Commonly Used Terms

In order to eliminate the stigma surrounded by addiction and substance abuse, 

  • Abstinence- Not using drugs or alcohol.
  • Opioid- Natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic chemicals that interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals and feelings of pain. 
  • Opioid Use Disorder- A problematic pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairment or distress.
  • Drug Misuse- The use of illegal drugs and/or the use of prescription drugs in a matter other than as directed by a doctor. For example, taking someone else’s prescription, use in greater amounts, more often, or longer than told.     
  • Acute Pain- Pain that usually starts suddenly after a known injury or surgery.  It normally decreases as your body heals and lasts less than three months.
  • Chronic Pain- Pain caused by a disease or condition, injury, inflammation or an unidentified reason that lasts 3 months or more. 
  • Illicit Drugs- The non-medical use of a number of drugs that are prohibited by law.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment- Treatment for opioid use disorder combining behavioral therapies, the use of medications, and counseling. 
  • Naloxone- A drug designed to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. The drug is sold under the brand name Narcan or Evzio.
  • Narcotic Drugs- Originally referred to any substance that dulled the senses and relieved pain. Some people use the term to refer to all illegal drugs but technically, it refers only to opioids.
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)- A condition of withdrawal that occurs when certain drugs pass from the mother into the fetus' bloodstream during pregnancy causing the baby to become drug dependent and experience withdrawal after birth. NAS can require hospitalization and treatment with medication to relieve symptoms. 
  • Non-Opioid Therapy- Methods of managing pain that do not involve opioids.
  • Overdose- A biological response to the body when a drug is taken in excessive amounts. 
  • Opioid Tolerance- When a person is using opioids, an increase in dosage is required in order to feel the same analgesic effect.
  • Opioid Dependence- When the normal functioning of the body is adjusted to the regular use of opioids, even if taken as prescribed.  
  • Opioid Addiction- Preferably known as Opioid Use Disorder, occurs when attempts to decrease or control use are unsuccessful or when failure to meet obligations at work, school, or home result in use. Opioid addiction often proceeds opioid tolerance and dependence hence making it physically challenging to stop opioid use.
  • Recovery- The voluntary process of improving health and quality of life by pursuing treatment for substance use disorder and/or controlling problematic substance use. 
  • Relapse- The return to drug use after an attempt to stop. 

Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control