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Glossary of Terms

The language of substance use is evolving as much as the substances themselves. Here’s some terminology to help understand the discussion:

Alcohol: A central-nervous-system depressant derived from fermenting sugars. At high dosages, effects include mood swings, impaired judgment and inability to control motor functions. Alcohol can impair an athlete’s performance through dehydration, depleting vital nutrients and interfering with restful sleep and recovery.

Amphetamines: Central-nervous-system stimulant synthetic compounds. [See stimulants.]

Anabolic Steroids: Synthetic derivatives of testosterone that promote muscle growth. Examples are andro or norandro products, bodenone, DHEA, dianabol, epi-trenbolone, methasterone, stanozolol. Anabolic steroid use changes the body’s hormonal balance, exaggerating male sex characteristics, and can contribute to increased acne, mood swings, secondary sex characteristic changes and violent behavior. Long-term heavy use has been implicated in organ damage.

Cocaine: A stimulant that can contribute to agitation, elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure. Toxic levels can result in respiratory failure and heart attack.

Dietary Supplement: Congress defined the term “dietary supplement” in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 as “a product taken by mouth that contains a ‘dietary ingredient’ intended to supplement the diet.’ The “dietary ingredients” in these products may include: vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and such substances as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars and metabolites. Dietary supplements can also be extracts or concentrates and may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, soft gels, gel caps, liquids or powders. They can also be in other forms, such as a bar, but if they are, information on their label must not represent the product as a conventional food or a sole item of a meal or diet. Whatever their form may be, the DSHEA places dietary supplements in a special category under the general umbrella of “foods,” not drugs, and requires that every supplement be labeled a dietary supplement.

Marijuana: Any product containing THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive agent in marijuana. Marijuana may be ingested in various forms, including smoked, or via “edibles,” or vaporized through THC oil or wax. Marijuana use is linked to anxiety and panic reactions, respiratory damage, short-term memory impairment and a decreased focus on goals and personal achievement.

Narcotics: Pain relievers derived from opium and its synthetic substitutes. Examples are codeine, morphine, oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin. Narcotics block pain and cause sleepiness, and at higher doses affect breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.

Stimulants: Drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. The drugs include a variety of chemicals, ranging from caffeine to other drugs including amphetamines, benzedrine, cocaine, dexadrine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, methylphenidate. Stimulant abuse can cause anxiety, panic, paranoia and delusions.

Synthetic cannabis: Inaccurately called “synthetic marijuana” – plant-based products that have been treated with artificial psychoactive compounds. Examples are K2, Spice.

Tobacco (cigarettes and spit tobacco): Products derived from tobacco plants, and containing the stimulant nicotine, delivered through inhaled smoke or absorbed through mucous membranes. Smoking damages lung tissue and reduces lung capacity. Spit tobacco use contributes to inflammation of soft tissue in the mouth and raises the risk of oral cancer.