic opioid analgesic fentanyl. A unit of carfentanil is 100 times as potent as the same amount of fentanyl, 5,000 times as potent as a unit of heroin and 10,000 times as potent as a unit of morphine. Used in veterinary practices to immobilize large animals, like elephants.

Case Management
A coordinated approach to delivering health care, substance use disorder treatment, mental health care, and social services. This approach links clients with appropriate services and resources to address specific needs and goals.

Casual Factors
Various antecedent conditions that lead to individual chemical dependency problems. (e.g. conditioning, environment, genetics, etc.)

Ceiling Effect
Occurs when the dosage of buprenorphine is increased beyond maximum levels and no differences result.

Central Nervous System (CNS)
The brain and spinal cord.

Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor (CCDC)
Manages clients in chemical dependency programs to help with addiction recovery.

Chronic liver disease.

Clinical Decision Support
A system that provides health care professionals, staff, patients, or other individuals with knowledge and person-specific information, intelligently altered or presented at appropriate times, to enhance health and health care.

Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS)
Used to determine the severity of opioid withdrawal.

Clinical Trial
Any research studies that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of participants to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes.

The pain-relieving sedative agent contained in opium.

A family member’s or friend’s suffering that is the result of the side effects of one’s addiction; it occurs when one takes responsibility for another’s actions and helps that person avoid facing his or her problems directly to maintain the relationship.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
A short-term psychotherapeutic treatment approach that helps clients to understand how thoughts and feelings influence behavior. The goal of CBT is to show clients that while they can’t control everything that happens in the world around them, they can control how they interpret and deal with their environment.

Cold Turkey
Abruptly quitting a drug by choice in order to try to quit long-term.

A physical behavior one repeats involuntarily that can be harmful. (e.g., addiction)

Compulsive Behaviors
A set of actions that an individual engages in repeatedly in an unhealthy way, for example, substance use, gambling, sex, eating, and the use of technological devices such as video games, television, and the internet. There is some evidence that the same brain circuits that are involved in addiction involving substances also may be involved in other compulsive behaviors or what are sometime called “behavioral addictions.”

Repetitive behaviors in the face of adverse consequences, as well as repetitive behaviors that are inappropriate to a particular situation. People suffering from compulsions often recognize that the behaviors are harmful, but they nonetheless feel emotionally compelled to perform them. Doing so reduces tension, stress, or anxiety.

A behavioral change that results from an association between events.

Continuum of Care
An integrated system of care that guides and tracks a person over time through a comprehensive array of health services appropriate to the individual’s need. A continuum of care may include prevention, early intervention, treatment, continuing care, and recovery support.

Co-occuring Disorders
Mental patients’ condition when they are also addicted to any mind-altering drug; also called dual diagnosis.

A powerful and strong desire or urge for a substance; a symptom of the abnormal brain adaptions that result from addiction.

Crisis Intervention
The action taken when one’s usual coping resources pose a threat to individual or family functioning.

The ability of one drug to prevent the withdrawal symptoms of one’s physical dependence on another.

Occurs when one’s tolerance for one drug results in their lessened response to another.

D (back to top)

One’s failure to either admit or realize his or her addiction or to recognize and accept the harm it can cause.

A state in which an organism only functions normally in the presence of a substance, experiencing physical disturbance when the substance is removed. A person can be dependent on a substance without being addicted, but dependence sometimes leads to addiction.

Sedatives that act on the central nervous system. (e.g. to treat anxiety, high blood pressure, tension, etc.)

One of the most frequent types of distress resulting from addiction; an ongoing state of sadness involving the inability to concentrate, inactivity, etc.

Detoxification (Detox)
The process of removing a toxic substance (e.g. a drug) from the body; abstaining from using drugs or alcohol until the bloodstream is free of toxins. See Stabilization

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
A diagnostic tool used by clinicians to determine whether a patient meets clinical criteria for a substance use disorder or other psychiatric disorders (or both). It is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and revised every 10-20 years. The most recent edition is “DSM-5”.

Diagnostic Evaluation
This is a determination made by a trained health professional of the presence, stage and severity of addiction or substance abuse. It is performed using diagnostic tools such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

A condition featuring medically significant symptoms that often have a known cause.

Disease Management
A process whereby persons with long-term chronic health conditions work with health care providers to maintain their health and functioning. It may include medications and/or therapies to ensure that patients remain symptom free and that other health conditions and the patient’s nutrition and exercise requirements are addressed. Disease management can improve an individual’s ability to function, suppress symptoms, prevent the development of additional health conditions, and reduce relapse.

Disease Model
A theory of alcoholism that considers the addiction a disease rather than a social or psychological issue.

The active distribution of evidence-based interventions (EBIs) to specific audiences, with the goal of increasing their adoption.

Doctor Shopping
Occurs when a patient requests care simultaneously from multiple physicians without their knowledge in order to receive higher amounts of medications.

A chemical produced naturally by the body; functions in the brain as a neurotransmitter to provide feelings of well-being. Dopamine is also released after taking drugs, which can over-stimulate dopamine receptors in the brain. Some of the latest studies on dopamine indicate that drugs can damage the reward systems in the brain and create a state of permanent depression.

Dope Sick
A common term which describes a set of symptoms usually related to withdrawal from opiates, such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, or prescription opioids. Sometimes it is used more broadly for detox from other drugs, but the term originated specifically for heroin.

Another name for depressants; these drugs can cause low moods. (e.g. alcohol, barbiturates, tranquilizers, etc.)

Drug Diversion
A medical and legal concept involving the transfer of any legally prescribed controlled substance from the person for whom it was prescribed to another person for any illicit use.

Drug Misuse
One’s use of a drug not specifically recommended or prescribed when there are more practical alternatives; when drug use puts a user or others in danger.

Drug of Choice (DOC)
This refers to a persons drug of choice.

Drug Tolerance
A progressive state of decreased responsiveness to a drug.

Dry Drunk
A person who has stopped drinking (or drugging) but has not made the psychological and emotional changes necessary to achieve a complete recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction.

Mental patients’ condition when they are also addicted to any mind-altering drug; also called co-occurring disorders.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Driving under influence of alcohol or another illicit substance that impairs one’s ability to drive.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Driving while intoxicated.

The opposite of euphoria.

An addiction’s tendency to cause another (e.g. gateway drugs); an addicted person’s tendency to combine substances.

E (back to top)

Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
A digital version of a paper chart that contains all of a patient’s medical history from one practice.

Helping an addicted person do things they can or should be doing for themselves; causes disease progression.

Endogenous Opioid
The opioids that the body naturally produces in order to help us tolerate pain.

Opium-like substances produced by the brain; natural painkillers.

The beverage type (ethyl) of alcohol.

A pleasurable state of altered consciousness; one reason for the preference of one addictive behavior or substance over another.

Evidence-Based Practices, Therapy, or Treatment
Scientifically validated treatment approaches.

An inactive substance added to a drug to help bind the active ingredient.

F (back to top)

An extremely powerful narcotic painkiller, about 1000 times stronger than heroin. It is so strong that it is dangerous to even handle, and is only prescribed for cancer patients or within hospital settings.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
Birth defects/abnormalities in babies of alcoholic and alcohol abusing mothers.

Fetal Drug Syndrome (FDS)
Birth defects/abnormalities in babies of drug abusing mothers.

The extent to which an intervention is delivered as it was designed and intended to be delivered.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Administers federal laws regarding, for example, the safety and effectiveness of drugs.

G (back to top)

Gateway Drug
“Gateway drug” theorists believe that people start abusing drugs by using the mildest or legal ones first, and then they progress to more dangerous, addictive and illegal substances. The majority of scientific studies back up the idea of progressive drug use.

H (back to top)

An outdated term for addiction/physical dependence.

Halfway House
A transitional living space for those coming from treatment for substance abuse, process addictions, and/or mental health disorders. Also called a sober house, sober living home, recovery house, transitional house, or therapeutic community. A halfway house is a safe place for the newly recovered to begin reintegrating into society while still receiving monitoring and support. Requirements include abstention, performance of certain duties and chores and mandatory group meetings.

Chemical substance that distorts perceptions, sometimes resulting in delusions or hallucinations. See also Psychedelic and Psychoactive Drugs.

Harm Reduction
Providing addicts with a safe environment in which to use, to reduce the amount of harm associated with using that drug. The best example is a clean needle exchange program to prevent the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases. Education and treatment options can be shared at exchanges. Critics call it ‘enabling’.

Health information exchange (HIE)
The electronic movement of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards. The goal of health information exchange is to facilitate access to and retrieval of clinical data to provide safer, timelier, efficient, effective, equitable, and patient-centered care.

Heavy Drinking
Defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as consuming 8 or more drinks per week for women, and 15 or more drinks per week for men, and by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), for research purposes, as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past 30 days.

A full opioid agonist; heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as “black tar” heroin.

An effective narcotic analgesic first developed as a cough medication.

I (back to top)

Illegal/Illicit Drugs
Drugs that are illegal to produce, use, and sell.

A specified set of activities designed to put policies and programs into practice.

Inability to resist urges, deficits in delaying gratification, and unreflective decision-making. Impulsivity is a tendency to act without foresight or regard for consequences and to prioritize immediate rewards over long-term goals.

Beginning phase of buprenorphine treatment.

An addiction behavior’s tendency to slowly but surely increase in frequency.

Any of a 1,000 household products that contain chemical vapors which can produce a high. Because inhalants reduce inhibitions, users often engage in unsafe sex, increasing risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Addicted inhalers may suffer weight loss, depression, inability to pay attention, muscle weakness and lack of coordination. Serious damage may affect the heart, liver, lungs, brain and kidneys. Inhalant use can become a serious addiction with grave consequences, including coma or death – even from the very first use.

Inpatient Treatment
Intensive, 24-hour-a-day services delivered in a hospital setting.

Integrated Care
Integrating primary medical care with behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) care. Physical and behavioral health problems often occur at the same time and health care professionals should consider all conditions at once. The integration of substance abuse treatment into the medical care system would increase physician oversight of the complex problems often experienced by people with substance use problems.

The systematic coordination of general and behavioral health care. Integrating services for primary care, mental health, and substance use use-related problems together produces the best outcomes and provides the most effective approach for supporting whole-person health and wellness.

A process during which a professional interventionist works with a family and/or friends to confront the addicted individual with their behavior, make it clear they will no longer enable the addiction, and help them accept treatment. The best interventions are managed by a licensed or credentialed individual with a strong intervention background who understands the powerful psychological elements of denial.

The temporary state of being impaired, both physically and mentally, from drinking too much alcohol or using certain drugs.

Intrinsic Activity
The extent to which a drug activates a receptor.

L (back to top)

Learning Health Care System
As described by the Institute of Medicine, a learning health care system is “designed to generate and apply the best evidence for the collaborative healthcare choices of each patient and provider; to drive the process of discovery as a natural outgrowth of patient care; and to ensure innovation, quality, safety, and value in health care.”

Legal Drugs
Everyday drugs not for medical use. (e.g. alcohol, caffeine, carbohydrates, nicotine, etc.)

Levels of care
Treatment settings offer varying levels of intensity of services. Examples include crisis services, outpatient, inpatient rehabilitation, and residential. The placement of patients with substance problems into a specific level of care is usually based on an assessment of symptoms, functioning, risk factors and levels of support.

M (back to top)

Stabilization of a patient who is indefinitely on a drug’s lowest effective dose.

Meaningful Use
Using certified Electronic Health Records (EHR) technology to improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities; engage patients and family, improve care coordination and population and public health, and maintain privacy and security of patient health information.

Medical Model
An addiction theory that considers addiction a medical rather than social issue.

Medication Assisted Treatments or Therapy (MAT)
The use of medications in combination with psychosocial therapies to treat substance problems. Research shows that combined treatments often work better than either treatment alone. Although MAT most often refers to an approach for opioid use disorders, it is often recommend for alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs as well. For those addicted to opioids, however, a medication like naltrexone, methadone, or buprenorphine is usually necessary for treatment to be effective. See OTP and Pharmaceutical Therapy.

Mental Illness
Refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking, behavior, stress, and ability to function. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors.

Metabolism (of drugs)
The chemical and physical reactions carried out by the body to prepare for a drug’s execution.

A long-acting opiate (synthetically produced). Methadone, sold under the brand name Dolophine, among others, is an opioid used to treat pain and as maintenance therapy or to help with tapering in people with opioid dependence. Methadone is available as a tablet, liquid, or an injection. Methadone works on parts of the brain and spinal cord to block the “high” caused by using opiates (such as heroin). It also helps reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms caused by opiate use. It can be addictive.

Methadone Maintenance
Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is used as medication to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction. In maintenance treatment, patients initially come to an outpatient clinic daily to receive their medication. Take home medications may be available for patients who are able to stop use of alcohol and other drugs and demonstrate improved stability in their lives.

Therapy using one drug.

A major sedative/pain reliever found in opium.

Mu Agonist
A drug that stimulates physiologic activity on mu opioid cell receptors.

Mu Opioid Receptor
Nerve cell receptor that mediates opioid addiction and tolerance through drug-induced activity.

N (back to top)

An opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioid agonists. See Narcan®

A narcotic antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids. Naltrexone is like Naloxone but it lasts much longer, generally about 24 hours. It is sometimes used in the treatment of drug or alcohol dependence.

Narcan® (naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray is the first and only FDA-approved nasal form of Naloxone for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. Narcan® Nasal Spray counteracts the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose.

A drug that produces sleep/drowsiness and that also relieves pain while being potentially dependence- producing.

Negative Reinforcement
The process by which removal of a stimulus such as negative feelings or emotions increases the probability of a response like drug taking.

The study of the anatomy, function, and diseases of the brain and nervous system.

The natural chemical a neuron releases to communicate with or influence another.

Tobacco’s extremely toxic and addictive main active ingredient. (causes negative Central Nervous System stimulation)

A drug that doesn’t activate opioid receptors.

O (back to top)

A mental behavior one repeats involuntarily that can be harmful. (e.g., needing an alcoholic drink)

Off-Label Use
Physician-approved use of a drug for uses other than those stated on its label.

The poppy’s natural ingredients and their derivatives. (opium, morphine, codeine, and heroin)

Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)
A problematic pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairment or distress. A diagnosis is based on specific criteria such as unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control use, or use resulting in social problems and a failure to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home, among other criteria.”

Opioid Treatment Program (OTP)
SAMHSA-certified program (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration), usually comprising a facility, staff, administration, patients, and services, that engages in supervised assessment and treatment, using methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone, of individuals who have opioid use disorders. An OTP can exist in a number of settings, including but not limited to intensive outpatient, residential, and hospital settings. Services may include medically supervised withdrawal and/or maintenance treatment, along with various levels of medical, psychiatric, psychosocial, and other types of supportive care. See MAT and Pharmaceutical Therapy.

Opium’s synthetic form.

One of the most popular drugs; contained in muscle-relaxers, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers.

Outpatient Treatment
An addiction treatment venue where the patient does not have to stay overnight. The services are offered in an office or clinic setting. Intensive outpatient addiction treatment services are offered more frequently—typically, on a daily basis—than traditional outpatient services and are designed for patients who need more regular contact with health care providers.

An overdose can be either accidental or intentional, but is defined as an individual taking more of a substance than is medically recommended. Also simply referred to as an “OD,” a drug overdose is a highly critical medical emergency as it can cause increased toxicity, create an altered state of consciousness, induce coma, heart or respiratory failure, or result in death.

Over-the-Counter Drugs
Legal non-prescription drugs.

A narcotic painkiller related to morphine; it is a powerful pain medication that can be habit forming. When it becomes too difficult to obtain this drug, some users turn to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to get.

Brand name for Oxycodone.

P (back to top)

Analgesic substances. (opioids and nonopioids)

Partial Agonists
Bind to and activate receptors to a lesser degree than full agonists.

Pharmaceutical Therapy
The use of medications to treat addiction that works in one of these ways: 1. Reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. 2. Help patients function better in day-to-day life. 3. Reducing the rewarding effects. 4. Providing a less dangerous or less addicting version of the substance. Pharmaceutical therapies are prescribed by a physician, or other health professional under the supervision of a physician, as part of a treatment plan established and managed by a person’s physician. See MAT and OTP.

What the body does to a drug after it has been taken, including how rapidly the drug is absorbed, broken down, and processed by the body.

Scientific branch dealing with the study of drugs and their actions.

Physical Dependence
The body’s physiologic adaptation to a substance.

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

Polysubstance Abuse
Concurrent abuse of more than one substance.

Positive Reinforcement
The process by which presentation of a stimulus such as a drug increases the probability of a response like drug taking.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
The first stage is the acute stage, which usually lasts at most a few weeks. During this stage, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. But every drug is different, and every person is different.
The second stage of withdrawal is called the Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). During this stage you’ll have fewer physical symptoms, but more emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Post-acute withdrawal occurs because your brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As your brain improves, the levels of your brain chemicals fluctuate as they approach the new equilibrium, causing post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, domestic violence, or sexual assault.

Precipitated Withdrawal Syndrome
Can occur when a patient on full-agonist opioids takes an antagonist.

Protective Factors
Factors that directly decrease the likelihood of substance use and behavioral health problems or reduce the impact of risk factors on behavioral health problems.

Psychedelic Drugs
A class of hallucinogen, and are substances whose primary action is to alter cognition and perception, typically as serotonin receptor agonists, causing thought and visual/auditory changes, and heightened state of consciousness. Major psychedelic drugs include mescaline, , psilocybin, and DMT.

Psychoactive or Psychotropic Drug
A chemical substance that acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behavior.
These drugs may be used recreationally to purposefully alter one’s consciousness (such as coffee, alcohol or cannabis), as entheogens for spiritual purposes (such as the mescaline-containing peyote cactus or psilocybin-containing mushrooms), and also as medication (such as the use of narcotics in controlling pain, stimulants to treat narcolepsy and attention disorders, as well as anti-depressants and anti-psychotics for treating neurological and psychiatric illnesses).
Many of these substances (especially the stimulants and depressants) can be habit-forming, causing chemical dependency and may lead to substance abuse. Conversely, others (namely the psychedelics) can, in certain circumstances, help to treat and even cure such addictions.

Psychological Dependence
One’s compulsion to use a psychologically based drug for pleasure; may lead to drug misuse.

The study of how drugs affect consciousness, mood, sensation, etc.

Psychosocial Therapy
Psychosocial therapy includes specific types of individual, couples, family, and group therapies that have been shown to help individuals enhance their coping skills, navigate high-risk situations, avoid triggers to use substances, control cravings, cope with lapses, enhance their motivation to change behavior, encourage attendance at self-help meetings, or alter environments to reduce pressures to use. Psychosocial therapies are provided by highly trained clinical professionals.

Public Health System
Defined as “all public, private, and voluntary entities that contribute to the delivery of essential public health services within a jurisdiction” and includes state and local public health agencies, public safety agencies, health care providers, human service and charity organizations, recreation and arts-related organizations, economic and philanthropic organizations, education and youth development organizations, and education and youth development organizations.

Q (back to top)

Quality-Adjusted Life Year (QALY)
A measure of the burden of disease used in economic evaluations of the value of health care interventions that accounts for both the years of life lived and the quality of life experienced during those years, relative to quality associated with perfect health.

R (back to top)

Rapid Detox
Anesthesia-assisted detoxification. (injection of high doses of an opiate antagonist, followed by an infusion of naloxone)

Protein on a target cell’s membrane or cytoplasm with which a drug interacts.

One’s return to a negative behavior. (relapse, e.g. drug use)

A process of change through which individuals reduce or cease substance abuse, improve their health and wellness, secure a supportive environment, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Even individuals with severe and chronic substance use disorders can, with help, overcome their substance use disorder and regain health and social function.

Recovery Rates
The percentage of addicted persons undergoing treatment who partake in abstinence in their first year.

A term used in reference to changing behaviors of individuals with the disease of addiction to achieve abstinence and encourage other socially acceptable behaviors. There is no standard definition for rehabilitation, and it is important to ensure that evidence-based addiction treatment is offered.

A return to a state of illness after a period of being healthy, “disease-free,” without symptoms, or in a state of remission. With regard to substance use, most experts consider any use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs after several weeks of not using (abstinence) to be a “relapse.” Some experts use the term “slip” to refer to when a person returns to substance use very briefly but then returns to abstinence.

Relapse Prevention
After leaving a rehabilitation program, it is considered essential for former addicts to participate in relapse prevention to ensure long-term, successful recovery. There are several methods of relapse prevention, including coping skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy and lifestyle modification.

A medical term meaning that major disease symptoms are eliminated or diminished below a pre-determined, harmful level. A symptom-free period.

Residential Treatment
Intensive, 24-hour a day services delivered in settings other than a hospital. Patients live there, typically for several weeks or months. There may be limited physician or psychologist services available at such programs.

Reversed Tolerance
When a lower dose of a drug produces the same desired or observed effect that previously resulted only with higher dosages.

Risk Factor
A biological, psychological, or environmental influence that can increase one’s chance of having a disease such as addiction or other behavioral health problems. Examples include inheriting genes associated with addiction, a family history of addiction, exposure to physical or sexual abuse or other trauma, certain personality traits, and co-occurring mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

Risky Substance Use
The use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs in ways that threaten the health and safety of the user and/or others but do not meet the clinical criteria for a substance disorder. Risky use includes any substance use by minors, drinking in excess of health standards, any use of tobacco/nicotine, misuse of controlled prescription drugs and any illegal drug use.

S (back to top)

Measurement tool for the extent of one’s addiction. (e.g., self-completion questionnaire/life-history assessment)

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
An evidence-based practice used to identify and intervene with people who use alcohol or drugs in a risky, harmful, or hazardous ways and may be at risk for or already have a substance problem. SBIRT is an integrated, public health approach that provides opportunities for early intervention before more severe consequences occur or provides referrals to an addiction treatment provider for those identified as having already moved beyond the at-risk threshold.

Self-Help Group
Group of individuals dealing with similar issues that meets to support each other and share helpful information (e.g. AA, NA, etc.) Mission Addiction (MA) uses a combination of self-help as well as guest speakers and other professionals.

Side Effects
Secondary effects of a drug, that are usually undesirable.

Some experts use this term to refer to when a person returns to substance use very briefly but then returns to abstinence.

The process of safely removing addictive substances from the body. Medically-assisted stabilization, also called detoxification, aims to reduce discomfort and potential physical harm for individuals who are experiencing withdrawal. The stabilization process often requires the assistance of medical professionals and may involve the use of pharmaceutical therapies to guide people safely through withdrawal. Stabilization is an important and often necessary prerequisite to effective acute addiction treatment, but it does not itself constitute treatment.

Stages Of Change Model
A framework for understanding the behavior change process for people considering changing an unwanted behavior, such as substance use. The model identifies a series of 5 (or 6) stages through which people progress as they change behavior. It is often used to understand behavior change related to substance use. The stages include: pre-contemplation, contemplation, determination or preparation, action, maintenance, and termination – when the alcohol or drug no longer poses a temptation or threat.

Standard Drink
Based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a standard drink is defined as 12 oz. of regular beer, 8-9. oz. of malt liquor, 5. oz. of table wine, or 1.5. oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits. All of these drinks contain 14 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol.

A group of cyclic, solid unsaturated alcohols. (e.g. cholesterol)

Stimulant (or “uppers”)
Drugs that act on the central nervous system, resulting in alertness, excitation, and wakefulness. Examples include caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

A term for people who don‘t use drugs.

Drugs that enter the blood through the membranes under the tongue.

SUBOXONE® (buprenorphine and naloxone) Sublingual Film (CIII) is a prescription medicine indicated for treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support. For important safety information and more, visit

A psychoactive compound with the potential to cause health and social problems, including substance use disorders (and their most severe manifestation, addiction).

Substance Abuse
Refers to a less serious drug or alcohol use disorder in which substance use causes distress and problems. However, the problem has not progressed to addiction, which is a more serious form of the disorder.

Substance Misuse
The use of any substance in a manner, situation, amount or frequency that can cause harm to users or to those around them. For some substances or individuals, any use would constitute as misuse. (e.g., under-age drinking, injection drug use)

Substance Misuse Problems or Consequences
Any health or social problem that results from substance misuse. Substance misuse problems or consequences may affect the substance user or those around them, and they may be acute (e.g., an argument or fight, a motor vehicle crash, an overdose) or chronic (e.g., a long-term substance-related medical, family, or employment problem, or chronic medical condition, such as various cancers, heart disease, and liver disease). These problems may occur at any age and are more likely to occur with greater frequency of substance misuse.

Substance Use
The use—even one time—of any substance.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment
A service or set of services that may include medication, counseling, and other supportive services designed to enable an individual to reduce or eliminate alcohol and/or other drug use, address associated physical or mental health problems, and restore the patient to maximum functional ability.

Substance Use Disorders
A clinical term and medical illness caused by repeated misuse of a substance or substances. According to the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), substance use disorders are characterized by clinically significant impairments in health, social function, and impaired control over substance use and are diagnosed through assessing cognitive, behavioral, and psychological symptoms. Substance use disorders range from mild to severe and from temporary to chronic. They typically develop gradually over time with repeated misuse, leading to changes in brain circuits governing incentive salience (the ability of substance-associated cues to trigger substance seeking), reward, stress, and executive functions like decision-making and self-control. Note: Severe substance use disorders are commonly called addictions.

The brand name for buprenorphine, a partial, opioid agonist.

Support Services
While not considered treatment, these services may be helpful in promoting and supporting healthy outcomes when used alongside clinical treatment and disease management. These meetings constitute free worldwide networks offering advice and support. Support services include:
1. Mutual self-help support programs that help individuals manage their health and avoid the recurrence of disease symptoms (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other types of 12 Step fellowship, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, SMART Recovery, Women for Sobriety) as well as wellness programs to support health. Mission Addiction has a Christian support meeting and also strives to help address the issues below.
2. Other needed services to address legal, educational, employment, housing, parenting and child-care issues that may impede disease management

The greater effect that results when one takes more than one drug simultaneously.

Not natural occurring.

T (back to top)

Dangerous substance used in manufacturing pharmaceuticals.

The use of digital technologies such as electronic health records, mobile applications, telemedicine, and web-based tools to support the delivery of health care, health-related education, or other health-related services and functions.

Therapeutic Community
A setting where people with similar issues can meet to support each other’s recovery. It is usually a highly structured drug-free environment that most often involves longer-term (6 months or more) residential treatment. Based on mutual support principles, a therapeutic community incorporates behavior modification techniques, education or vocational training and residential job duties. This approach aims to re-socialize the resident to a substance-free, crime-free lifestyle through peer influence, personal responsibility, honest communication, healthy living and skill training. The mutual support aspect of therapeutic communities operates on a hierarchical basis; residents who have been involved in the program longer provide support and serve as role models for newer residents.

Therapeutic Dependence
Patients’ tendency to demonstrate drug-seeking behaviors because they fear withdrawal symptoms.

A general term used to mean psychosocial therapy, excluding pharmaceutical therapy.

Titration tapering is one of the medically supported, tapering forms of detox, used mostly in cases of low-dosage drugs or drugs that would otherwise be very difficult to taper slowly enough to avoid risky or severe withdrawal symptoms. The method of tapering depends on a variety of factors including, type of substance, dosage, length of time of use, severity of the substance use disorder, and other individual health considerations.

Condition in which one must increase their use of a drug for it to have the same effect.

A degree of poisonousness.

A drug which is designed for the treatment of anxiety, fear, tension, agitation, and disturbances of the mind, specifically to reduce states of anxiety and tension.

A general term used to mean psychosocial therapy that involves individual, couples, family, or group counseling or psychoeducation involving coping skills training. See Psychosocial Therapy

Anything that results in psychological and then physical relapse.

U (back to top)

Ups or Uppers
Drugs that produce a euphoric effect. (e.g. stimulants, amphetamines)

A sudden, unpredictable increase in addiction cravings; they usually involve temporary mental unawareness. (e.g. not realizing the amount of drinks one has had)

Urge-Peak Cycle
Ongoing urge-peaks, usually followed by relapse.

Less powerful desires than cravings; can be suppressed by willpower.

Urine Screening or Test
Used to detect alcohol or drugs and other illicit substances in the urine of those in recovery. Regular and random screening for drugs and alcohol is a mandatory part of many rehab facilities and outpatient rehab programs in order to ensure participants remain sober during recovery.

Outdated term used to describe one who misuses alcohol or drugs.

V (back to top)

A non-addictive, once-monthly treatment proven to prevent relapse in opioid dependent patients when used with counseling following detoxification. Before starting VIVITROL, you must be opioid-free for a minimum of 7-14 days to avoid sudden opioid withdrawal. For important safety information and more, visit

W (back to top)

The abrupt decrease in or removal of one’s regular dosage of a psychoactive substance, usually followed by a set of symptoms that are experienced when discontinuing use of a substance to which a person has become dependent or addicted, which can include negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, or depression, as well as physical effects such as nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and cramping, among others. Withdrawal symptoms often lead a person to use the substance again.

Withdrawal Symptoms
Severe and excruciating physical and emotional symptoms that generally occur between 4 to 72 hours after opiate withdrawal. (e.g., watery eyes, yawning, loss of appetite, panic, insomnia, vomiting, shaking, irritability, jitters, etc.)

Withdrawal Syndrome
Combined reactions or behaviors that result from the abrupt cessation of a drug one is dependent on.

Wrap-Around Services
Non-clinical services that facilitate patient engagement and retention in treatment as well as their ongoing recovery. This can include services to address patient needs related to transportation, employment, childcare, housing, legal and financial problems, among others.