Note:  Definitions are expressed in language applicable to the subjects of drug and alcohol testing, pharmacology, pathology, and therapeutics. Some terms may possess inherently different meanings when applied to other fields or applications.

  • Abstinence:
    When an individual discontinues the use of drugs or behaviors the individual is addicted to or physically dependent on.
  • Accuracy:
    The ability of a test device or method to produce a reading that matches the known value for the sample.
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):
    A disorder characterized by short attention span, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity, typically diagnosed in children.
  • Amnestic:
    An agent used for the treatment of impaired memory function.
  • Analgesic:
    An agent that reduces pain.
  • Anesthetic:
    An agent that causes loss of sensations, including, but not limited to, the sensation of pain.
  • Anesthetic, General:
    An agent that produces unconsciousness and loss of sensation, including, but not limited to, the sensation of pain. Since general anesthesia occurs at brain level, the entire body is affected.
  • Anesthetic, Local:
    An agent that causes loss of sensations, including, but not limited to, the sensation of pain, at the specific region of the body where it is applied.
  • Anorectic (Anorexiant):
    An agent that reduces the appetite.
  • Anticonvulsant:
    An agent used to control convulsions and seizures, primarily in the treatment of epilepsy, also known as an antiepileptic agent or an antiseizure agent.
  • Antiemetic:
    An agent that reduces vomiting.
  • Antispasmodic:
    An agent that prevents or relieves muscle spasms.
  • Antitussive:
    An agent that suppresses coughing.
  • Anxiolytic:
    An agent that reduces anxiety, also known as an antianxiety agent.
  • Bioavailability:
    The degree to which a drug reaches its target in the body.
  • Buccal / Buccally:
    When a substance is taken orally, between the gums and cheek, in order to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Cannabinoid:
    An agent that interacts with the brain's cannabinoid receptors, most notably those associated with the cannabis plant, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
  • Catatonia:
    A state of unresponsiveness and immobility with muscular rigidity, at times interrupted by agitation.
  • Central Nervous System (CNS):
    The body system comprised of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressant:
    An agent that reduces activity or function in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), typically resulting in decreased energy, decreased alertness, and increased ability to sleep.
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulant:
    An agent that increases activity or function in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), typically resulting in increased energy, increased alertness, and decreased ability to sleep.
  • Coformulation:
    A drug consisting of two or more active ingredients, each maintaining its own distinct pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties.
  • Cross-react:
    When a compound other than the target compound causes a positive test reading. Typically, cross-reacting compounds have chemical properties in common with the target compound.
  • Cross-reactivity:
    The degree in which a compound other than the target compound is shown to cause a positive test reading.
  • Cutoff Level (Cutoff Concentration):
    The concentration of a compound, in fluid, required to yield a positive test reading, typically reported in nanograms (1 billionth of 1 gram) of the compound per milliliter of fluid (ng/mL). Samples with a concentration of compound equal to or greater than the cutoff level are reported positive. Samples with a concentration of compound below the cutoff level are reported negative. A lower cutoff level indicates greater ability to detect the compound.
  • Dabbing:
    The act of consuming a dose of cannabis concentrate using an apparatus known as a dab rig. The dose of concentrate, known as a dab, is placed on the tip of a covered nail-like surface and heated, with the released fumes being inhaled through a mouthpiece.
  • Designer Drug:
    A drug created by changing the molecular structure of one or more existing drugs in order to achieve a desired effect. Designer drugs have no accepted medical purpose and are typically synthesized in illicit laboratories.
  • Dissociative:
    An agent that reduces or blocks signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain, resulting in a state of disconnection from reality, the self, and the outside world.
  • Drug:
    A substance that affects one or more body systems: in a medical context, to diagnose, treat, or prevent disease; or in a recreational, non-medical context, for the purpose of achieving euphoria or impairment.
  • Drug Addiction:
    A neurological disease induced by repeated exposure to one or more drugs, affected by genetic and environmental factors, characterized by persistent drug cravings, and manifested by destructive behaviors, including: compulsive drug use, excessive or dangerous drug use, continued drug use in spite of life-altering consequences, and the pathological pursuit of relief and reward through drug use.
  • Drug Tolerance:
    The body's adaptation to a drug, such that increasingly larger doses are required in order to experience the same effects as priorly encountered.
  • Empathogen:
    An agent that produces feelings of well-being and empathy towards others.
  • False Negative Test Result:
    A test result indicating that a targeted drug/metabolite (or compound listed in the Specificity table) is not present in a concentration equal to or greater than its cutoff concentration; when, in fact, a targeted drug/metabolite (or substance listed in the Specificity table) is present in a concentration equal to or greater than its cutoff concentration.
  • False Positive Test Result:
    A test result indicating that a targeted drug/metabolite (or compound listed in the Specificity table) is present in a concentration equal to or greater than its cutoff concentration; when in fact, a targeted drug/metabolite (or compound listed in the Specificity table) is not present in a concentration equal to or greater than its cutoff concentration.
  • Hallucinogen:
    An agent that disrupts activity or function in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), sometimes resulting in sensory illusions that can range from imperceptible to extreme, depending on the specific agent and dose.
  • Hypertension:
    Abnormally high blood pressure.
  • Hypnotic:
    An agent that induces sleep.
  • Illicit Drug:
    A drug that is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or possess, according to regional law; also, a drug possessed by an unauthorized party, such as a diverted prescription drug.
  • Illicit Drug Use:
    Any illegal drug use, including the use of a diverted prescription drug, in addition to the use of a drug that is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or possess, according to regional law.
  • In Vitro:
    Occurring outside of the living body.
  • In Vivo:
    Occurring within the living body.
  • Licit Drug:
    A drug that is legal to manufacture, distribute, or possess, according to regional law.
  • Licit Drug Use:
    Drug use that is legal according to regional law, including the legitimate use of a prescription drug by the authorized prescription holder.
  • Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT):
    Therapy involving the use of medications along with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders and prevent drug overdose.
  • Metabolite:
    A substance produced by the body during the breakdown of an ingested substance. Some metabolites are excreted in the urine or feces. Urinary metabolites are frequently the target compounds used for urine drug screening.
  • Monoproduct:
    A drug consisting of one active ingredient.
  • Narcolepsy:
    A sleep disorder characterized by symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness, uncontrollable sleep attacks, and cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle control).
  • Negative Test Result:
    A test result indicating that a targeted drug/metabolite (or compound listed in the Specificity table) is not present in a concentration equal to or greater than its cutoff concentration.
  • Non Cross-Reacting Compound:
    In cross-reactivity testing, a compound that shows no cross-reactivity with (is not detected positive by) the test device or method.
  • Opiate:
    An agent derived, directly or indirectly, from the opium poppy.
  • Opioid:
    An agent that binds to the opioid receptors, producing pain relieving and euphoric effects. Opioids include the poppy-derived opiates in addition to semi-synthetic and fully synthetic opioids.
  • Opioid Agonist:
    An agent that binds to the opioid receptors and activates the receptors, producing the opioid effects of pain relief and euphoria, while suppressing cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals physically dependent on opioids.
  • Opioid Antagonist:
    An agent that binds to the opioid receptors, does not activate the receptors, and blocks other opioid agents from binding to and activating the receptors; thus preventing other opioid agents from producing the opioid effects of pain relief and euphoria, and preventing the suppression of cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals physically dependent on opioids (allowing withdrawal symptoms to occur).
  • Opioid Maintenance Treatment:
    Treatment that aims to achieve a steady state in the patient through medically supervised dosing of an opioid agonist or partial agonist, mitigating against the pathological pursuit of reward and relief associated with addictive behaviors, mitigating also against the risk of overdose.
  • Opioid Naive:
    An individual for which drug tolerance and physical dependence on opioids is not established.
  • Opioid Partial Agonist:
    An agent that binds to the opioid receptors and partially activates the receptors, producing, to a lesser degree than a full agonist, the opioid effects of pain relief and euphoria, while suppressing cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals physically dependent on opioids.
  • Opioid Treatment Program (OTP):
    A facility that treats opioid use disorder (OUD) using medication assisted therapy (MAT), including counseling and behavioral therapies, in addition to the scheduled, supervised, on-site dosing of an opioid agonist, typically methadone. OTPs must be certified by SAMHSA, accredited by an independent accrediting body, licensed by the state, and registered with the DEA.
  • Opioid Use Disorder (OUD):
    A problematic pattern of opioid use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress. Symptoms of OUD include: strong desire for opioids; inability to control or reduce use; continued use despite interference with major obligations or social functioning; use of larger amounts over time; development of tolerance; spending a great deal of time to obtain and use opioids; and withdrawal symptoms that occur after stopping or reducing use, such as flu-like symptoms, exhaustion, fatigue, depression, anxiety, cramps, muscle aches, fever, chills, perspiration, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Physical Dependence:
    A condition caused by prolonged use of a drug in which body systems adapt to, and ultimately rely on, the presence of the drug. In the absence of the drug, uncomfortable and persistent withdrawal symptoms occur, which can threaten quality of life.
  • Peripheral Nervous System (PNS):
    The body system comprised of the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) Stimulant:
    An agent that increases activity in the system of nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Positive Test Result:
    A test result indicating that a targeted drug/metabolite (or compound listed in the Specificity table) is present in a concentration equal to or greater than its cutoff concentration.
  • Preanesthetic:
    An agent administered prior to administering an anesthetic, typically before surgery. A preanesthetic might be used as a sedative to reduce anxiety experienced by the patient, as an analgesic to reduce pain experienced by the patient, to increase the effectiveness of the anesthetic, or to counteract specific effects of the anesthetic.
  • Precision:
    The ability of a test device or method to produce the same value during repeated measurements.
  • Prodrug:
    A drug that is inactive in its original form, converting to its active form after being metabolized in the body. This allows for greater control over timing and delivery of the active drug in the body. This also makes it more difficult for the drug to be misused in non-conventional manners, such as by injecting or snorting.
  • Psychoactive:
    Affecting the mind or behavior.
  • Psychosis:
    A mental condition characterized by a disconnection from reality.
  • Psychosocial Treatment:
    Any non-pharmacological intervention carried out in a therapeutic context, including but not limited to: structured and professional interventions, such as behavioral therapy sessions or relationship counseling; and non-professional interventions, such as self-help or family support groups.
  • Qualitative Test Result:
    A test result expressed in non-numerical terms in order to determine the presence or absence of drug/metabolite in the sample.
  • Quantitative Test Result:
    A test result expressed in numerical terms in order to determine the specific quantity of drug/metabolite present in the sample.
  • Recreational Drug:
    A drug used for the purpose of achieving euphoria or impairment in a non-medical context.
  • Recreational Drug Use:
    When a drug is used for the purpose of achieving euphoria or impairment in a non-medical context.
  • Reproducibility:
    The ability of a test device or method to produce the same value during repeated measurements in various laboratories that are participating in a collaborative study.
  • Sedative:
    An agent that produces relaxation.
  • Sedative-Hypnotic:
    An agent that produces relaxation in lower doses, while inducing sleep in higher doses.
  • Sensitivity:
    For quantitative test devices: The smallest concentration of drug/metabolite that produces a response distinguishable from the background or blank value. For qualitative test devices: The minimum concentration of drug/metabolite that is capable of generating a positive test result. In qualitative test devices, this amount is generally the same as the cutoff concentration.
  • Specificity:
    The degree in which a test device or method detects only the drug and/or metabolites that are intended to be detected, without detecting substances that are not intended to be detected.
  • Subdermal / Subdermally:
    When a substance is implanted below the surface of the skin in order to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Sublingual / Sublingually:
    When a substance is taken orally, under the tongue, in order to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Substance Misuse:
    When patterns of substance use are potentially harmful to self, group, or others, including: when a drug is used for a purpose in clear contradiction to its indicated purpose; when a drug is used in a manner in clear contradiction to instructions of clinician or manufacturer; when a drug is used in a compulsive manner, in excessive amounts, or for excessive durations of time; when a drug is administered using questionable methods; or when a substance is used for the purpose of achieving impairment in a non-medical context.
  • Target Compound:
    The specific drug or metabolite that the test device is designed to detect, targeting a specific cutoff concentration for that particular compound.
  • Thebaine:
    An extract of the opium poppy used to create many semi-synthetic opioid drugs.
  • Transdermal / Transdermally:
    When a substance is applied to the surface of the skin in order to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Vaporizing (Vaping):
    The act of applying controlled heating to a substance in order to inhale its released vapors, as opposed to combusting the substance with higher heat and inhaling its smoke. For vaporizing cannabis, a portable vaporizer pen (vape pen) or a more elaborate desktop vaporizer unit might be used.
  • Withdrawal Management:
    The process of withdrawing a person from a specific psychoactive substance in a safe and effective manner, typically combined with psychosocial treatment, with or without the assistance of medication. Medication-assisted opioid withdrawal management typically involves gradual tapering of buprenorphine or methadone doses over an established time period. Optimum durations of taper periods are yet to be determined or agreed upon.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms:
    The symptoms experienced when a drug-dependent individual abstains from using the drug. Severity and duration of symptoms depends on many factors, including drug potency, drug dose, duration of dependence, genetics, age, and health. For potent CNS drugs, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates, symptoms may include flu-like symptoms, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, muscle aches, fever, chills, perspiration, nausea, and diarrhea.