Module 11: Key Terms

analgesic: having the ability to relieve pain (usually refers to a drug).

analogs: having a chemical structure similar to another compound but different in one or more component, often developed and distributed as means of circumventing laws restricting manufacture/distribution of the drug for which it is an analog.

buprenorphine: an opioid medication used in the treatment of opioid use disorder (partial mu-opioid receptor agonist).

carfentanil (or carfentanyl): an extremely powerful, addictive synthetic opioid originally intended for large animal veterinary practice.

endogenous: originating inside the body.

exacerbated: meaning that something is made worse.

exogenous: originating outside the body.

fentanyl: an extremely powerful, addictive synthetic opioid, often mixed with other substances, with a strong presence in illicit drug trafficking but originally intended for prescription pain management in human and veterinary medicine.

heroin: a powerful, addictive opioid derived from morphine (naturally derived from opium poppy), produced in various forms (e.g., white powder, brown powder, black tar) and having no recognized medical use in the U.S. (Schedule I drug by the DEA).

medication assisted treatment (MAT): use of prescription medications under medical supervision to treat substance use disorders of various types and deter relapse through management of cravings and withdrawal symptoms and/or interrupting the substance-use reward system; recommended that behavioral interventions accompany MAT.

methadone: a long-acting opioid used in treating opioid use disorder (originally developed as a strong pain reliever/analgesic narcotic) working as an opioid receptor agonist; because of its addictive potential, it remains a Schedule II drug by the DEA.

methadone maintenance therapy (MMT): an integrated treatment protocol for recovery from opioid use disorder, combining long-term prescribing of methadone in combination with behavioral counseling and other social services to support recovery.

naloxone: an opioid antagonist drug with low addictive potential used both in the immediate reversal of opioid overdose (causing immediate withdrawal) and in longer-term medication assisted treatment of opioid use disorder.

naltrexone: an opioid/opiate antagonist that blocks positive effects from using opioids or alcohol, decreasing the desire to use these substances in the future.

narcotics: drugs designed for pain management/relief; the term now commonly refers to illicitly used/trafficked opioids.

neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS): term commonly used for neonatal withdrawal syndrome (see below).

neonatal withdrawal syndrome (NWS): a cluster of symptoms frequently observed in newborn infants who have been prenatally exposed to opioids, triggered by separation from the source of these substances via the placenta causing the infant to experience substance withdrawal.

opiates: psychoactive substances that interact with opioid receptors and are produced from natural sources (e.g., opium, morphine, codeine); opiates are now considered to fall under the broader opioid category.

opioids: psychoactive substances that interact with opioid receptors; may be “natural,” synthetic, or partially/semi-synthetic in origin.

opioid agonist: a substance or drug that activates opioid receptors resulting in some (partial agonist) or all (full agonist) opioid effects—heroin, methadone, morphine are full opioid agonists and buprenorphine is a partial agonist.

opioid antagonist: a substance or drug that blocks opioid receptors thereby interfering with opioid effects—naloxone is an opioid antagonist.

opioid use disorder (OUD): a diagnostic label applied when 2 or more of 11 criteria listed in the DSM-5 are met within the same 12-month period, with degree of severity determined by the total number of criteria met.


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SWK 5805: Theories and Biological Basis of Substance Misuse Copyright © by Dr. Audrey Begun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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