Glossary of Terms

Aversion formulations: Alterations to a prescription drug’s formula to reduce its abuse potential. These alterations can include changes to a drug’s delivery method, chemical consistency, or physical properties.

“Closed system”: Refers to the DEA’s process for ensuring that all individuals and organizations who handle controlled substances, including manufacturers, distributers, prescribers, and pharmacies, are registered with the DEA. Individuals and organizations must meet certain requirements to obtain and maintain this registration, including tracking all controlled substances they handle.

Controlled prescription drugs: Prescription drugs that contain at least one DEA Schedule controlled substance. Prescribers and pharmacies must meet certain requirements (including licensing) to prescribe and dispense these prescription drugs.

Declaratory judgments: A court decision in a civil dispute that is legally binding and precludes any arbitration, negotiation, or settlement between the parties in dispute. It can be a standalone order or attached to an injunction or awarding of damages.

Formulary: The list of prescription drugs covered by a health insurance plan. It can include criteria that determine when certain drugs are covered.

Good Samaritan laws: Laws that provide legal protections to individuals attempting to assist an individual in danger. These laws can contain provisions for assisting individuals overdosing from prescription drugs, including administering naloxone or contacting emergency personnel.

Indicated prevention programs: Prevention programs intended to identify and serve individuals at risk for a substance use disorder (e.g., a student with recent increased delinquency).

Land-grant university: Universities that receive federal benefits under the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. To qualify, universities must meet certain requirements, including a mission to focus on agriculture, science, engineering, and certain other technical studies.

Long-acting opioid analgesic: Opioid-based pain reliever prescription drugs intended to manage chronic pain. These drugs have high dosages of opioids and patients are directed to take them at regular intervals, not “as needed.” Also known as extended release opioid analgesics. Contrast to short-acting or immediate release opioid analgesics.

Morphine milligram equivalents: Measurement system used to calculate the strength of opioid medications.

Narcotic analgesics: Pain relievers that contain opioids. They are used to treat moderate to severe pain and vary in potency and risk of causing dependency or addiction.

Non-narcotic analgesics: Pain relievers that do not contain opioids. They are primarily intended to treat mild pain and are usually available over-the-counter at lower doses (e.g., acetaminophen).

Pay-for-performance: Health care payment model that links provider payments to patient outcomes. Alternative to fee-for-service models, where provider payments are linked only to the quantity of services provided.

Pharmacy hopping: Patients attempting to fill the same prescription at multiple pharmacies to obtain more medication than the prescribed dosage.

Physicochemical barriers: A type of aversion formulation to reduce a prescription drug’s abuse potential. These barriers can be designed to make it more difficult to dissolve, crush, chew, or otherwise modify the prescription drug.

Polypharmacy: The concurrent use of four or more medications to treat various health conditions.

Pseudoephedrine: A nasal decongestant found in many over-the-counter and prescription medications. It is also a key precursor chemical in several of the most common methods used to produce methamphetamine.

Schedule I or II substances: Schedule I controlled substances are those defined as having no accepted medical uses and a high risk for abuse or dependency, and, as such, there are no Schedule I prescription drugs. Legal manufacture of Schedule I controlled substances is permitted for certain research purposes. Schedule II controlled substances are those defined as having accepted medical uses and a high risk for abuse or dependency. Due to their high risks, the DEA has placed additional requirements on the storage, transportation, and tracking of Schedule I and II controlled substances.

Schedules of Prescription Drugs: Prescription drugs that contain controlled substances are classified along the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Controlled Substances Act Scheduling system according to their acceptable medical uses and risk for abuse or dependency. The Schedule runs from I (highest classification) to V (lowest classification).[1]

Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT): Strategy to deliver services to individuals at risk for or with substance use disorders, focusing on a short screening, immediate services, and referral to more comprehensive services.

Selective prevention programs: Prevention programs intended to reach vulnerable groups within a population considered at risk for a substance use disorder (e.g., children of parents with a substance use disorder).

Tramadol: A long-acting opioid analgesic for treating moderate to severe pain. Contrast to oxycodone.

Uncontrolled prescription drugs: Prescription drugs that do not contain any DEA Schedule controlled substances. Prescribers and pharmacies must meet fewer requirements to prescribe or dispense these prescription drugs. Examples include medications to treat high blood pressure or bacterial infections.

Universal precautions: Steps that prescribers can take to reduce the likelihood of prescription opioid misuse among patients, such as ensuring patient informed consent about opioid use or developing a treatment agreement.[2]

Universal prevention programs: Prevention programs intended to reach an entire population (e.g., all students in a school, all residents in a community, etc.), without regard to individual risk factors.

[1] U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Drug scheduling. Retrieved from

[2] Benedict, D. G. (2008). Walking the tightrope: Chronic pain and substance abuse. Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 4 (8), 604 – 609.