Drug Glossary

When it comes to addiction and the treatment associated with it, many friends and family members are not familiar with the drug terms and what they actually mean. If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, learning the terms will be extremely helpful during the recovery process. The treatment experts from Banyan Treatment Center in Philadelphia are here to help you make sense of substance abuse and the drug terms associated with it.

Addiction: A recurring activity that continuously causes harm to oneself or others.

Addictive Personality: A set of traits that make an individual more susceptible to develop addictions to drugs, alcohol or other habit-forming behaviors.

Age at Onset: The age at which one’s addictive behavior began. This is an important factor in assessing an addiction before a treatment plan is created.

Agonist: A substance that triggers a receptor in the brain.

Alkaloids: Plant-produced organic compounds that are the active ingredients in many drugs, such as morphine.

Amphetamine: A stimulant that is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity. Adderall is an example of a prescribed Amphetamine.

Antagonist: A substance that can reverse another’s effects (a drug that does not elicit a response). It blocks a biological response by binding to a receptor rather than creating the response like an agonist.

Barbiturate: A drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia.

Benzodiazepine: A group of depressants used to induce sleep, prevent seizures, produce sedation, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, etc. Also known as benzos.

Biofeedback: This is the process of helping addicts to gain awareness of many physiological functions like heart rate, brain activity, etc. Some of the processes that can be controlled include brainwaves, muscle tone, skin conductance, heart rate, and pain perception.

Buprenorphine: This medication can treat pain as well as addiction to narcotic pain relievers.

Cirrhosis: Chronic liver damage from a variety of causes that can lead to scarring and liver failure. Typically caused by alcoholism and chronic drug use.

Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS): A scale used to identify the severity of opioid withdrawal.

Codependency: An excessive emotional or psychological dependence on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.

Depression: One of the most frequent types of distress that can result from addiction. It is a mental health disorder characterized by changes in mood, thought, and behavior causing significant impairment in daily life.

Detoxification (Detox): The medical process of removing a toxic substance (drugs or alcohol) from the body. This typically involves abstention from any substance until the bloodstream is free of toxins. Withdrawals can occur during this process.

Drug Tolerance: A progressive state of decreased responsiveness to a drug requiring more of a substance to feel the same effects.

Dual-Diagnosis: The term used when an individual has a mental health disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder, as well as an active addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Evidence-Based Treatment: Scientifically validated addiction treatment studies that have been conducted and extensive research has been documented on a particular treatment, and the treatment has proven to be successful. Drug and alcohol treatment centers provide evidence-based treatment for their patients.

Fentanyl: A powerful opioid used in medical settings that has found its way into many recreational drugs. Produces similar effects to heroin, however it is incredibly more potent and can be deadly.

Hydrocodone: An effective narcotic analgesic first developed as a cough medication. Used to treat moderate to severe pain.

Morphine: A pain medication of the opiate type which is found naturally in a number of plants and animals and directly affects the central nervous system to decrease the feeling of pain. Very addictive if misused.

Naloxone: Sold under the brand name Narcan among others, is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose situations. It is most commonly sprayed through the nose.

Narcotic: A drug that produces sleep/drowsiness and that also relieves pain. Has a high potential of addiction if misused.

Opiate: The poppy plant’s natural ingredients. Also includes opiates such as opium, morphine, and heroin.

Opioids: Synthetic form of opium.

Recovery: Reducing or abstaining from substance abuse; often followed by one’s personal life being turned around by way of a supportive environment to return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. A journey that leads to complete sobriety

Relapse: Using drugs or alcohol after a period of sobriety or drug use cessation.

Withdrawal Symptoms: Severe and excruciating physical and emotional symptoms that generally occur between 4 to 72 hours after ceasing to use drugs or alcohol.

Empower yourself to reclaim your life

If you, or a loved one is struggling from drug or alcohol addiction take the first step toward recovery. Contact us today for a consultation with one of our compassionate intake counselors. We're here to help!