Module 1: Introduction & Overview

Module 1: Key Terms

abstinence: restraining from consuming a particular substance.

binge drinking: In the NSDUH surveys, this is defined as five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day. The NIAAA definition is a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to or above the 0.08 gram percent (legal level for driving). Risky single occasion drinking (RSOD) is another term for describing this pattern or drinking. Discussed in greater detail in our course Module 8.

blood alcohol concentration: defined in terms of grams (weight) of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, for example 0.08 means 80 milligrams (.08 grams) per 100 milliliters (100 ml=1 deciliter, dL) blood, and can be estimated in breath or urine tests; discussed in greater detail in our course Module 8.

cannabinoids: substances that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain to affect neurotransmitter release, such as the compounds in cannabis (marijuana); the subject of our course Module 12.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): operating through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to protect America from health and safety threats, respond to health threats, and support communities in protecting health.

decriminalization: the act of repealing, removing, or reducing legal restrictions or criminal penalties associated with a previously illegal act.

depressants: substances that reduce (depress) one’s state of mental arousal, stimulation, or anxiety, as well as slowing the rate of body functions; the subject of our course Module 9, but also includes alcohol (Module 8).

dissociatives: substance that induce a state of relaxation and calm by detaching the conscious mind from perception brain functions, including pain perception—which is why it can be used in medical anesthesia; discussed in our course Module 9.

hallucinogens (psychotomimetics): substances that induce distortions in the sensory system perceptions of reality (hallucinations); discussed in our course Module 12.

harm reduction: practical strategies for reducing negative consequences from substance use, may or may not involve abstinence.

harmful use of alcohol: the World Health Organization definition involves consuming alcohol in a manner “that causes detrimental health and social consequences for the drinker, the people around the drinker and society at large, as well as the patterns of drinking that are associated with increased risk for adverse health outcomes” (WHO, p. 2).

heavy drinking: Defined in the NSDUH surveys as a pattern of consuming five or more drinks containing alcohol on the same occasion, on each of five or more days in a month; discussed in greater detail in our course Module 8.

inhalants: chemically volatile substances producing vapors that can be inhaled, and have a psychoactive effect; discussed in our course Module 12.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): an institute of NIH charged with supporting and conducting research on the impact of alcohol use on human health and well-being, and leading the nation’s efforts to reduce alcohol-related problems.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): an institute of NIH charged with advancing science concerning the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction, as well as applying that knowledge to improve public health.

National Institutes of Health (NIH): comprised of 27 institutes and centers, operating through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to seek knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and application of that knowledge to health enhancement.

National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH): an institute of NIH leading research into mental disorders, as well as discovery in the science of brain, behavior, and experience toward the goal of prevention and cure of mental disorders.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH): an annual study sponsored by SAMHSA providing national and state-level data concerning mental health status in the United States, and the use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drug misuse.

opiates: substances containing or derived from opium, reduce pain, and induce sleepiness; the subject of our course Module 11.

opioids: substances the mimic the effects and properties of opiates, but are synthetically derived (not necessarily containing opium); the subject of our course Module 11.

psychoactive (psychotropic) substances: These are substances that, when consumed, have a significant effect a person’s mental processes, mind, mood, and behavior.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): the federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) charged with leading public health efforts to advance the nation’s behavioral health and reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental disorders on communities.

steroids (anabolic & androgenic): manufactured substances that mimic the effects of the naturally occurring hormone testosterone; discussed in our course Module 12.

stimulants: substances that have the effect of increasing alertness, attention, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate; the subject of our course Module 10.

War on Drugs: the label applied in 1971 by President Nixon to a campaign of United States government policy actions directed toward controlling trade in illegal drugs.

World Health Organization (WHO): part of the United Nation’s system, headquartered in Geneva, and leading global efforts to promote health and responses to global health concerns.

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Module 1: Key Terms by Audrey Begun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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