Glossary of Drug Terms and Definitions

Synergy – when two or more drugs are taken together; the combined action increases the normal effect of each drug.  This condition is also referred to as potentiation.

Half-life – amount of time it takes for the body to remove half of the drug from the system.  For drugs with a half-life of 24 hours or more, such as Valium, half of the first dose may still be in the body when the next dose is taken.

 Tolerance – a state of acquired resistance to the effects of a drug.  When it occurs, a person must increase the dosage to obtain the original effects.

Psychoactive drugs – drugs that alter thinking, perception, emotions, or consciousness.

Adulteration – the process by which a drug is made impure or inferior by the addition of an improper substance.  Additionally, other drugs are often adulterated with active substances in order to increase the desired effects or to make users think they are getting a more potent drug.

Drug automatism – taking drugs without being aware of the amounts; a state that often occurs with heavy barbiturate use when tolerance has developed.  In order to produce sleep, the user takes more of the drug because of an amnesia about the amount previously taken.

Iatrogenic addiction – addiction to a drug that has resulted from the drug being prescribed by a physician for medical purposes.

Legal high – a term for substances that can alter the mind and produce a high and are readily available without a prescription.

Polydrug use – the use of two or more drugs simultaneously.  (1) to enhance or potentiate one drug’s effects or (2) to neutralize or counteract undesirable effects of one of the drugs or (3) to achieve a less expensive high by combining an inexpensive drug with a small amount of an expensive one.

Luge – cutting a channel in block of ice and then pouring alcohol into channel while someone lays on ground to drink it (mostly school age and college).

Jello – mixing alcohol into jello (clever way of alcohol use).

Drano – mixing any depressant drug with alcohol and then injecting into body.

Big wheel – over-the-counter antihistamine crushed and sprinkled on beer and then chug-a-lug.

Flying saucer – crushed Valium sprinkled on beer and chug-a-lug.

Depth charge – combining a hit of cocaine with a nitroglycerin tab under tongue.

Wild Geronimo – opening capsule type drug contents into punch bowl, and adding ice and whiskey.

Fruit Salad – taking various drugs (usually from medicine cabinets) and placing them in brown bag – user takes 2-3 of these pills and washes them down with alcohol.

White-out – some forms of white-out contain chemical ingredients that are petroleum distillates.  User snorts it.

Cough drops – products which contain chemical ingredient “Dextrometh-orphan”; can be abused if user consumes in excess.

Magic markers – some products contain chemical ingredient which is petroleum distillate.

Sherman stick – marijuana joint dipped in embalming fluid (formaldehyde)

Cannabis Sativa – chemical name of marijuana plant.

Tetra Hydro Cannabinol (THC) – active fat soluble chemical ingredient in marijuana which produces the high and stores in body fat cells and tissues.

A-Motivational Syndrome – (anti-motivational) because of build-up of THC in fat cells, user becomes lethargic, lacks drive, energy and motivation and suffers from impaired memory and concentration and a reduced ability to perform tasks which require fine motor co-ordination.  Marijuana can be accurately traced in urine up to 14 days after use in novice user and 30 days in regular user.

Gynecomastia – a condition affecting male users of marijuana whereby the male breast becomes enlarged and fatty.  This can be pre-cancerous and the effects are irreversible.  Condition develops because estradiol, the female hormone, and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, are so closely similar in chemical make-up.  The brain is duped into believing that it is taking on artificial estradiol, therefore, telling the male breast to grow.

Formication – Cocaine-related condition whereby the user has a sensation that bugs or insects are crawling over the external layer (epidermis) of skin.  User will literally “gnaw” at or “pick” at their body, sometimes leaving scars or body sores.

Casey Jones Syndrome (“Jonesing”) – derived from lyrics of a Grateful Dead song; this is a “cocaine run” whereby the user has extreme difficulty in stopping the use; similar to an alcohol binge.

Hyperprexia – sudden malignant rise in body temperature (cocaine related).

Active Cut – when cocaine has been adulterated (cut or stepped on), the “bite” is removed…therefore, “duping substances” are added to the cocaine to give the impression that it is strong.  Since cocaine numbs the tongue of the user and produces a giddiness, three (3) local anesthetics are added; Lidocaine, Procaine, Xylocaine (anesthetics used in dental profession).

Inactive Cut – “bulking” agents are added to cocaine to return body and consistency after the cocaine has been cut; Mannitol, Inositol, Flour, Starch, Sugars, etc.

Dopamine Kindling – Cocaine-related condition whereby the chemical ingredient in the brain, dopamine, is kindled or burnt off.  Dopamine is responsible for producing the body’s energy, motivation, and drive.  This is why cocaine addicts pose a significant greater risk of suicidal ideation or attempts.

Speedballing – injection of heroin and cocaine.

Designer drugs – a chemical that is similar to an existing drug but whose chemical structure is altered so as to create a different drug; China White, MPTP (Ecstasy), MDMA.

LSD 25 – hallucinogen known as “Blue Cheer”, “Hawk”, and “California Sunshine”.

Phencyclidine (PCP) – animal tranquilizer with no known use in humans.  Known on the street as “Angel Dust”, “Hog”, “TRANQ”, “Monkey”…user develops a brittle-like numbing sensation…respiratory failure and arrest can occur and in many instances, user will become volatile.

Amyl Nitrite – chemical known as “Locker Room”, “Jock”, “Popper”, “Rush”…very pungent odor…user often times uses room deodorizers to mask the aroma…usually comes in small glass tube with chemical surrounded by wire mesh and cotton or in bottle marked with lightning bolt.

Butyl Nitrite – cousin of amyl nitrite.  This chemical is known as “Toilet Water” or “Bullet”.

Head Shops – stores which sell or promote drug paraphernalia devices; common sources are adult book shops because of promotional claims or hype that tie some drug use into enhanced sexual experiences.

Speed Cycle – usually lasts for 7 days; injection (first 1 to 2 days), the run (days 3-5), and the crash (days 6-7)…the user often times re-uses speed because of unpleasant feelings during the crash phase.

Automatism – during the speed cycle, and eventual re-entry into the speed cycle, the user forgets when he/she used last and, therefore, uses more speed.

Overamped – a speed-related condition whereby the speed user has used too much speed over a short period of time…user is conscious, but unable to move or speak (condition can mimic a stroke).

Synesthesia – a primarily speed-related condition which usually occurs during the speed run (days 3-5)…the user “hears colors” and “sees sound”.

The Major Volatile Solvents:

Chemical – Commercial Product

Toluene – Plastic Cement, Airplane Glue
and Lacquer Thinner
Xylene, Acetone – Fingernail Polish Remover
and Model Cement
Gasoline – Motor Fuel
Benzene – Rubber Cement, Cleaning Fluid
and Tube Repair Kits
Naptha – Lighter Fluid
Hexane – Plastic Cement

Chlorinated Hydrocarbons:

Carbon Tetrachloride – Spot Remover,Dry Cleaner

Trichlorethylene – Degrease, Dry Cleaner, Refrigerant


Trichormonofluoromethane – Aerosols, Refrigerant

Dichlordifluoremethane – Aerosols, Refrigerant

“Buffalo Breath” – pungent, fruity odor of the breath after using volatile solvents.

HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder–“flashback”) – the spontaneous and sometimes continuous recurrence of perceptual effects of LSD long after an individual has ingested the drug.

Robo – common street name for dextromethorpan.

Neurotransmitter – chemical compound that acts as a messenger to carry signals or stimuli from one nerve cell to another (serotonin, dopamine).

Cerebral Cortex – region of the brain responsible for cognitive functions including reasoning, mood, and perception of stimuli.

Coca ethylene – When people mix cocaine and alcohol, they are compounding the danger each drug poses and unknowingly form a complex chemical ingredient within their bodies. The human liver combines cocaine and alcohol and manufactures a third substance, “coca ethylene”, that intensifies cocaine’s euphoric effects, while possibly increasing the risk of sudden death.

Blunts – marijuana cigar

“Ice” or “Glass” – concentrated form of methamphetamine that resembles tiny chunks of translucent glass. It is a very potent crystal methamphetamine in a form that can be smoked.

Superman Syndrome – usually associated with amphetamine use; user often ignores the reality of personal limitations; they attempt to perform tasks they are incapable of performing.

Stacking – Taking two (2) or more different anabolic steroids at the same time; abusers think that the different steroids interact to produce an effect on muscle size that is greater than the effects of each drug individually.

Opiophobia – A health care providers unfounded fear that patients will become physically dependent upon or addicted to opiates even when using them appropriately (can lead to underprescribing of opiates for pain management).

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