Topics A-Z

Addiction:  A chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Brain-imaging studies from drug-addicted individuals show physical changes in areas that are critical for judgment, decision-making, learning and memory and behavior control. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.  See also dependence.  Read more: The Science of Addiction  Note: The disease model of addiction has widespread support among medical professionals, but it also has been challenged. Read alternative views by Lance M. Dodes, MD and Stanton Peele, PhD.

Assessment: A comprehensive assessment provides information about the extent and severity of the substance abuse problem, mental health issues and other problems (e.g., legal). The assessor should be a qualified professional trained in addiction. Read more: Screening, assessment, and readiness for treatment

Ayahuasca: A hallucinogenic tea made in the Amazon from a DMT-containing plant (Psychotria viridis or Diplopterys cabrerana or other) along with another vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) that contains an MAO Inhibitor preventing the natural breakdown of DMT in the digestive system, thereby facilitating a prolonged hallucinatory experience. It was used historically in Amazonian religious and healing rituals and is increasingly used by tourists.

Cocaine: A powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America.

Dependence: A condition that can occur with regular alcohol or drug use (legal or illegal), in which the body adapts to the drug, requiring more to achieve a certain effect (tolerance), and results in withdrawal when the drug is discontinued. (NIDA) See also addiction.

Detoxification:  The process of clearing alcohol or drugs from the body. The amount of time required to detox depends on the substances involved. Detox may be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting to manage withdrawal symptoms. Detox alone is seldom effective. To prevent relapse, detox should be immediately followed by a comprehensive assessment and referral to appropriate treatment.

DMT: A synthetic drug producing intense but relatively short-lived hallucinogenic experiences; also naturally occurring in some South American plants (See Ayahuasca).

Drug take-back: Contribute to a safe community and clean environment- don’t flush your meds! Bring unused/expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to the permanent drug drop at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, 600 US Hwy 301 West, Bradenton. No questions asked. Open 24/7.  Note:  Remove pills from containers and place in a zip lock bag. Liquids and needles are not accepted. For more information, call the Sherriff’s Office on 941-747-3011, ext. 2278. Find additional locations. Can’t get to a drug drop? Learn how to dispose of unused meds.

GHB: A depressant approved for use in the treatment of narcolepsy, a disorder that causes daytime “sleep attacks.”

Hallucinogens: Drugs that cause profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality, such as ketamine, LSD, mescaline (peyote), PCP, psilocybin, salvia, DMT, and ayahuasca. For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.

Heroin: An opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant.

Inhalants: Solvents, aerosols, and gases found in household products such as spray paints, markers, glues, and cleaning fluids; also nitrites (e.g., amyl nitrite), which are prescription medications for chest pain.

Intervention:  A process in which loved ones get an addict/alcoholic to accept treatment. Families may conduct interventions themselves or seek professional help.  See also Marchman Act.  Read more

Ketamine: A dissociative drug used as an anesthetic in veterinary practice. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality.

Khat: Pronounced “cot,” a shrub (Catha edulis) found in East Africa and southern Arabia; contains the psychoactive chemicals cathinone and cathine. People from African and Arabian regions (up to an estimated 20 million worldwide) have used khat for centuries as part of cultural tradition and for its stimulant-like effects.

Kratom: A tropical deciduous tree (Mitragyna speciosa) native to Southeast Asia, with leaves that contain mitragynine, a psychoactive (mind-altering) opioid. Kratom is consumed for mood-lifting effects and pain relief and as an aphrodisiac.

LSD: A hallucinogen manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is an abbreviation of the scientific name lysergic acid diethylamide.

Marchman Act:  Enables families to get help for a loved one who is unwilling to seek substance abuse services voluntarily. This can be done by filing a petition at the County Clerk of Court or calling 911 for law enforcement. It can also be arranged through a treatment facility. Read more

Marijuana (Cannabis): Marijuana is harvested from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly): A synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA is an abbreviation of the scientific name 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. For more information, see the MDMA (Ecstasy) Abuse Research Report.

Mescaline (Peyote): A hallucinogen found in disk-shaped “buttons” in the crown of several cacti, including peyote.

Methamphetamine: An extremely addictive stimulant amphetamine drug.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS):  A group of problems that occur in a newborn who was prenatally exposed to addictive drugs. Symptoms vary, but may include excessive crying, trembling and seizures. Read more: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Data Summary 2015  Rising Number of Babies Born Addicted to Prescription Drugs in Florida. Watch: Born Addicted

Over-the-counter Cough/Cold Medicines (Dextromethorphan or DMX): Psychoactive when taken in higher-than-recommended amounts.

PCP: A dissociative drug developed as an intravenous anesthetic that has been discontinued due to serious adverse effects. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality.

Pill mills:  May have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Offer no medical solutions other than pills; minimal medical supplies.
  • Cash-only operation; do not take insurance.
  • Long lines; people loitering on the sidewalks.
  • Parking lot crowded with cars from out-of-state; occupants often asleep in cars as they wait for the clinic to open.
  • Security guard, security cameras, and possibly a guard dog.

To report a pill mill: call the Sheriff’s Office, 747-3011, Ext 2560, Special Investigative Unit – callers may remain anonymous; call the DEA’s toll-free, 24-hour pill mill tip line: 888-954-4662; or email Florida.Pill.Mill.Tips@USDOJ.GOV

Prescription Opioids: Pain relievers with an origin similar to that of heroin. Opioids can cause euphoria and are often used nonmedically, leading to overdose deaths.

Prescription Sedatives (Tranquilizers, Depressants): Medications that slow brain activity, which makes them useful for treating anxiety and sleep problems.

Prescription Stimulants: Medications that increase alertness, attention, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.

Psilocybin: A hallucinogen in certain types of mushrooms that grow in parts of South America, Mexico, and the United States.

Salvia: A dissociative drug (Salvia divinorum) that is an herb in the mint family native to southern Mexico. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality.

Steroids (Anabolic): Man-made substances used to treat conditions caused by low levels of steroid hormones in the body and abused to enhance athletic and sexual performance and physical appearance.

Substance-exposed newborn: A baby exposed prenatally to alcohol, prescriptions or other drugs. See also fetal alcohol syndrome and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Synthetic Cannabinoids: A wide variety of herbal mixtures containing man-made cannabinoid chemicals related to THC in marijuana but often much stronger and more dangerous. Sometimes misleadingly called “synthetic marijuana” and marketed as a “natural,” “safe,” legal alternative to marijuana.

Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts): An emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, a stimulant found naturally in the khat plant. Examples of such chemicals include mephedrone, methylone, and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).

Tobacco: Plant grown for its leaves, which are dried and fermented before use.