Pain that usually starts suddenly and has a known cause, like an injury or surgery. It normally gets better as your body heals and lasts less than three months.
Pain relieving medications including over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®)and prescription opioids.
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.
Pain that lasts 3 months or more and can be caused by a disease or condition, injury, medical treatment, inflammation, or an unknown reason.
Counterfeit or Fake Pills
These illegal pills look like real medication but often contain powerful doses of fentanyl. Pills from unknown sources may be toxic or even deadly.
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.”
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
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.
Street slang for fentanyl. By any name, fentanyl is a very risky drug.
Good Samaritan Laws
Laws that provide certain protections for individuals responding to an overdose.
An illegal, highly addictive opioid drug processed from morphine and extracted from certain poppy plants.
The nonmedical use of a variety of drugs that are prohibited by law. These drugs can include amphetamine-type stimulants, marijuana/cannabis, cocaine, heroin, other opioids, and synthetic drugs, such as illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) and ecstasy (MDMA).
Treatment for opioid use disorder combining the use of medications (methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone) with counseling and behavioral therapies.
A highly addictive central nervous system stimulant that is dangerous and illegal. Although not an opioid, meth is sometimes mixed with fentanyl and can be linked with overdose.
Naloxone or Narcan
A drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose and can be lifesaving if administered in time. The drug is sold under the brand name Narcan or Evzio.
Originally referred to any substance that dulled the senses and relieved pain. Some people use the term to refer to all illegal drugs but technically, it refers only to opioids. Opioid is now the preferred term to avoid confusion.
Methods of managing pain that do not involve opioids. These methods can include, but are not limited to: acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®), cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, meditation, exercise, medications for depression or for seizures, or interventional therapies (injections).
Treatments that do not involve medications, including physical treatments (e.g., exercise therapy, weight loss) and behavioral treatments (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy).
Taking prescribed or diverted prescription drugs (drugs not prescribed to the person using them) not in the way, for the reasons, in the amount, or during the time-period prescribed.
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.
Commonly referred to as prescription opioids, medications that have been used to treat moderate to severe pain in some patients.
Opioid use disorder (OUD)
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 abuse or dependence” or “opioid addiction.”
Injury to the body (poisoning) that happens when a drug is taken in excessive amounts. An overdose can be fatal or nonfatal.
Adaptation to a drug that produces symptoms of withdrawal when the drug is stopped.
Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)
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.