Terms & Definitions

Drugs that are similar in chemical structure or pharmacologic effect to another drug, but are not identical.

Sometimes called “benzos,” these are sedatives often used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions. Combining benzodiazepines with opioids increases a person’s risk of overdose and death.

Designed to help someone during the process of physical withdrawal from a drug. Detox alone is not enough to treat SUDs. It is often the first step taken before entering other types of treatment. Sometimes it may take longer, but detox usually lasts 3-7 days. Medical Detox usually takes place in a hospital or clinical setting and involves receiving medication and close supervision by physicians, nurses, or other trained healthcare professionals. Non-Medical Detox is different in that no medication is administered during the detoxification process unless previously prescribed and verified.

The use of illegal drugs and/or the use of prescription drugs in a manner other than as directed by a doctor, such as use in greater amounts, more often, or longer than told to take a drug or using someone else’s prescription.

The preferred term is substance use disorder. When referring to opioids, see the Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) definition below and text box discussing the difference between “tolerance,” “dependence,” and “addiction.”

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. However, illegally made fentanyl is sold through illicit drug markets for its heroin-like effect, and it is often mixed with heroin or other drugs, such as cocaine, or pressed in to counterfeit prescription pills.

An illegal, highly addictive opioid drug processed from morphine and extracted from certain poppy plants.

Inpatient treatment is the preferred option for those looking to get away from their current temptations and focus completely on sobriety with no distractions. Inpatient is very similar to short-term residential treatment, but usually takes place in a clinical or hospital setting and care is provided by more clinicians and healthcare professionals.

A more structured outpatient treatment program where the individual receives services from 9-30 hours a week. IOPs allow individuals to continue working and living at home. This treatment type allows individuals to practice ways to stay drug/ alcohol free in real-life situations. It is often used to fill the gap between outpatient and inpatient treatment.

Combines the use of medication, counseling, and behavioral therapies, providing a whole-patient approach to the treatment of SUDs. An individual is able to focus on treatment and learn strategies on how to remain drug/alcohol free, while being able to work and manage other responsibilities. Medication is administered in controlled doses to reduce cravings and physical withdrawal symptoms. Law requires that a patient in a MAT program also receives other services like counseling, as medication alone is not enough for long-term sobriety.

Medicaid is a health care program that assists low-income families or individuals in paying for long-term medical and custodial care costs. Medicaid is a joint program, funded primarily by the federal government and run at the state level, where coverage may vary. Medicaid is available only to individuals and families that meet specified criteria. Recipients must be legal permanent residents or citizens of the United States and may include adults with low income, their dependents and people with specified disabilities. 

Medicare is health insurance provided by the government for people age 65 or older. People who have certain disabilities or health problems, such as long-term (chronic) kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant, also may get insurance through Medicare. It covers some, but not all, medical costs for people who qualify.

a synthetic opioid that can be prescribed for pain reduction or for use in MAT for opioid use disorder (OUD). For MAT, methadone is used under direct supervision of a healthcare provider.

The amount of milligrams of morphine an opioid dose is equal to when prescribed. Calculating MME accounts for differences in opioid drug type and strength.

A drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose and can be life-saving if administered in time. The drug is sold under the brand name Narcan or Evzio.

Natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic chemicals that interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain, and reduce the intensity of pain signals and feelings of pain. This class of drugs includes the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain medications available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others. Prescription opioids are generally safe when taken for a short time and as directed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused and have addiction potential.

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 use disorder is preferred over other terms with similar definitions, “opioid dependence” or “opioid addiction.”

Individuals visit a clinic or agency at least once a week and up to several hours a week to receive treatment. Outpatient facilities offer individual, group, and family therapy. With this structure, individuals can get the treatment they need without living at a facility.

Most residential treatment centers offer group, individual, and family therapy. This type of treatment provides 24/7 care and focuses on helping individuals change their behaviors in a structured environment. Education, life skills, and strategies on how to remain drug/alcohol free are often included as part of residential treatment. Short-term treatment is considered to be any length of time less than 90 days, but it can be as little as a few weeks. With a 1 to 3-month program duration, a short-term drug treatment program provides the essential services you need to break the cycle of addiction in a more intense and concentrated fashion. Many short-term treatment centers also assist in transitioning patients to outpatient services after their initial residential treatment cycle. Long-term treatment, on the other hand, is longer than 90 days, and can even be as long as one year in a few situations. Long-term programs can vary significantly. For example, some experts suggest that long-term programs should provide eight hours per week of counseling, and seven hours per day should be spent on structured activities. Some programs require residents to abide by a strict and structured set of rules, or else they will be asked to leave immediately. Other programs are much more lenient, even allowing residents to work outside the community and spend some nights in the homes of friends and family members. Family treatment consists of many of the same treatment methods and durations of the short- and long-term treatment types, while providing special accommodations for pregnant women or those with very young children.

State-funded treatment centers are organizations that use government money, distributed by the state, to support people in recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs. For those without a lot of income or with inadequate or no insurance, these centers provide detox, treatment, and support services.

Scholarships are very similar to an educational scholarship in that they are a third-party program that provides funding for individuals seeking help from free residential centers. One of the easiest ways to find out more about rehab scholarships is by calling a preferred treatment facility and asking about any affiliations they have with rehab scholarship programs. Scholarship organizations typically work on helping three main groups of people: * Individuals without medical insurance. * Those who are not able to pay for rehab out of pocket. * People who are unable to qualify for a loan because of bad credit.

Injury to the body (poisoning) that happens when a drug is taken in excessive amounts. An overdose can be fatal or nonfatal.

State or territorial-run electronic databases that track controlled substance prescriptions. PDMPs help providers identify patients at risk of opioid misuse, opioid use disorder, and/or overdose due to overlapping prescriptions, high dosages, or co-prescribing of opioids with benzodiazepines.

Reduced response to a drug with repeated use.